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11 Effective Parenting Tips You Probably Didn’t Know

Parents know the struggles of finding effective parenting tips that actually work! 

We parents are stretched thin. Our patience and energy get dispersed over a wide array of tasks.

Home, work, school, after-school activities, and PTA are just a few of the things all competing for our time and energy. Effective parenting tips are crucial not only for our sanity but also just to get all our tasks done.

So in this post, we’re walking through the best parenting styles, good parenting skills & the biggest challenges parents face. Most importantly, we’re going to review some of the most effective parenting tips to bring balance and sanity back into your life and house.

The endless list of priorities parents face

Many of our tasks all seem like they are the #1 priority! It gets exhausting even thinking about all the things on our weekly to-do lists.

  • Spend time with my kids
  • Spend time with my spouse
  • Stay focused at work so I can bring home the big bucks
  • Volunteer at my kid’s school
  • Take time for myself so I don’t burn out
  • Find the time to stay connected with my friends and family
  • Keep up with the housework
  • Make sure my kids do their homework
  • Chauffeuring my kids to all their various after-school activities and weekend birthday parties

The list can go on and on!

We strive to be efficient and productive and yet it always seems like something important ends up on the back burner.

All too often we can find ourselves feeling like a failure as a parent and/or spouse when we inevitably fall short on this list.  We don’t even make time to find good effective parenting tips.

The terrible thoughts we think about that one Mom (or Dad) who always seems to have everything together

We all know that one mom or dad who seems to be a superhero.

They always (seem like) they have their stuff together!  They never look stressed or worn out. Clearly, they know some secret good parenting skills, right?

We see them at every PTA event & every birthday party.  When they throw a party for their kid everything at the party looks Pinterest-perfect and of course, they made everything by hand.

Let’s be honest.  We love and hate these people at the same time!

What effective parenting tips do they know that we don’t?


effective parenting tips Middle Class Dad black and white photo of a Mom and baby

In truth, they are likely struggling too, but they aren’t showing it the way we feel like we are.

But they also may well be masters of time management.  They may know some effective parenting tips that we don’t. But in short; they are not the perfect parent we think they are.

But we can learn from them. And, more importantly, there’s a difference between learning from others and comparing ourselves to others.

Comparing our daily productivity struggles with super-mom over there doesn’t help us.

In fact, it can do quite the opposite; it can make us want to give up.  It can make us feel bad about ourselves and drown our failure in a pint of ice cream!

A better strategy is to find out what tools they use to plan their day.  Once we get those effective parenting tips that are their secret weapon, you’ll be that parent that everyone loves to hate!  Or is it hates to love?

What is the most effective style of parenting?

In truth there isn’t a one size fits all approach that is best for everyone.

There are many different kinds of people.  Thus there are many different kinds of parents and children. I can tell you that most experts regard the Authoritarian Parenting style as the worst and most damaging to children.

You will have to do some trial and error to see what works for your family. Some of my effective parenting tips may not work for you.

That’s OK. Trial and error mean you’re trying.

When we put forth the effort, even if the results aren’t quite what we wanted or expected we still can learn. And as we learn, we grow.

There are many different parenting styles though.  But there are some styles that are among the worst. I highly recommend you take a moment and check out one of my most popular posts on that subject called 3 Worst Parenting Styles.

The crucial qualities that make a good parent

The best parents aren’t perfect.

But effective parenting tips definitely include a good balance of putting the needs of their kids high on the list.

That doesn’t mean the children’s needs always come first. But the parent’s needs can’t always be at the top either. Balance is the key. We have to learn to balance between being a parent, a spouse and our self.

You won’t always get it right. That’s OK!  As long as you are committed to doing the best job you can at the moment, you are a great parent!

If you want to know more about good parenting skills, take a moment to review my post about Qualities of a Good Father.  Trust me; these effective parenting tips apply to Moms just as much as Dads!

What are good parenting skills?

There are a lot of qualities and skills that make up a great parent.

Good parenting tips & skills might include some or all of the following:

  • Being loving – Kids need to know their world is safe and secure. You can discipline as needed, but never let them question your love for them
  • Controlling Stress – Learning how to keep our own stress in check is crucial for effective parenting skills. Whether you meditate, practice yoga or hit the gym, find a way that works for you to reduce stress
  • Working on your Relationship – You won’t be a great parent if you treat your spouse poorly. It just won’t happen. Thus the best parents also work on their relationships skills and communication skills. Like parenting, they aren’t perfect, but awareness and effort are crucial
  • Balancing freedom and safety – We have to let our kids be kids. They will get dirty and they will get hurt. You won’t always be there to protect them, so helicoptering over them now might keep them safe but is hampering them down the road.
  • Educating your kids – Our kids need a solid education to succeed in life and while a great school or teacher are extremely important, they will learn the most from you. Start early and teach often.
  • Teaching them life skills – Our kids are always watching us. How we treat the cashier at the grocery store or our spouse. Switch tags on an expensive piece of clothing and guess what your child will grow up thinking is OK? Aside from knowledge, it’s vitally important that our kids know how to navigate this complicated world.  They aren’t likely to learn this in school, so it starts and ends at home.
  • Instilling good behavior – We’ve all seen those kids who behave rudely, selfishly or who yell and make a scene to get what they want. And we’ve all seen those parents who allow it to happen without consequence and who give in to the tantrums which only reinforces the behavior. Thus teaching our kids how to behave is important. Even more important is teaching them that there are consequences for their actions. The world isn’t kind to spoiled, entitled people, so we aren’t doing any favors by taking it easy on them. This is one of the most crucial effective parenting tips.

If you see concerns about child behavior, I have a post on that too that would be well worth a few minutes of your time. Just go to 7 Worst Child Behavioral Problems.

How do children learn good manners?

effective parenting tips Middle Class Dad a little girl sharing with a little boy

Effective parenting tips have to include teaching our kids how to be good, well-mannered individuals. Some days good manners seem like a lost art to me. But it’s crucial that we bring it back and keep it strong.

Manners are important; for school, for getting and keeping jobs and succeeding in life.

Teaching kids good manners though are surprisingly simple.

They learn by watching us.  If they see you and your spouse dropping f-bombs when they are 5 guess what type of language they will be more apt to use in school at a young age?

If they see us berate a waiter or see us flipping off another driver in traffic guess how they will start to treat people?

So it’s crucial that we remember we are the adults. Treat others with kindness and forgiveness. If you must express anger or frustrations, don’t do it in front of the kids.

Teach them how to sit at a dinner table (and please, please, please without a screen in their hand). Teach them to put their dirty laundry in the hamper and not on the floor.

Good parenting skills have to include teaching our kids how to be good, well-mannered people. Good manners will set them up for success in life and it starts with us.

So what are my . . .

11 Effective Parenting Tips You Need In Your Life?

Admittedly some of these are more parent sanity tips than effective parenting tips.  But trust me; they all lead to the same place!

1. T.R.A.F.

I was taught this acronym more than 20 years ago by a great leader named Lynn I had the pleasure of working for briefly in my former career at Whole Foods Market.

It means touch paper once.

Technically it refers to every time you touch a piece of paper do one of 4 things; Trash it, Refer it (to someone else), Act on it, File it.  Of course, I learned this before the tech-heavy world we live in today. So whether you’re talking emails or texts, you can still apply this principle.

Of course, you can also recycle that paper instead of trashing it!

In a nutshell, think about how much time you waste looking at a school notice from your kid’s backpack or a letter from the HOA or an email about a bill that is due.  Many of us, myself included, look at those things and think “I’ll get to that later”.  Then we do the same thing the next day too and so on.

What if every time you picked up a piece of paper or read an email you committed yourself to do one of those 4 things with it right then?  Don’t have time to take action?  Then don’t open that mail then and wait until you have time to fully act on it.

2. Don’t Put Yourself Last on the Priority List!

It’s tempting, I know.  And often we do end up putting our own needs last.

But you know what happens when that’s all we do?  We burn out.  We snap at our kids.  We’re on our last nerve and everybody; our kids, our spouse & our co-workers, pay for it!

Want to be that super-hero parent?

Then you have to take time for yourself every now and then!  You have to take time to recharge your batteries or you’ll be useless to those who truly need you.  I’m not trying to be sexist and I know everyone is different, but in my personal experience, moms have a harder time with this than dads.

3. Learn to Say NO and be OK With That!

This ties in with #2 in that you have to learn to say no sometimes and not feel guilty about it.

Think about this great quote from John Lee Dumas of Entrepreneur on Fire: “When you say yes to something, you are saying no to everything else!“

In other words, you have the same 24 hours in a day as everyone else; a finite amount of time.  Saying yes to one thing automatically means that you have less time for other things.

Thus, we have to learn to say no to things that don’t have a place in our priority list for the day.

That doesn’t mean we can’t make room later in the week or month, but it’s OK to say no!  As long as you’re communicating that NO in a timely manner and in a clear way, it’s nothing to feel guilty about!

  • Got 3 birthday party invites for this coming weekend from your kid’s classrooms? Time to say no to at least 1 of them!
  • Mother-in-law wants you to bring the kids to visit every other week when it’s an hour and a half round trip drive? It’s OK to go less frequently (sorry Mom!)
  • Expected to clock out for lunch at work but you always end up working through your lunch? Yup, you guessed it. Totally OK (and legal) to say no to that too!

4. Have Some System of Organization

I don’t care if it’s post-it notes on a wall or a dry erase board.  Maybe it’s an old-school paper daily planner or an app.

Have some type of system that helps you keep track of the daily priorities and to-do lists.  Personally, I use GQueues which is both an app and a desktop website.

I love this program/app as it’s basically an online to do list.

The desktop version is free but the phone app is something like $5.00/year; cheap!  It also interfaces with my Google calendar, can send me reminders. I can also share specific queues with others. Heck, I can even have a totally shared database where multiple users can have agenda items. Then you just check them off when done and they get archived; a great way to keep track of where your team is at on projects!

I’ve looked at about 6 different online organizers and for me the only one I would consider is GQueues.  But whatever method you like; SELECT ONE and use it.

I also have a post that does an in-depth review and tutorial on GQueues, so check that out if you’re interested.

The person who goes through their day just shooting from the hip and hoping for the best is never going to be that one parent you scowl at during PTA meetings.  They will be the one always forgetting something who appears hopelessly lost and behind.

5. Don’t Coddle Your Kids Into Oblivion

Depending on how old your kids are, they may be fully capable of making their own breakfast.

You don’t have to do EVERYTHING for them.

Sure I get the idea that it’s nice to be needed and that one day they won’t need you.  That day will be a sad day for sure.

But if you attend to their every want and need, three things happen.  First, you’re raising a very spoiled kid who will naturally expect the world to give them everything they want.  Second, you’re setting them up for failure as the world won’t give them everything and they won’t know how to fend for themselves.  Third, you’re ensuring that you never get a break!

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6. Embrace Monotasking!

Multi-tasking is a myth.  It doesn’t really exist.

Show me a person who says they can do 2 things (or more) at once and I’ll show you someone who’s not doing either of them particularly well or efficiently.  I know; I’ve been one of those people!

I’ve addressed this topic previously on a well-regarded post about the key differences between successful people vs unsuccessful people.

Being present, mindful and embracing monotasking is a big part of honing your effective parenting tips and being successful, so I encourage you to check out that other post if you haven’t before.

Essentially though, monotasking is just focusing on one thing at a time.

Somewhere in the past few decades, it became in vogue to think that if we focused on multiple things at one time that it somehow made us do those things faster.  In truth, as Stanford University found in a recent study when you multi-task, you will inherently accomplish less than those who focus on one thing at a time.

7. Ignore Your Friends

OK, I’m being a little dramatic there. But when you become a parent, that will naturally affect how often you hang out with friends.

It also affects who you hang out with (sorry, my single & childless friends) and what you do (sorry after-hours club).  If it doesn’t affect those things then perhaps you need to refocus on parenting.

But in truth, you just don’t have as much free time, energy or money as you did when you were at least childless to say nothing of being single.

My friend Richard Bagdonas (who has been both the ignored and the ignoree) wrote an excellent piece on this subject about why he Ignored My Friends Since Becoming A Dad.

Essentially he’s explaining how and why becoming a dad (he has 2 young boys) has prevented him from being the man about town he once was.

I get it.  Believe me, I know exactly what he means.

If you’re new to being a parent, just get used to the idea.  I used to play in bands and I’ve toured the US.  Now I’m lucky if I see the inside of a club or concert hall twice a year.  And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

8. Divide and Conquer

You can’t do it all.  If you’re a single parent then I’m sorry but I guess you have to try.

For those of you married or in a relationship with the other parent, it’s crucial that you know who’s doing what.  In our busy world where we go a mile a minute all day, it simply doesn’t work to hope everything gets done.

Meet with your spouse and talk about what needs to get done.  Get a dry erase board and map out who’s doing what.

The best effective parenting tips in the world won’t help you if you and your significant other aren’t on the same page. If you aren’t, then you’re just wasting time expecting the other to do what you think they should be doing.

If you both work 40+ hours a week then you both need to be doing an equal share around the house.

The Leave it to Beaver days are gone. So guys (yeah, I’m talking to you) if your wife works as much as you do, you need to be doing just as much around the house as she does.

In my house, my wife worked 40+ hours a week (until the recent birth of our 3rd daughter). But she does online and evening college classes trying to get her degree. So I do a lot of the housework & laundry; at least during the week.

9. Hire Help When & Where It Makes Sense

You can’t do it all and if you have it in your budget, hire someone where it makes sense.

What takes the most time away from the more important things?  Mowing the lawn?  Cleaning the house?  Teaching the kids a skill?

Whatever it is, just because you can do it doesn’t mean that’s the best use of your time. Sometimes the most effective parenting tips include knowing what NOT to spend your time on.

In my house we decided after many years of being indignant about it, to hire someone to clean. She only comes 2 times a month, but for us, that’s heaven. We’ve put that on hold since the birth of our 3rd daughter, but it was great to have it while we did.

Coming that infrequently doesn’t break the bank. But I work 45+ hours a week, often 6 days a week and have a 50+ mile commute per day.  My wife worked 40+ hours a week and as I said is studying or taking tests at night during the week. So with 2 (now 3) kids, we are stretched thin!  Just that little bit of help keeps us sane!

10. Take Social Media Apps Off Your Phone

Do you know how much time the average American wastes, err . . . I mean spends on social media?

According to Digital Trends, the average American spends a 3rd of their day on social media.  But staggeringly, the US doesn’t even lead the world in that arena.

In parts of Asia, Mexico, and Africa, people actually check their phones an average of 40 times per day!

If you find yourself spending excessive amounts of time on your phone, then this tip right here can save you upwards of 8 hours in a 24-hour cycle.  I know it doesn’t seem like we spend that much time, but when you add up those individual minutes repeatedly, it can really add up!

If the thought of that scares you, you may want to check out my previous post about Cell Phone Addiction Symptoms.  Just sayin’!

11. Set Your Goals

Ideally, you and your spouse would set short term and long term goals together.

I’m a firm believer that without a roadmap you’ll almost never get where you want to go.  You can have personal goals just for the day, along with weekly and monthly goals for the family.

If a goal seems too lofty or unachievable, simply break it down into small, digestible, baby steps. I don’t care what your goal is.  If you break it down into a series of small steps, you can and will achieve it.

Plus the goal sets your intention; your mood.  It affects your decisions and where you put your energy.

Noted author Stephen Covey very famously said “Begin with the end in mind” in his amazing book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  Essentially that means always know the desired end result; aim for the target and you are less likely to miss.

What are your best effective parenting tips?

In this post, we looked at some very effective parenting tips for combatting the challenges parents face in today’s world.

But we also discussed everything from good manners, to bad parenting styles and also good parenting skills.

Often the best parenting advice comes from trial and error, so don’t feel bad about making mistakes; learn from them!

Which good parenting tips have or haven’t worked for you and why?

What is holding you back from implementing some of these effective parenting tips?

Feel free to comment here or email me with any questions as I am here to help!

If you like this post, please follow my Parenting board on Pinterest for more great tips from myself and top parenting experts!

effective parenting tips Jeff Campbell Middle Class Dad bio

Photo credits (that aren’t mine or which require attribution):
Saturday morning perfection: coffee and a good magazine by LaShawn Wiltz is licensed by CC2.0