How To Be An Effective Parent: Parenting Styles And Tips

Medically reviewed by Nikki Ciletti, M.Ed, LPC
Updated May 6, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Before your child is in your care, be it through birth, adoption, or another method, you may wonder whether you’re going to be an effective parent. Raising a tiny human can be intimidating, and while no parent will be perfect, you can take steps to equip yourself with tools that can help you become a positive force in your child’s life. When preparing for parenthood, it may be helpful to have insights about different parenting styles psychology, research-backed parenting advice, tips, and other resources for parenting for further support such as online therapy. Read on to learn more.

Being an effective parent can be challenging

Parenting styles

As you research good or gentle parenting practices to determine what makes a good parent, you may come across information about certain parenting styles that many adults use, knowingly or otherwise, when raising their children. Before we get into the research-backed tips, understanding these different parenting styles and knowing the most effective parenting style can be helpful.

While all of these parenting styles are present in our society, some are seen as more beneficial to children than others. There are four widely recognized styles:

Authoritarian parenting

For parents who use the authoritarian style, they generally value obedience over all else and rarely give their child any say in how problems are dealt with. These types of parents will typically set rules that children must follow without question. If a child breaks a rule, they frequently punish rather than using a different form of discipline. This style of parenting can have negative consequences.

Permissive parenting

Permissive parenting is generally defined by a lack of firm rules or guidance for kids. A parent may see the child as more of a friend, and their behavior will usually reflect that relationship. Parents utilizing the permissive style may be overall very tolerant and accommodating when it comes to what the child wants to do. With this style, the parents may be caring and available, but they may not help kids with developing positive habits or good behavior.

Uninvolved parenting

Uninvolved parenting is, in many ways, what it sounds like. This parenting style typically applies to a parent who may not provide necessary emotional support or encouragement, may not set rules or boundaries, and generally places very few demands on the child. Without proper parental guidance, the child is often left to figure things out on their own.

Authoritative parenting

Authoritative parenting is characterized by positive reinforcement, nurturing, respect for the child, and rationality. This type of parenting is a more moderate approach, taking positive qualities from the other styles and combining them. Authoritative parenting emphasizes good communication between children and parents as well as empathy toward the child’s emotions. It’s a balanced approach where you show interest in your kids’ lives, give them autonomy, and provide them with guidance. Of the four styles, this one is the most frequently recommended by experts. Research shows that children raised this way are more likely to become independent, academically successful, and well-behaved.

Research-backed parenting tips

Given the many different things that can play into ideas about parenting, it may be tough to identify what matters most.

Different people have different opinions, and your own familial background, culture, and other factors can play a role, too. Most strategies aren’t going to provide an all-encompassing solution; but, by considering some of the below ideas, you can add proven, effective tactics to your parenting approach.

Here are some research-backed parenting tips to consider:

Spend more time reinforcing good behavior and effort

Some parents may think that the only thing keeping their children from behaving poorly is the fear of punishment. Discipline is indeed important, and you may need rules (and fair consequences for breaking them), but some research shows that children respond better to praise than they do to discipline. If you praise more than you punish, it may allow your child to learn what is expected of them and choose constructive behavior instead. 

It is also thought that praising effort rather than ability may be more beneficial. For example, you might praise a child for putting time into their homework instead of telling them how smart they are for completing it.


Lead by example

Many children may frequently observe their parents, and as they grow up, they may start to emulate their parents’ behaviors, relationships, and conversational styles. When a parent’s behaviors are healthy, this can be a good thing. However, when the behaviors are unhealthy, these things may rub off on the child in negative ways. The child may incorporate these actions or behaviors into their life, and it may affect how they feel about themselves, their confidence, and more.

One such example is negative parental self-talk and body image. Researchers note that hearing families speak negatively about their own bodies and appearances was “inversely related to mindful eating and positive body image.” Children with parents who speak negatively about their own bodies and appearances may be more likely to have a negative body image themselves and may internalize harmful messages that can impact their health. To help cultivate a positive body image, consider highlighting that people come in all shapes and sizes when the topic comes up—and try to focus on what the body can do rather than how it looks.

Another example is apologizing when you need to. No parent is perfect, and the time will likely come when you need to say, “I’m sorry,” to or in front of your child. Not only may this give them closure, but it may teach them to apologize to others when needed, too.

Provide a stable environment for your child

A stable environment can help your child to grow and develop in healthy ways. Children may feel unsafe when things aren’t predictable, and they may struggle if there is no routine. An environment that is safe and allows them to be creative, learn, grow, and be loved unconditionally can help them thrive. 

Being an effective parent can be challenging

It can be easy to get caught up in the small stuff; but at the end of the day, peaceful parenting is providing a stable home environment, ensuring they are safe, showing them affection, creating stable routines, and giving them room to be themselves can make a huge impact in their lives.

Practice self-care

Raising a child involves ensuring they are properly cared for, but it is important to look after your own mental and physical well-being too. In fact, the American Psychological Association notes the importance of parents taking care of themselves, both for the parent and the child.

This means practicing self-care regularly and reaching out for additional support so that you can take a break to recharge when needed. Some things, like affording a babysitter, aren’t viable for everyone, but there are many ways to practice self-care in even small, simple steps. For instance, maybe sometimes, self-care means creating a few minutes of silent reading time for both you and your child/children, where you choose to read something that you enjoy while your child does the same.

Financial matters, stress, and mental or physical health concerns can all have an impact on your quality of life. Support from the people around you can do wonders. Know that your needs matter and don’t hesitate to reach out for help when you need it.

Whether you want to speak about your own mental health, talk about parenting concerns, or address something else that’s affecting you and your life, the support of a professional therapist can help.

Online therapy can allow you to be in a safe space that’s solely for you and your mental health at a time that is convenient for you. It can be a way to care for yourself, which can be advantageous not just for you but for your family, too. Being a parent can be busy; online therapy through BetterHelp allows you to get care according to your schedule. 

Research shows that online therapy can bring improvements for parents in mood, coping skills, and more. For instance, one study showed that online-delivered therapy had “positive effects” on parents’ psychological flexibility, emotional management mood, and coping skills. 

Anne Douglas, LMFT
Anne is amazing. She has helped me so much over the time we've spent together and given me guidance that has helped get me on the right path with my marriage and being a better parent. Thank you!”


Being a parent can be challenging, and while being a “perfect” parent is not possible, there are many types of parenting styles and research-backed tips you can consider trying to become a more effective parent. As you navigate the wonders and challenges of parenthood, getting online parent counseling or therapy can provide you with quality support. You do not have to go through the parenting process alone.
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