Children's Health

Be the Best Parent Possible

Parent Educator Offers 12 Tips for Parents During Parenting Awareness Month

Good parenting skills can be learned “on the job,” through education and by following 12 guidelines, according to parent educator Pat Crum with the Center for Child Protection at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital.

“Being a parent is one of the most challenging jobs in the world,” said Crum. “Parents are pulled in many different directions and under various pressures. As a society, we fail to recognize how hard parenting is and don’t acknowledge what it takes to be a good parent. Parenting Awareness Month is the perfect opportunity to pause and take a moment to assess our parenting preparedness and skills.”

Crum and her colleagues with the Center for Child Protection (CCP) share the following advice with parents.

  1. Take care of yourself.’ It is easier to meet your child’s needs if you take care of your own. Over-commitment and fatigue are two of the greatest distractions from positive parenting. Take time to relax and enjoy the company of your children.
  2. Speak calmly and firmly to your children when they misbehave.’ Tell them what they have done and what would have been a better choice.’ Respond to disruptive behavior immediately, consistently and decisively.
  3. Realize it is okay for your child to say “no”. Parents feel challenged when children say “no” or question authority.’ Disagreeing respectfully is a skill that must be learned and one parents can teach.’ Keep in mind that you want them to have the skill to say “no” to peer pressure and inappropriate situations.
  4. Allow your child to practice being powerful in useful and appropriate ways.’ Show them a positive way to make a contribution.’ Let them know their actions count. Most parents want to raise a child who will be a self-reliant adult, who can make good decisions and who has the confidence to be whatever he or she chooses.’
  5. Give your children a voice in family rule making and the consequences for breaking rules.’ Fewer rules are better and should be clearly understood before a problem arises.’
  6. Focus your attention on what children are doing right, and you will see more of that.’ What you pay attention to is what you get more of. Children feel safest when the limits are firm and consistently enforced. Otherwise they may constantly push and test the limits. Children of all ages have a strong need for attention and will repeat behaviors that get a strong reaction, whether positive or negative.
  7. Be patient. Being rushed is not compatible with a child’s natural rhythm.’ The dawdling, which is sometimes seen by parents as a challenge to their authority, is normal for children. Time runs much slower for kids than the hectic pace of working adults.
  8. To manage the behavior of young children, use distraction and lots of supervision. Discipline calmly.’ Don’t assign consequences when you’re angry.
  9. Young children are developmentally programmed to explore.’ Tell them what they can do instead of punishing for what they can’t do.’ For optimum learning, create an environment that is safe for exploration.’ Give them plenty of interesting things to do.
  10. Put problems on your family meeting agenda and let kids brainstorm a solution.’ Kids are more likely to cooperate when they are involved in the solution.
  11. A sense of humor is a valuable tool in working with children.’ A silly or playful attitude will often ease a tense situation, end a power struggle and invite children’s cooperation. Laughing together is a great way to strengthen family bonds.’
  12. Respect others and children will respect you. We model respect through our daily interactions with others.’ Our children learn respect from what they observe and receive from us.

The CCP is a multidisciplinary hospital-based program providing services for physically and sexually abused and neglected children on both an inpatient and outpatient basis. The CCP has served more than 1,000 patients annually since it was founded in 1993.

The team provides comprehensive medical evaluations facilitating prevention, identification, diagnosis and treatment of child abuse or neglect in West Michigan through education, clinical practice and research. The team includes 40 members from a variety of disciplines including pediatricians, nurses, emergency medicine physicians, medical social workers, radiologists, critical care physicians and clergy.

Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital and Spectrum Health offers a variety of services to enhance the parenting experience. For complete listing of services and classes, visit or call (616) 391-5000.

Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital is West Michigan’s largest children’s hospital, serving children and families throughout a 37-county region. A teaching hospital, it includes more than 150 pediatric specialty physicians uniquely skilled in providing medical and surgical care to children in more than 40 pediatric specialties. The hospital cares for more than 7,600 inpatients and 190,000 outpatients annually. Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital is committed to caring for children and families with compassion, excellence and innovation.’ Visit for more information.