Parenting Skills

See also: Top Tips for Parenthood

Parenting may well be the hardest job that you ever do.

Unfortunately, babies do not arrive with an instruction manual. The plethora of books and websites that are available can sometimes seem to be making the difficulties even worse, with conflicting advice and approaches that just may not feel right.

Our parenting skills pages take a ‘common-sense’ approach.

We try to explain what advice is available, and offer you some thoughts about how to decide what is right for you and for your child.

“Let’s Start at the Very Beginning…”

Parenting starts during pregnancy, when your body is effectively taken over from within. Most people know about morning sickness, but tiredness, anaemia, and mood changes can also be a feature of many pregnancies.

Our page on Pregnancy and Wellness explains what you can do to stay well in pregnancy.

As well as being pregnant, and managing your body, you may also want to make preparations for your baby’s arrival.

Our page on Preparing for Parenthood sets out some of the things you may like to consider.

You may also like to read our page on Eco-Friendly Parenting, especially if you are keen to minimise the environmental impact of your parenting choices.

Looking After Your Baby

It is possible that nothing could ever prepare anyone for that moment when they first hold their new baby.

Our pages on looking after a new baby help you to get to grips with the changes in your life, and how to look after your baby. A good place to start is our page on Looking After a New Baby.

For more specific issues, including sleeping, try our pages on Babies and Sleeping, and Sleep Problems in Babies.

While your focus may be on your baby, it is important not to neglect yourself.

Our page on Meeting Other Parents gives you some advice on how to build up your network, and get to know other parents in the area. Many people have commented that they are, and remain, particularly close to the friends they made while their children were small because they shared such a lot of very emotional times. It is well worth putting energy into these relationships.

Feeding Babies and Young Children

Feeding comes probably second only to sleeping as an issue for parents of babies and young children.

From the issues of ‘how to wean’ through to questions about whether your child will always be a fussy eater (no) and whether this is a phase (yes), you will find pages that we hope will provide some guidance.

There are a number of very specific stages covered in our feeding pages, including

Managing and Improving Behavioural Problems in Young Children

As your child reaches toddler stage, another issue—that of behaviour—will almost certainly arise.

The toddler years are not called the ‘Terrible Twos’ for nothing, and almost every child will throw at least one tantrum over the period.

The crucial issue is to develop an understanding of your child, and the reasons for their behaviour. As a general rule, children want parental attention and will do whatever is necessary to get it, including throwing tantrums. It is important to understand this and to avoid doing anything that may reinforce the unwanted behaviour in your child.

Our page on Understanding Your Young Child or Toddler will help here.
For further reading see our pages on Managing Toddler Behaviour, and Dealing with Tantrums.

Entertaining Children

Keeping children busy is half the battle in keeping them quiet and happy, and there is a huge amount of advice available on ways to manage this, including our page - Top Tips for the School Holidays.

For more inspiration try our pages on Cooking with Children, Gardening with Children, and Craft Activities with Children for some ideas for things to do at home.

If you’re thinking of going out and about, check out our pages on Outings with Children.

Of course, there is the issue of the ‘electronic babysitter’, and whether it is good for children to spend time watching television or using computers. This is a perennial issue for all parents, whether your child is barely 18 months or approaching 18 years old. Read more in our page on Screen Time for Children.

Children’s parties are an ongoing challenge for parents. Learn more about how to cope in our pages on Planning Children’s Parties and Managing Children’s Parties.

If you just want some general advice on parenting, and don’t know where to start, try our Top Ten Parenting Tips.

You may also find our pages on Parenting Boys, Parenting Girls, and Mindful Parenting are good starting points.

Learning and Developing

One of your most important functions as a parent is to help your child to learn, and support their learning.

This doesn’t just mean their formal learning, but also informal learning, social skills and interpersonal skills.

One of the most useful things that you can do, for example, is to read with children on a regular basis.

As your child grows and learns, you also need to choose settings for their learning.

Choosing childcare is a challenge with which most working parents will be familiar, and our page on Types of Childcare is designed to help.

Another important function of parents is to help their children to develop independence, a gradual and ongoing process that starts in babyhood and continues throughout childhood into adulthood. This process, done right, ensures that children grow up able to manage their own lives, both physical and emotional. For more, see our page on Encouraging Independence.

Choosing a school is also reportedly a subject for discussion wherever parents get together.

Parenting Teenagers

Many parents will admit to dreading the teenage years.

If you’re not struggling to Cope with Teenagers, or keep open communication channels, you’re worrying about how you can support them with exams and revision, or dealing with concerns about them.

For particular concerns, you may want to read our pages on Teenagers and Alcohol, Teenagers and Drugs, Teenage Parties and Sleepovers and Teenage Aggression.

To help you understand more about what’s going on in your teenager’s head and body, you may want to have a look at our page on Understanding Adolescence.


Finding that your child has been, or is being bullied, is always going to be hard.

Our pages on bullying are designed to help you through the process of understanding the situation (see An Introduction to Bullying), to Helping Someone to Cope with Bullying.

You may also find our page on Cyberbullying useful as this is a rising trend that seems likely to be an issue for some time to come.

If you are being bullied, the page on Coping with Bullying may help. As an adult, you may need to know about Workplace Bullying too.

It’s also important to confront bullying when you see it happening to other people. Our page on Confronting Bullying explains how you can do this.

Changing Challenges

As your children grow and develop, of course the challenges you face change. What doesn’t change is that you are still required to be patient, resourceful and resilient. Your self-esteem and self-confidence will probably be tested to the limit over the years.

It is important to remember at all times that you are the best parent for your children, because you are you.

Hold that thought and life may well feel, and be, easier.

Our Newest Section

Parenting Skills is the newest section of Skills You Need and we're adding more common sense parenting advice all the time.

We'd love to hear your views and ideas for areas you think we should cover. So get in touch and let us know what you'd like to see.