Effective Parenting Quiz

Parents are masters of multitasking. Doing laundry and making dinner at the same time? No problem. Catching up on reading while working out on the treadmill? A cinch. Oddly enough, I’ve also come to realize that some of my best parenting happens when it’s blended into everyday moments of life. I call it “nooks and cranny parenting” — when parenting comes naturally, like blinking your eyes.

And just like we teach our kids, for anything to become natural, we have to practice. That’s why I’ve developed this very unscientific way to self-evaluate myself every few weeks. I think of it as my personal report card in my journey to becoming an effective parent. Right now I score an 83. Not bad, but I always have room to improve!

So take the quiz, or use it as motivation to create your own list. How does the scoring work? It’s a 1 to 10 scale for each of the 10 following categories. A “10” means you are a master and a “5” is average.

Show the Love
Showing love is not the same as giving your child tangible objects. It’s reminding them, telling them and reinforcing every day that they are a person of value in your life. Even when you are going through a rough spot, remind your children that your love is unconditional, and that with you, they are always safe, physically and emotionally. We all have a different “love language,” and we all show our love in different ways — hugs, cuddling, foot rubs — and those expressions change as children grow older.

Your score: __________

Listen & Lecture
As a new dad, I thought it was my job to inquire a lot: “How was your day?” “With whom did you sit?” But I realized that those questions evolved into regular sessions of “20 Questions.” There’s a fine line between showing interest and talking too much. And there’s a very distinct line between showing interest and lecturing too much. I use the rule, especially with teens, of trying to listen about 80 percent of the time, rather than talking. I absorb and offer reaffirming nods that show I’m listening, and I care. Kids need that. They don’t need you to respond to everything. They just want to know that you’re listening. And for the moments you need to lecture, keep it brief!

Your score: __________

Practice Inside-Out Praising
Kids need praise, just like you and I. They need regular reminders of their good qualities, and they also need affirmation that they are not just an extension of you. Don’t compare a child to their siblings or other children—it can make him feel inferior. Celebrate your child’s uniqueness. Help him see that his differences are what make him interesting. Praise his character (things like grit, commitment, curiosity, tenacity), and when you want to praise external qualities, try to integrate the word “healthy.” (“You look so beautiful and healthy!”)

Your score: __________

Instill Emotional Intelligence
Children need to understand ranges of emotions, no matter their age. One of the things I’ve learned is that many children are only familiar with happy or sad feelings. Their understanding of the broader spectrum of feelings (fear, embarrassment, anxiety, nervousness, etc.) is limited. And because of that, they are not equipped to manage themselves and often turn to inappropriate or unhealthy behavior when soothing is needed (eating, drinking, violence). As parents, we need to model appropriate behavior for our children. We also need to explain our own feelings and, when appropriate, help our children understand their feelings. The more kids are educated about their emotions, the healthier they will be.

Your score: __________

Be Consistent
From the moment we are born, we thrive on consistency. And we perform and behave better when we know what to expect. As a parent, consistency is a secret weapon that establishes a smooth-running family. It also takes work, but the payoff is great. Create easy-to-understand rules and stick by them. Define clear consequences for the times when rules are broken. As children get older, they will naturally try to push back against a parent’s authority (and consistency). Stay calm. Stay clear. Be concise. And be consistent.

Your score: __________

Nurture Curiosity
Curiosity encompasses far more than simply encouraging your children to look at a cobweb. It includes encouraging them to embrace the world and those around them. Model how to be open to other people’s opinions, and let them make age-appropriate decisions for themselves — even if there is a risk that the result may not be what they desire. Your curious children will not only do better in school, they will have healthier relationships, experiences and a richer life journey.

Your score: __________

Let Failure Happen
Dealing with failure in life is a valuable lesson. And every child deserves the opportunity to fail more than once. Think of a master chess player — the way he becomes an expert is by failing over and over, but it’s through those failures that strategies, composure and stress management are learned. It’s critical that we let our children make choices and experience the realities when things don’t go the way they desire. We shouldn’t always run to their rescue because they will never learn to value success if we do.

Your score: __________

Teach Independence
The endgame of the parenting journey is to raise kids to be independent adults. The tough part, if you’re like me, is that it’s difficult to let go. It’s hard to not do things for your kids (it feels good!), but the harsh reality is that we are doing children a disservice if we shield them from being responsible and taking care of themselves. This includes requiring them to complete basic tasks like making lunches and cleaning their rooms, as well as being responsible for their actions and behavior. It’s too easy to help, isn’t it? This is the area where I need the most improvement!

Your score: __________

Instill Gratitude
Are you raising kids who are grateful? And I’m talking about more than instilling good manners, although that is important, too. I’m talking about raising children to have a grounded sense of appreciation for all the gifts, talents and goodness in their lives. Are they above the distractions of a false sense of entitlement? Do they understand the need to work for things they want? Are they willing and wanting to help others find success as well? Imparting a sense of gratitude in children begins by living a life that models gratitude. This is a golden gift to provide to children!

Your score: __________

Be Available
Being available to your kids, physically and emotionally, is critical. And don’t get confused or discouraged as they get older and try to push you away. They are doing this to establish independence. As a parent, however, you need to constantly give signals to maturing children that you are always there for them. In many ways, it’s the all-encompassing gift — it shows them that they are valued, it validates their emotions, and among many other things, it gives them comfort that they have someone who will always listen.

Your score: __________

How did you do? Think about what you would like to do to become a more effective parent. It’s a challenging journey that we’re all in together, so just print out this quiz to keep the core principles in mind, and you’ll do just fine!

More Articles from Land O'Moms

From Our Family to Yours