How to be a good parent

We’ve gathered tips from other parents to help you with your most challenging role yet. From ideas to entertain your little ones, to techniques for keeping your temper in check.

Becoming a parent means navigating challenges you’ve never experienced before. The baby who won’t stop crying. The toddler having a meltdown in the supermarket, in the car, at the table. Or all three.

As you collapse frazzled onto the sofa when they’re finally in bed the thoughts creep in. ‘Am I a good parent? Are we doing enough?’

We asked mums and dads of under-twos for their top tips on how to be a good parent, based on what it means to them.

Keep things sloooow

“Kids value time with you more than being thrown in the car every five minutes and carted around. Try and remember this despite the pressures to do otherwise. I can be so guilty of rushing everywhere and forgetting what really matters.” Joanna, mum to Elson, three years, and Sadie, 10 months

Chat, chat, chat

“Babies and toddlers are like sponges. I’ve always tried to talk to my daughter as much as I can. Not goos and gaas but proper conversations, even if they are one-sided. I think exposing them to a range of words must help with their vocab. It’s what I’ve heard anyway. And when they start to chat back? Well that tugs on the heartstrings like nothing else, and is one of the reasons we’re doing all this, right?” Gabbi, mum to Joanie, 17 months

Please yourself

“If you hate baby classes - don’t do them. I find that when we have a day doing things that I enjoy I feel more relaxed and happier. Which means he is happier. So it’s about finding a bit of balance if you can. Plus all the caffeine, obviously.” Magda, mum to Leon, eight months

(Try to) find the fun in chores

Making the everyday entertaining and magical keeps little ones happy, and you can get things done. Here are some easy ideas:

“I let her ‘sort’ the clean washing. Which means taking it all off the drying rack and throwing it around. But she’s happy.” Hazel, mum to Eva, 19 months

“We take teddies and toys to the supermarket. And our favourite thing is taking bubbles when we go out for a walk.” Shirine, mum to Lawrence, 20 months

“We make and create as many things as we can together, such as dens, cards, and cakes. And we paint too – it can be less hassle than you think. Remember, it’s not about the results. Chances are you won’t opening an Etsy store soon. But it’s the taking part that counts.” Louise, mum to Nora, six years, Rosa, three years, and Lois, 11 months

Embrace the outdoors

“A bit of fresh air, whatever the weather, often makes everyone happier and stops the cycle of grizzles” Sus, dad to Eleanor, three years, and Oscar, 19 months

“I forget how curious my son can be. So now if we go for a walk I try to let him out of the pushchair and go at his pace, looking at all the little things he finds rather than rushing him along. I just have to remember to add at least half an hour to get anywhere” Carly, mum to Elliott, 18 months

Be in the moment

“Confession: I don’t always enjoy playing with my children. Sometimes having a browse on Instagram is preferable to reading yet another lift-the-flap book. So I set myself goals – if I give the kids my undivided attention for an hour without looking at my phone I can enjoy 10 minutes guilt-free screen time. They feel valued and I get a little break. Works for me anyway.” Mark, dad to Sophie, two years, and Max, 19 months

“Even when work is stressful and I’m desperate to check my emails, I try to model what I think are good behaviours. So if he’s watching an episode of Peppa, I’ll check my phone. But if he’s eating at the table, I’ll sit with him and put my phone away.” Meera, mum to Charlie, 21 months

Patience by the bucketload

“If you lose your patience, don’t beat yourself up. Try and learn from what went wrong and next time you’re frustrated take a deep breath and count to five before reacting. Easier said than done, admittedly.” Tali, mum to Marlow, 23 months

“Don’t raise your voice with your kids. And when you find the magic formula to stop yourself doing it, please let me know what it is.” Lizzie, mum to Sarah, two and a half and Miles, 21 months

Go with your gut

“Don’t worry what anyone else thinks. Not grandparents, not the older ladies in the garden centre cafe, not the people on the bus. You know your child best and you’ll make the right decisions for them." Nadia, mum to Ruby, 10 months.

“On our colic journey, pretty much every good decision I made was one that someone disagreed with. But I’m so glad I made the decisions I did. If other people’s advice doesn’t feel right, ignore it. Whenever I’ve tried those things, they haven’t worked for us. I know my family.” Jodie, mum to Arthur, three months.

“I always think that listening to your gut means you’re doing what you think is best for your child. And as parents, isn’t that all we can do?” Valentine, dad to Martha, two years, and Felix, eight weeks.

This page was last reviewed in February 2018

Further information

Our support line offers practical and emotional support with feeding your baby and general enquiries for parents, members and volunteers: 0300 330 0700.

We also offer antenatal courses which are a great way to find out more about birth, labour and life with a new baby.

Make friends with other parents-to-be and new parents in your local area for support and friendship by seeing what NCT activities are happening nearby.

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