Last Updated on August 22, 2021.
What is the goal of parenting? How can we raise the best possible kids? Here are the 10 top parenting goals we should be focused on in 2021.
At some point, every parent asks themselves: What is the goal of parenting? What exactly are we trying to do over the next 18 to 20 years? I think these goals change with every generation. As new research emerges, and new technologies are developed, parents across the globe need to reconsider the goal of parenting. So I’ve pulled together the top 10 foundational goals for parents in 2021.
Develop a deep connection
There’s ample research that suggests that kids who develop a healthy emotional attachment to their parents and caregivers go on to be well rounded adults. They tend to be healthier (mentally and physically), develop healthy adult relationships, are more successful in their careers, and are better members of society. As a bonus, parents who have strong connections with their children tend to live longer. It’s a win/win!
To develop a deep connection with your kids you will have to invest time. Your time is the most valuable gift you can give your kids. And you can start with as little as 15 minutes a day to set a solid foundation for your relationship to flourish. Try our Connected Parent Challenge (15 minutes a day for 15 days!)
Foster a love of learning (and a growth mindset)
Your child’s mindset is possibly the most important factor in their lifelong success. Kids who develop a growth mindset achieve more difficult goals, have higher levels of motivation, benefit from enhanced brain development, and have better professional and personal relationships. And if that’s not enough, they also tend to have lower levels of stress and anxiety, as well as a reduced risk of depression and mental illness. If you’re able to focus on only one goal of parenting, this is the one because the benefits are so plentiful!
So what is a growth mindset? It’s the belief that goals are achieved through hard work, good decision making, and persistence, as opposed to the idea that you’re born an innate talent and that your potential is limited (known as a fixed mindset). In other words, a growth mindset means you believe the possibilities are endless. Start by encouraging positive affirmations, and continue using positive parenting strategies to foster personal growth.
Spend time outdoors every day
Time outside can be like a magic potion. Get your kids in the habit of spending time outdoors so they can reap all the amazing benefits of nature. They will benefit from increased brain function; lower risks of anxiety, depression, and other mental illnesses; improved physical wellness; and boost their immune system, just to name a few!
A walk around the block is enough to see significant improvements in your child’s health. Plus, if they’re outside, they’re probably not engaged in more screen-time! This is probably the easiest goal of parenting a child in 2021, so make it a priority!
Build a strong sense of empathy
Did you know that empathy is the greatest factor in the strength of relationships? When we have the ability to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes, it can greatly improve our lives. For example, kids who show empathy have more friends and tend to be better friends. It can boost your child’s self-esteem and confidence. It encourages tolerance and acceptance, especially of people who are different. And it encourages growth and learning.
As a parent, we can model empathy with our child. And then offer suggestions in situations where you want your child to feel empathy. For example, if a friend gets hurt, you might say “It looks like Jake is sad because he got hurt on the slide! How can we help him feel better?” You could also read books that demonstrate empathy.
Master emotional intelligence
Emotions can easily get the best of us. Even adults struggle to step outside their feelings to make good decisions. It’s a difficult skill to master, but once kids gain the ability to control their emotions and express them effectively, they’ll be happier.
Kids (and adults) with emotional intelligence are more resilient than those who struggle managing their emotions. They also achieve more difficult goals, develop strong relationships, avoid and defuse conflicts more easily, and reduce their risk of stress and anxiety.
So how do you teach kids emotional intelligence? It starts with naming their emotions. Foster an environment where emotions aren’t stifled. Let kids express their emotions appropriately. And teach them coping mechanisms, like these super simple grounding strategies.
Develop a strong sense of community
Every parent wants their kids to be contributing members of society. The best way to do that is to make them feel needed and valued. Encourage kids to take part in their community, whether that be in your own home with your immediate family, or your larger neighborhood or city.
In addition to making contributions to society, help kids understand that their actions have consequences for society as well. Kids who understand their impact tend to make better choices.
How do you develop a sense of community? It starts in your home. Give your kids jobs (chores or family contributions) that they need to do in exchange for living within your little community. Even the littlest kids can fold washcloths and match socks! And slowly increase your child’s circle of responsibility. Eventually, you could encourage them to volunteer at the local animal shelter or food pantry. Once they get involved, they will naturally see the consequences of their actions (or inactions) on the world around them
Master communication skills
Kids who can express themselves clearly are much better off for a number of reasons. First, they feel less stress and anxiety over not being understood. Second, they feel like a valued member of the family because their thoughts and feelings are heard and understood.
It’s important to note that communication skills include listening skills. Children need to know how to listen and actually hear the people they are communicating with. Studies show that kids with above average communication skills do better in school, experience fewer conflicts with peers, and are generally better friends.
The absolute best way to teach kids to communicate effectively is to model excellent communication skills. Your kids will imitate your behavior! If you yell and talk over your spouse or partner, your kid’s will do the same. If you can resolve conflicts without raising your voice, your kids are much more likely to solve problems in a calm voice as well.
Sometimes it’s easier to solve problems for your kids rather than to let the consequences play out. But when we intervene, kids are not learning valuable lessons. You don’t want to be that helicopter mom who finds herself calling college professors about poor grades.
Practice using related, logical consequences with your kids so they learn how to function as adults. Better yet, let the natural consequences play out. For example, if your middle schooler repeatedly leaves homework on the dining table, stop driving it up to school on your lunch break. A couple missed assignments will probably be enough for them to remember their homework (or at least set up a system to help them remember).
Want to create highly effective consequences for your kids? Check out our guide to consequences, including a free workbook to help you create custom consequences for your kids.
Foster a deep sense of intrinsic motivation
The research is clear. You kids will perform better when they are motivated from within. When kids feel good about themselves and feel a strong sense of pride, it will create a fire within them to strive for greater things that make them feel even better.
It’s so easy to use extrinsic (external) motivation to get kids to listen. Things like offering prizes for cleaning their room, stickers for using the potty, or money for good grades are among the most popular extrinsic motivators. Even saying encouraging phrases like “I am so proud of you!” is considered extrinsic motivation (because it encourages them to make YOU proud)
Encouraging intrinsic motivation sounds like this. “You worked so hard! You must feel so proud!”
Are you ready to start encouraging intrinsic motivation? Here’s our complete guide to motivating kids effectively.
Self-manage screen time
Screen time is a plague for our kids. Some would argue that managing screen time should be the primary goal of parenting in 2021. There’s no shortage of news articles, research studies, and documentaries like the Social Dilemma that illustrate our addiction to screens. What’s worse, our kids are addicted to screens. And while the jury may still be out on exactly how bad screens are for kids, we know that it does create attention issues, limits their desire to explore and learn, and impacts their cognitive development. Even tech moguls like Steve Jobbs and Bill Gates are known to have had strict screen time limits for their kids. So it’s best to err on the side of caution and stick to the APA guidelines for your child’s age.
And an even better idea is to teach kids to self-manage their screen time. Have them research the issues with screens, especially social media. Talk about the recommended amount of screen time, and decide on an acceptable amount for your family. Then set up an accountability system. How will you track screen time? How will you avoid getting lost in the scroll (which is exactly what social media apps are designed for)?
When your kids are part of the process, understand the risks of screen time, and have input into the solution for your family, they are much more likely to comply with your family policies. And, perhaps more importantly, your kids develop a life-long habit of managing their screen time.
Did you skip ahead? No Problem!!
What’s the goal of parenting? Do you want to be the best parent possible in 2021? Here are the 10 foundational goals of parenting that will help your kids thrive.
- Develop a deep connection
- Foster a love of learning (and a growth mindset)
- Spend time outdoors every day
- Build a strong sense of empathy
- Master emotional intelligence
- Develop a strong sense of community
- Master communication skills
- Teach consequences
- Foster a deep sense of intrinsic motivation
- Self-manage screen time
What You Should Do Next…
Are you ready for more activities to build a rock-solid bond with your kids? Try our Connected Parent Challenge! It’s 15 Days of 15 Minute activities that are sure to improve your connection, diminish bad behavior, and create lasting memories. Plus, I’ll deliver more amazing parenting strategies to your inbox weekly (don’t worry, unsubscribe any time!).
Connect with like-minded moms (and dads!) in our free online community. You’ll find a plethora of resources to help you through your parenting challenges. Plus, you’ll find me there! And I’d love to connect.
Do you need actionable strategies right now? Register for this free 60-minute webinar titled How to Get Kids to Listen, Without Nagging, Yelling or Losing Control. You’ll walk away with parent-tested tactics to get your kids to listen starting today.