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Raising Great Kids: What Does the Research Say? Part III

By: Bridgette W. Gottwald, LPC, NCC

It’s important to recognize that not all kids are raised by two parents, or by their biological parents at all. These children are not at a disadvantage. This blog series has articulated a large body of research within and across genders that highlight the needs that mothers and fathers (or other guardians) can fulfill as children. But don’t fret, if one or some of these needs go unmet, it does not mean that the child is in jeopardy or that they cannot have a satisfying relationship with parents, guardians, or others.

To finish up this three-part blog series, here at 5 tips that all parents should keep in mind:

  1. Children learn to love from a secure attachment from at least one loving adult. 

Secure attachment is developed within the first year by parents listening to their unique child’s needs and responding to them appropriately. Secure attachment is continued by nurturing and accepting the full range of who their child is – including the undesirable parts and flaws. Parents are less likely to raise an attached child when they are intrusive (rather than taking the child’s cues) or react out of their own needs instead of responding to the needs of the child. Having this close relationship is what motivates kids to cooperate and accept their parent’s rules and role-modeling.

  1. Children learn self-discipline from limits with empathy. 

When children are raised without limits, they are not given the opportunity to practice self-discipline, which inhibits them from being considerate of others and manage themselves and their behaviors during unpleasant tasks. So, you might be thinking how do we create limits and impose them with empathy? Here’s an example:

“I see you’re mad! Shoes are not for throwing, no matter how mad you are. Let’s try to use our words to express how we are feeling instead.” 

Children might not like this limit, but at least they will not be stuck in resistance! Instead, they will feel understood, supported, and connected.

  1. Children learn to self-soothe by being soothed by parents. 

This happens because neural pathways that release soothing biochemicals are formed by and when the baby is being soothed by the parent. Leaving a small child alone with big emotions does not make them feel safe – in fact, it will make it harder for them to calm themselves later in life.

  1. Children learn to manage their emotions, and thus their behavior when parents emotion-coach

Emotion coaching is an alternative to shutting down. Doing this causes kids to be healthier and more successful in every way. Emotion coaching involves the child’s parent noticing the emotions and seeing and or using them as an opportunity to engage in intimacy or teaching. Once the child has the opportunity to express the emotion, then the parent should assist in problem-solving. Emotion coaching is important because the child feels safe enough to feel the emotion, so then they can begin to dissipate.

  1. Children learn what they live. 

Keep it simple – if you are considerate and respectful to your child, they will turn to be considerate and respectable people. If a child is behaving rudely or disrespectfully, they learned it from somewhere. If these behaviors are something that they bring into your house – gently remind them that this is not how we relate and that style of communicating is not acceptable. At the end of the day, what your children experience as they grow up with you will depend on who you are as a person, and this has proven to be more important than any parenting philosophy.


Flint, D. (2021). The Research on Raising Great Kids. Bowling Green State University.

5 things we know for sure about raiding great kids. Aha! Retrieved from:

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