5 Simple Parenting Skills to Enhance Your Relationship with Your Young Child [BLOG]

By Cheryl McNeil, Ph.D.; Robin Han, M.S.Ed.; and Erinn Victory, B.A.

Cheryl McNeil is a licensed psychologist and professor at West Virginia University. She is a Certified Global Trainer of Parent-Child Interaction Therapy, an evidence-based treatment for disruptive behavior in young children. 

Mother and Son Playing with Child’s Play Clay at Home

As a parent, you may be bombarded with advice on the best parenting practices. You want to know how to interact positively with your child, but all of the tips and suggestions can be confusing and overwhelming. In this post, we want to share with you five easy skills that you can use throughout the day to make your interactions with your children easy and enjoyable. These five skills are often referred to as PRIDE skills, as they spell out the acronym “PRIDE.” 

P- Praise

Praises can be used throughout the day to show that you approve of your child’s behavior. By praising your child’s positive behavior, it increases the chance that they will repeat that behavior. Whenever your child does something well, you may already praise your child by saying “Good job!” or “Thank you!” However, research shows that praises are more effective when they are specific. By using specific praises, your child knows exactly what you liked and will experience a boost in self-esteem.

“I love when you give me hugs!”

“What a beautiful drawing!”

“Thank you for using your manners.”

R- Reflect

Reflections are a way to affirm your child by repeating or paraphrasing your child’s statements. Reflections show that you are listening to your child and that you approve of what they are saying. They can also help improve and increase your child’s speech. This may feel awkward at first but will soon come naturally to you with practice. 

Child: “This is my favorite shirt.”

Parent: “That is your favorite shirt!”

I- Imitate

During play, you can imitate your child by joining in their play activities. For example, if your child is on the floor playing with blocks, you can sit next to them and build with blocks as well. If your child begins to play with trains, you can follow your child’s lead by playing with trains. By imitating your child’s play, you will make playtime more fun and engaging for your child and teach your child how to play cooperatively with others.

Child: (coloring with crayons)

Parent: “I’m going to color with you!”

D- Describe

Behavior descriptions are a great way to show that you are interested in and attending to what your child is doing. When using behavior descriptions, pretend you are a sportscaster giving a running commentary of your child’s behaviors. Behavior descriptions can model speech for your child, expand their vocabulary, and increase their attention span. 

Child: (driving a toy truck)

Parent: “You are driving the blue truck around the racetrack!”

E- Enjoy

Finally, show your child that you are happy to be with them. You can show your enjoyment by using an enthusiastic tone of voice, giving your child hugs and back rubs, and by simply saying that you are enjoying your time together. 

“I am having such a good time playing with you!”

These 5 PRIDE skills can be used throughout the day to enhance your relationship with your child. You can use these at the dinner table, during playtime, or when your child is doing homework. Try the PRIDE skills the next time you engage with your child! Remember to Praise, Reflect, Imitate, Describe, and Enjoy! 


Click here to watch a video of the PRIDE skills

PRIDE Skills Handout

PCIT International Website

PRIDE Skill Challenge

The Cooperation Chart for Disruptive Behaviors

Quick Tip:

Sign up for a Home Visiting Program! These programs are so helpful to new moms! They can help get you things that you need and teach you tricks on being a new mom and raising your baby. These programs will come right to your home and don’t worry, they do not judge you about ANYTHING and are just there for support! Click here to sign up

Get Connected

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4th Trimester Project

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