The Why and How of Responsive Parenting

Responsive parenting is becoming more and more popular. And for good reason! Studies have shown responsive parenting has a long lasting affect on children.

The Why and How of Responsive Parenting

What is Responsive Parenting?

Responsive parenting is the way a parent responds to and interacts with their child. A parent’s reaction is vital and contains wide range benefits for the child. A responsive parent responds to a child’s emotional, physical and cognitive needs regularly. This leads to better cognitive and psychosocial development as well as protection from disease and mortality. Studies have found that enhancing a parent’s responsiveness will result in better overall child health and development.

How Can I Be a Responsive Parent?

Many parents are responsive naturally. However, if a parent was raised with authoritative or uninvolved parents they may not understand HOW to be responsive. Parents who tend to be responsive may want to do so more often, or grow as a parent. Here are a few ways parents can be more responsive.

  • Be predictable. Children thrive on predictability. Respond to your child’s cries, yells and calls. Let them know that when they need you, you will be there.
  • Show empathy. Ask yourself what your child may be thinking, or what the situation looks like from your child’s view. Watch for cues. Don’t make assumptions.
  • Be available emotionally. Talk to your child about sadness when you are crying. Smile when you are happy. Describe feelings on a regular basis. In addition, don’t withdraw emotion when a child misbehaves or acts out.
  • Have clear boundaries. Children need boundaries in order to feel safe and loved. Set boundaries for your child and discuss them on a regular basis. These boundaries can be in effect for the whole family. For example, we don’t hit, we show respect, etc. If a child crosses a boundary you must respond.
  • Don’t worry about spoiling! Children need to feel secure. This comes from holding, touching, wearing (babies), playing, cuddling, and rocking. A more secure child will be more independent later. By making your child feel more secure your interaction with them will become richer and deeper.

Why Responsive Parenting?

Studies have found that children raised by responsive parents show more empathy, have better emotional regulation and more advanced reasoning skills. In some cases they may even test with higher IQs.  Responsive parents make their children feel safe. This means they are overall less stressed and more relaxed.


Responsive parenting is becoming more popular for a reason. It works! Consider looking more into becoming a responsive parent today.

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