What makes a good parent is, of course, subjective. Generally, we know a few things are universal when it comes to being a better mother or father. We all have good and bad days when it comes to parenting so don’t stress about this. Sometimes it doesn’t even take more than just loving your child. Being there with them, making time for them, listening to their needs and keeping them safe are just a few fundamentals. Here are a few parenting tips and traits that can help you be the best parent you can be.

Be present

You are your child’s favorite person. You are their whole world. Take some pressure off your self and don’t strive for perfection. Just be there and be you. Making time for your kids is one of the most important things you can do as a parent. This doesn’t mean quit your job and give them undivided attention 24 hours a day. This simply means carving out some pockets of time where you put down your phone, don’t think about anything else and just be there with them. Whether it’s playing, reading, snuggling before bed, sharing a meal or just sharing a chat, these are the times you’ll both remember.

It’s easy to get caught up in our phones and busy lives. Being home with your child while you work, scroll through social media or mindlessly read articles online, doesn’t always count as connected time. It only needs to be a few minutes to make a big difference to your child. Chances are when you think you’re going to play with your child for 10 minutes, 20 will fly by before you even look at the time. Good parenting starts with feeling a connection with you. You being there with them is one of the best ways to make them feel safe, secure, loved.

Listen to your kids

Being distracted doesn’t always stop at playtime. Often times our kids come to us with a problem, a question, or just a silly saying and we are only halfway paying attention. Certain kids at certain ages love to chat, so it, of course, isn’t feasible to answer every question all the time but it’s important to make quality quiet time to just listen to our kids. They will feel you care and you’re genuine about listening to them. You’ll likely learn something you didn’t know in your conversations too. As they get older, this time is even more crucial.

Kids of all ages need to know there is someone there who they can vent to. They need to know there is someone there to listen and someone there to help them through a problem. Going through the world as a kid can be scary enough. Give your kids some security in knowing that you’re available to talk and to really listen when they need you. If your child is having a hard time opening up, you could try something less formal like going for a walk and waiting for them to start talking. No matter how or when you do it, just setting aside some time to simply listen is key.

Don’t put them down

Kids deal with a lot of pressures in life. There is pressure from you, pressures at school, and peer pressure going on all the time. Give them a lifeline in you. Be supportive instead of comparing them to other kids, their siblings or yourself. Don’t put them down, shame them, or make them feel insecure about themselves. This sort of negative reinforcement isn’t healthy or productive. They will compare themselves enough on their own. You should be the one who lifts them up, celebrates their uniqueness and offers them solutions and helps if they are struggling in a certain aspect.

Instead of putting down your child for not following a rule or getting a bad grade, ask them how you can help them. Maybe some extra time talking through what’s going on is needed. Give your child the feeling that you’re there for them and you’re there to help. Just knowing you’re there will likely even give them a boost to solve their problem without you.

Show consistency

Being consistent in parenting starts on day one. Babies and toddlers especially need consistent routines, environments, and schedules to give them a feeling of security. The world is a big scary place for a little person. You are often your small child’s only sense of familiarity at first. Giving babies a familiar routine, sleep schedule and environment from the beginning will help them transition through the day knowing what comes next. While there will always be days the schedule doesn’t go as planned or that you’re out in a different environment but making those days even as familiar as possible can help tremendously.

For older children, consistent schedules and routines are still very important. While they are old enough to know their own schedule now, it still is extremely beneficial for them to know that you’re consistent. Kids from eight days to eighteen years old need to know you’re always there for them and that they have a supportive and consistent home life.

Support them

Being a supportive parent doesn’t mean always agreeing with your child, praising them like puppies or downplaying their intelligence in any way. Kids know fake enthusiasm when they see it. While you may always celebrate the big wins, show them praise at unexpected times as well. It’s, of course, important to show up for child’s games, plays, school events, and accomplishments when you can. But showing them support at other times during the day can really go a long way. Sometimes they just need an unexpected hug and to hear how proud you are of them. It’s a little something to keep them motivated and feeling that crucial connection with you.

They key take away with all of this is that it doesn’t take millions of dollars and toys to show our love and be a good parent. It doesn’t matter if you work, stay at home, use a $15 sippy cup or a $2 one. Your kid won’t remember if they were fed breast milk or formula. They won’t remember if they had hand-me-down shoes or new ones when they were in preschool either. What they will remember is how present you were and how connected they felt with you. Make time for your kids. Show up for them mentally and physically as often as you can. Get silly and play whenever possible. Listening and being supportive will go a long way in helping you have a healthy relationship with your child. Don’t stress about doing major activities for hours with your kids all the time. Small windows of time spent listening and being present are some of the easiest parenting skills to master. Remember that you’re their favorite person and just being with you is all they need.