Guest blog post by Stephanie Gutzmer, AuD, ABAC, C-IAYT
As a parent, how you interact with and discipline your child will influence the rest of your child’s life. Recognizing whether your style is supporting your child’s health, growth, and development can help guide you to becoming the parent you would like to be. Keep reading to learn how different parenting styles affect child development.
Types of Parenting Styles
Developmental psychologist Diana Baumrind developed the theory linking children’s behavior and parenting style, categorizing the styles. Notably, parents often do not fit into just one style but are more of a combination of the following few:
Authoritarian parents believe their children should follow the rules without exception. They typically are not interested in negotiating with their children, rather they focus on their children’s obedience. Authoritarian parents don’t always give room for their children to problem solve through challenges. Instead, they make and enforce rules.
Children who grow up with strict authoritarian parents typically follow the rules most of the time. They have a higher risk of developing self-esteem problems because they feel their parents don’t value their opinions. They may also be more aggressive and become good liars to avoid punishment.
Related Reading: How to Teach Your Child to Cope with Anxiety
Authoritative parents have rules and consequences for not listening; however, they take their children’s opinions into account, validating their feelings. These parents take the time and energy to prevent behavior problems from arising and use positive discipline strategies to reinforce desired behavior.
Children of authoritative parents are more likely to be responsible as adults, evaluate safety risks, and make the right decisions. These children then tend to be happy, more successful, and feel the freedom to express their opinions.
Permissive parents are very lenient, setting rules but not consistently enforcing them. These parents adopt more of a friend role, encouraging their children to talk to them about their problems but not focus on discouraging lousy behavior or poor choices.
Children of permissive parents typically struggle academically, and exhibit behavioral problems since they have learned rules can be broken with enough effort. These children may report a lot of sadness and have low self-esteem.
Related Reading: My Child is Depressed! What Can I Do?
Uninvolved parents allow children to raise themselves and have little knowledge of what is going on in their children’s lives. There are often few rules, and children may not receive much guidance, nurturing, or parental attention. Uninvolved parents may be neglectful; however, this may not always be intentional, as it can be the result of parental mental health issues or substance abuse. Other times, they may be overwhelmed with work, managing the household, or other stressors.
Children who grow up with uninvolved parents may struggle with self-esteem issues, perform poorly in school, report low happiness, and exhibit frequent behavioral problems.
Which Parenting Style is the Best?
More often than not, parents don’t fit neatly into one specific category but are some combination of the four. And as noted, your specific combination of parenting styles affect child development differently. So don’t worry if you aren’t consistently one. However, the more often you use authoritative parenting, the better it is for your child.
Related Reading: How Childhood Trauma Affects Parenting Styles
But what if you don’t fall into this category? Good news: everyone can become more authoritative when parenting, and you can even match some authoritative parenting strategies to your child’s temperament. Here are some authoritative parenting strategies for you to try:
– Listen to your child’s opinions and concerns, allowing them to share their ideas.
Even if they tell you a joke for the millionth time or a long-winded, difficult to follow story, listen as often as you can. Yes, it will take up a few minutes of your time and try your patience, but giving your child positive attention and validation goes a long way towards preventing bad behavior.
– Correct behavior, not emotions.
The next time your child is upset, resist the urge to minimize the feeling. Instead label the emotion to help them understand it. And give your child consequences for the actions taken in response to the emotion, instead of squashing the emotion itself upon onset. For example, there should be a consequence when your child bites their sibling. However, your child should hear from you that it’s ok to be frustrated.
– Check-in with how your child feels.
When making a decision that affects your child, consider checking in with your child about how they feel about the situation. This allows them to explore and process what it means to feel what they are feeling. However, checking in with them about their emotion doesn’t mean they get an equal say in the decision. Children lack the mental capacity to make adult decisions. They will feel more secure if they understand you know best while recognizing they have an opinion.
– Establish and maintain clear rules.
Having and maintaining rules and boundaries is a good start. However, clearly explaining the rules and the reasons behind the rules set the stage for your child to make better choices in the future. When your child learns the underlying safety concerns, health hazards, moral dilemmas, or societal norms behind the rules, your child will better understand how life operates and will likely follow the rules when you aren’t around to enforce them.
– For minor transgressions, give them a warning and an opportunity to make a better choice.
Big rule violations, like hitting, deserve an immediate consequence, like a time out. However, if it’s a minor issue, give your child a warning of what will result if they continue. Just telling your kid to “knock it off” or going straight to punishment doesn’t help guide your child through their choices and teach them how to make good choices.
The Parenting Style To Adopt
Ultimately, it’s best to work towards being a good role model for your child and teaching your child valuable life skills. Spending even a few minutes a day focused on what is important to your child will help them feel accepted and loved! This connection is essential to helping them feel confident and capable in their world.
Unsure how to adjust your parenting in a way that fits for you? A family therapist can help. If you are in the greater Chicago area, contact one of our qualified family therapists at (630) 423-5935 to help you and your family get unstuck in unhealthy patterns. Life Care Wellness has offices in Glen Ellyn, Jefferson Park (Chicago), and Sycamore, Illinois.