PROS AND CONS OF 4 DIFFERENT PARENTING STYLES
Most parents want to promote the well-being of their children so that they can flourish, have good moral, and intellectual character. However, parents wonder how to instill these values and skills into their children. Parenting styles usually fall into 4 categories called authoritarian, permissive, uninvolved, and authoritative. Let’s explore each of these styles.
1. The Authoritarian style. Authoritarian parents are controlling and very strict. They often have unrealistic expectations for their children and require absolute obedience. These parents are high-demanding, but not very responsive. The child will therefore not develop a strong bond with his parents as he fears them. As a result, studies show that children of authoritarian children tend to be timid, have low self-esteem, and lack spontaneity.
2. The Permissive style. Permissive parents, while warm and accepting, make few demands on their children. They have a tendency to be lenient, tend to avoid confrontation, and may worry about thwarting their child creativity. So, they tend to give their children what they want. Some try to compensate for what they did not have themselves as a child: freedom and/or material goods. In return, such parents may implicitly hope for low demand from their children. The children of permissive parents may come to feel entitled to privileges and material goods.
3. The Uninvolved style. The uninvolved parent demands nothing and gives almost nothing in return, except almost absolute freedom. The most frequent explicit and implicit message is “Whatever”. At its worst, it can verge into neglect. By their indifference or inability to deal with their children, uninvolved parents often lead their children to have a lifetime of havoc.
4. The Authoritative style. While retaining authority and control, these parents are warm and communicative. They seek a balance between the wants/needs of their children and their own demands. They use a collaborative approach in which all parties are heard and valued. The goal is to find the best solution for everyone: it is the win-win situation. The parents are demanding, responsive, and assertive, yet not intrusive or restrictive.
Research shows that authoritative parenting balances clear, high parental demands with emotional responsiveness and recognition of the child’s autonomy. The child of authoritative parents typically does well in school, develops good social skills, and avoids problem behaviors.
WHY KIDS SHOULD PUSH BOUNDARIES
While most parents are reluctant to let their children try risky play, it is indeed essential for children to experience activities such as climbing trees, practicing skateboard stunts, and racing bikes fast. This kind of play is actually healthy on a developmental level. The benefits range from reducing obesity to putting down video games to increasing children’ resilience in the face of obstacles. However, in our 21st century world, anxious parents focus on preventing minor injuries that were once assumed to be part of the childhood. So, the question is to find ways to ally both worlds so that children can get a thrill while staying safe.
Here are a few reflections:
1. It is natural for children to experience tumultuous play when running, jumping, balancing, and even falling safely. Through trial and error, children learn physical skills and how to face challenging events without fear. For example, climbing trees reduce the fear of heights. When children have constantly an adult who tell them what to do or when to stop, then children will not test their own limits nor develop their self-confidence when making decisions.
2. The key is to encourage healthy risks. By giving more autonomy to children, they will adjust gradually. The idea is to expose children to small risks so they can gain experience safely. When the lesson is small, it is good to let them learn it.
3. Differentiating risks and hazards. Risks are situations children can evaluate reasonably before making their own decisions while hazards are dangers a child cannot be expected to be aware of or handle. Parents’ role is to point out these differences to their children.
4. Leave no for big stuff. When parents interfere constantly, children can start second-guessing themselves, get distracted, or tune parents out completely. In deciding to step in, weigh the possible consequences of your child’s actions so that when you say no, it must be really dangerous.
Finding the right balance between allowing healthy risks and protecting your child is not an easy task. However, it is essential if we want to promote healthy development for our children.
WHY YOUR TODDLER TANTRUMS ARE BENEFICIAL
For almost any parent toddler tantrums are challenging as most of us feel overwhelmed and helpless. We also wonder how to handle our child’s kicking and screaming. However, toddler tantrums are actually an essential component of her emotional development and need to be experienced by your child when growing up.
Here are a few reasons why tantrums are indeed a good thing:
1. Crying helps release stress. When your toddler is angry, frustrated, or whining, her tears will improve her emotional well-being if a loved one is close to support her. Once the storm has passed, your child will likely be in a better mood. It is important to not interrupt the process of tantrum as it allows the child to get to the end of her feelings.
2. Setting clear boundaries is necessary. While saying no to your child may provoke the tantrum, it is indeed a good opportunity to set clear boundaries about your expectations regarding her behavior. Standing firm with your limits while offering love, empathy, and emotional support help your child understand what is acceptable and what is not.
3. Tantrums reflect how your child is feeling. When you say no, your toddler tantrum is an expression of how she feels about it. On a deeper level, your child is looking for love and connection. This is why empathizing with her emotions is so essential.
4. It may help your child sleep better. When you try to avoid tantrums, then your child does not process her emotions. As a result, just like adults, her unresolved emotions bubble up at night. Allowing your child to get to the end of her tantrum improves her overall well-being and may help her sleep better.
5. Tantrums may be healing for parents as well. Your child tantrum may trigger unconscious memories of how you were treated as a child. If no one listened to your outbursts with empathy, then your child’s upsets may kick up big feelings in you. So, dealing with your child tantrums may be an opportunity to deal with your own emotional challenges from your past.
Since it is truly difficult to handle a child tantrum, it is important to focus on self-care: talking to a friend, watching a movie, hiking, or listening to music are beneficial activities. Staying calm while listening empathetically to your child’s feelings of upset without trying to stop or fix them will help your child release them.
HOW TO HANDLE CURSING AND SWEARING
As a parent, at some point, you will be confronted with the inappropriate use of language from your child. Whether you find it amusing or irritating, your role is to teach your child to use language that does not offend others. Depending on the child’s age, his behavior is motivated by various reasons. When very young children swear, they are just repeating what they have heard. They are learning the language and do not try to offend anyone. Older children may swear for various reasons: trying a new “cool” word, getting the parent’s attention, expressing feelings such as frustration, wanting to hurt others, or showing off in front of their peers.
Since most parents do not want their child to swear or curse, here are a few tips to help parents handle it:
1. Do not overact. If a parent overacts when hearing a bad word, chances are that it will reinforce the behavior. Your child understands then that using offensive language gets your attention or your child can also use it to get on your nerves.
2. Avoid confronting your child about the swearing if he does it when angry or upset. This will add only more fuel. Instead, at a calmer time, work through the problem and explain to him why bad language should not have been used in that context.
3. Consider the context of the swear-word. Calling someone a bad name is not the same as swearing when tripping and falling.
4. Watch your own language. Your child may pick up this habit at home. The more a parent swears the more the child will think it is acceptable to do it as well.
5. Model your reaction when swearing accidentally. Depending on your own values, you may apologize or you may explain to your child that cursing at home is not the same as cursing at school or at work. Whatever your values are, explain them to your child.
6. Take into consideration your child’s age. As discussed above, a 4 year-old has not the same reasons as a 10 year-old to use bad words.
7. Offer acceptable alternatives to swearing. Plenty of words in English can express feelings without being offensive or drawing attention. You can even encourage your child to make up his own silly expressions instead of using curse words.
8. When swearing becomes a habit, make up alternative words to replace the swear words. Reward your child if he has not used cursing words for a certain period of time. Discuss with him what the reward should be and how long he should talk without swear words to get the reward.
Whether you think your child should not use cursing words at all or he could use swear words in certain contexts, make sure to discuss your values with your child and to model your language according to your values.
WHEN THE PARENT ACTS AS A GUIDE
Parents often wonder what their role is and how they can fulfill it. This question is perfectly legitimate and research shows that acting as a coach/guide toward our children is the most effective role a parent can have. Demonstrating in details how you would like your child to behave, having her practice the behavior, and praising her along with constructive criticism promote healthy emotional and social development.
Here are a few tips about how to be an accomplished parent:
1. Be a good listener. Use good eye contact and get physically down to the level of your small child. Do not interrupt your child and ask open ended questions rather than questions that can be answered with a yes or no. Make sure you understand what your child tells you by repeating back to her what you heard.
2. Rather than telling her what not to do, teach and show her what to do. For instance, instead of saying “Don’t hit your sister”, tell her: “If you are angry at your sister, use your words.” You may need to model the phrase that your child could use. For instance, tell her: “You could say to your sister: “I don’t like when you take my doll, that makes me feel angry. Please ask me next time.”
3. Use descriptive praising when your child does something you appreciate. Be specific. For example, say “I like when you buckle your seat belt when you get into the car.”
4. Whenever possible, give her choices of when and how to comply to a request. This gives a feeling of power and belonging to your child who will think she is part of the family.
5. Spend quality time with your child on a regular basis. Your child needs emotional connection more than anything else. By playing with her, reading to her, discussing with her, or collaborating with her on a project, you show her your interest in who she truly is. This equals love to your child.
6. Help your child learn how to express how she feels. Ask her questions about her emotional state. “You look angry.”, “How are you feeling?”, “You seem angry about that.” Then validate her feelings “It is OK to feel sad when your play date is cancelled. “ Or “It must be really frustrating to hear your friend cannot come over.”
When you see your role as a guide or a coach toward your child, then your approach becomes more collaborative and constructive. You are helping your child become a socially, emotionally, and physically balanced individual.
As a parent and a therapist, I want to offer some tips on how to raise happy and healthy kids. Please feel free to comment on my posts.