There is always a debate about how much Nature V Nurture has an influence in raising children happy, confident, well balanced children and I have written about this in more detail in my Raising Happy Children For Dummies book but researchers have uncovered compelling links between parenting styles and the effects these styles have on children.
During the early 1960s, psychologist Diana Baumrind conducted a study on more than 100 preschool-age children. Using observation, parental interviews and other research methods, she identified four important aspects of parenting:
- Disciplinary strategies
- Warmth and nurturance
- Communication styles
- Expectations of maturity and control
Further research by Maccoby and Martin in 1983 also suggested the addition of a fourth parenting style.
Our parenting style can be one that we naturally are inclined to, or it can be influenced by the way we were brought up as children, or in many cases, with the parents I work with, it can be a reaction against the way you were brought up. But I think it’s helpful to at least be aware of your parenting style particularly as it needs to change during the teenage years when you need to become more flexible.
But one thing I believe kids of all ages need is firm, fair, consistent discipline.
Here are the Four Parenting Styles – which one are you and do let me know how that style is impacting on your family happiness as I might be able to help you improve it.
The Four Parenting Styles
- Authoritarian Parenting
In this style of parenting, children are expected to follow the strict rules established by you and failure to follow your rules usually results in a punishment or consequence of some sort. Often I find that Authoritarian parents fail to explain the reasoning behind these rules and if they are asked to explain, they often simply reply, “Because I said so.” These parents have high demands, but are not responsive to their children and are not very flexible in their parenting approach and they expect their orders to be obeyed without explanation which can cause friction and frustration in their children so arguments often erupt, particularly in the toddler and teenage years when children are striving for independence.
- Authoritative Parenting
Like authoritarian parents, authoritative parents have rules and guidelines that their children are expected to follow but they are far more flexible and democratic. Authoritative parents are in charge but they are more responsive to their children and willing to listen to their questions and explain why they have the rules that they have. “If you eat sweets before your tea you won’t feel hungry and you need to eat a healthy meal first. Sweets are a treat.” When children fail to meet the expectations, these parents are more nurturing and forgiving rather than punishing. They are assertive, but aren’t too harsh, judgmental, critical or too restrictive. Their disciplinary methods are supportive, rather than punitive. Parents with this style want their children to learn to be assertive as well as socially responsible, and they enjoy “talking and teaching” their children so they grow up learning to self-regulate as well as be cooperative.
This for me this is one of the best styles of parenting and where I help parents the most when I work with them.
- Permissive Parenting
Permissive parents are sometimes referred to as indulgent parents, who make very few demands on their children. These parents rarely discipline their kids because they have relatively low expectations of maturity and self-control and don’t expect their children to be able to do as they are told. They are nontraditional and lenient, and they don’t expect their kids to show mature behaviour, or be able to self-regulate, and these parents avoid confrontation. Permissive parents are generally nurturing and communicative with their children, but they try to be their child’s friend rather than their parent and when I work them they are often exhausted !
- Uninvolved Parenting
An uninvolved parenting style is characterised by few demands, low responsiveness and little communication. While these parents fulfill their child’s basic needs, they are generally detached from their child’s life. In extreme cases, these parents may even reject or neglect the needs of their children and these are the parents who never seek out my advice.
The Impact of Parenting Styles
So what effect do these parenting styles have on a child’s development outcome?
- Authoritarian parenting styles generally lead to children who are obedient and proficient, but they rank lower in happiness, social competence and self-esteem.
- Authoritative parenting styles tend to result in children who are happy, capable and successful (Maccoby, 1992).
- Permissive parenting often results in children who rank low in happiness and self-regulation. These children are more likely to experience problems with authority and tend to perform poorly in school.
- Uninvolved parenting styles rank lowest across all studies. These children tend to lack self-control, have low self-esteem and are less competent than their peers.
Why is it that authoritative parenting provides such advantages over other styles?
First, when children perceive their parents’ requests as fair and reasonable, they are more likely to comply with the requests. Secondly, children are more likely to internalise (or accept as their own) the reasons for behaving in a certain way and are therefore able to achieve greater self-control.
Why Do Parenting Styles Differ?
After learning about the impact of parenting styles on your child’s development, you may wonder why all parents don’t simply use the authoritative parenting style. After all, this parenting style is the most likely to produce happy, confident, capable, well balanced, positive, independent children.
There are lots of reasons why parenting styles vary but some of them include differences in culture, personality, family size, parental background, socioeconomic status, educational level, and religion.
Of course, the parenting styles of each individual parent combines to create a unique blend in each and every family. For example, the mum may display an authoritative style while the dad favours a more permissive approach and kids love to play one parent off against the other don’t they?
So the secret is to sing from the same song sheet in order to create a cohesive approach to parenting and it’s essential that you learn to cooperate as you combine your particular parenting styles, but don’t forget that your child’s personality and temperament can also play a major role in how this all works at home!
There is no universally “best” style of parenting – just yours but the bottom line is, in my opinion, that the authoritative style is generally linked to more positive, well behaved, happy children with strong self-esteem and self-competence.
If you need a hand is exploring new ideas, fresh ways of doing things and would like to learn some of my unique and successful strategies drop me an email on sue@TheSueAtkins.comand let’s get together to sort things out J