Seeing the Whole Package with Parenting Styles

January 13, 2009

Before we become parents, we often envision how terrific we will be. Certainly, we want to be wonderful parents and we want to nurture the best characteristics in our children. The question, of course, is how to do this. When we actually find ourselves as parents, the vision of what it meant to be a perfect parent changes, and we're left with real life challenges as parents.

Discipline and Parenting

Parenting styles are vitally important to a child's development. The type of parent that you are, and the way that you discipline, will certainly influence your child's development. When evaluating your parenting style, it is also important to evaluate your child's personality. Certainly, there will be certain parenting techniques that you are most comfortable using no matter which child you are interacting with; however, in order to really parent to the best of your ability, you do need to take your child's personality into consideration as well.

Parenting Styles

Researcher Diana Baumrind grouped parenting styles into four main areas. These four groupings certainly have more nuance than what is described here, and parents may find themselves moving from one type of parenting style to another, depending on the situation. However, there are four main groups. Authoritarian, or extremely strict parents, are highly controlling and stress obedience. Authoritative or moderate parents set limits and rely on consequences that come naturally for children to learn about making their own mistakes. They explain the importance of rules and talk with their children. They consider their child's viewpoint and are firm, yet kind. Permissive parents exert little control, but are very loving. They allow children to set their own rules and do not demand high levels of behavior. Uninvolved parents demand very little and respond in a minimalistic way.

How Do Parenting Styles Affect Children?

Researchers have found that the authoritative, moderate parenting style is generally the best to use with most children. This includes giving children high demands with emotional responsiveness and respect for their autonomy, opinions and needs. Overly strict parents often create a situation where children have little creativity or freedom of expression. Permissive parents make too few demands on children and have difficulty controlling children's behavior.

Considering Children's Styles And Discipline

When deciding how to parent and discipline, it is also important to take into consideration your child's personality and temperament. Three broad types of temperament that researchers have isolated are: the easy child (who is calm, happy, easy to get to sleep and eat), the difficult child (who is fussy, doesn't eat or sleep regularly, and is not easily adaptable), and the slow to warm up child (who is inactive, reflective and tends to react negatively to new situations but eventually warms up). The most important thing for parents is to try to create a good fit between their parenting style and their child's temperament. When parents are sensitive to a child's temperament, and can recognize a child's unique strengths and weaknesses, it can make the family life much smoother and the disciplining easier.

Overall, when trying to parent well, it's important to remember that we are raising little people. We need to be attuned to our children's temperaments and needs and encourage them to accomplish tasks at their own pace. We need to make our expectations clear and set clear limits with them. We need to communicate and make sure that their opinions are respected. We will certainly make mistakes along the way; but, as long as we are trying and we care, we should be able to succeed in raising thoughtful, caring and well behaved children.

 

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