Parenting styles have been extensively studied for decades. How you parent your children has a tremendous impact on their future success and relationships.
Parenting methods are typically categorized into four styles — authoritarian, permissive, neglectful, and authoritative. Research has repeatedly found that children have better outcomes across almost all areas of development when parents use one particular style.
Read on to find out which parenting style is the most effective and which ones you should avoid.
In 1966, Diana Baumrind — a clinical and developmental psychologist — grouped parenting styles into three different categories, and wrote about the effects of each style on preschoolers' behavior and success in school. A fourth style was later added by two researchers, Maccoby and Martin.
Parents who use this approach are rigid disciplinarians. They expect their children to obey without question and often harshly punish them when they don't.
Permissive parents are overly indulgent. They don't set boundaries or have expectations of their children. Their children tend to have trouble with authority and self-regulation.
Neglectful — or Uninvolved
Children of uninvolved or neglectful parents have the worst outcomes. They have low self-esteem, lack self-control, and are less competent than their peers.
Good parents display the qualities of the authoritative parenting style. This style is associated with the best outcomes for children.
Children who’ve had authoritative parents grow up to be self-confident and competent. Their parents communicate with them, have high expectations, and express a lot of warmth and affection toward them.
Qualities of good parents
While every child has individual needs, authoritative parenting strategies will benefit almost every child. Here are some things authoritative parents should include in their parenting.
Express Love and Affection
Although the vast majority of parents love their children, it's important to express your love to your child. You can do this by being physically affectionate with your child and spending quality one-on-one time with them.
Good parents talk to and listen to their children. Explain the reasons behind your rules so your child will understand your values. Listen to your child and be open to hearing their feelings and suggestions. Reasoning with your child will help them learn self-regulation and how to behave when no one is watching.
Although it's important to communicate with your child, you are still the parent. Listening to your children doesn't mean you let them call the shots.
Lovingly setting and enforcing limits will keep your child safe and encourage them to internalize your values. Use positive reinforcement as often as possible when you set limits for your child.
Manage Your Own Stress
Managing your stress can have a big impact on both your relationship with your child and how happy your child is. Being able to stay calm is one of the most important qualities of a good parent. If you struggle with this, look into meditation, breathing exercises, or other ways to manage stressful situations.
Maintain a Good Relationship With Your Child's Other Parent
Whether you're in a relationship with your child's other parent or not, maintaining a cordial relationship with them is important. You should always speak kindly and respectfully about the other parent in front of your child. Resolve conflicts when your child isn't around.
Along with setting limits, you should teach your child to accept responsibility for themselves. You can do this by encouraging them to:
- Complete their homework on time
- Participate in community activities
- Find ways to help others
- Accept the outcomes of their good and bad choices
- Clean up after themselves
- Do chores that benefit the family
These are just a few ways you can help your child develop a sense of responsibility for themselves and their actions.
Be a Good Role Model
Your child will learn more from watching you than from listening to you. You can't expect your child to be polite and respectful if you blow up whenever things don't go according to plan. Model the behavior you want to see from your child, and they'll likely follow your lead.
Unfortunately, they'll pick up on your bad behaviors as well — so think before you act. Treat your child the way you want them to treat others.
Provide New Experiences
Within your means, try to provide your child with a wide range of new experiences.
Support your child's interests with books, lessons, and other resources. Introduce your child to new activities, places, and people. Let your child try a variety of activities without pressuring them to choose just one.
Exploring different cultures and careers can open new doors for your child.
Place more emphasis on what your child is doing right than what they're doing wrong. By pointing out good behavior, you'll encourage continued good behavior in your child.
Reacting negatively and criticizing your child is not as effective as praising good behavior. Catch your child doing something right as often as possible. When you point out your child's positive traits, they'll think more positively about themselves.
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KidsHealth: "Nine Steps to More Effective Parenting."
Muraco, J.; Ruiz, W.; Laff, R.; Thompson, R.; Lang D. Baumrind's Parenting Styles. Iowa State University Digital Press.
Scientific American Mind: "What Makes a Good Parent?"
U.S. Department of Education: "Being an Effective Parent -- Helping Your Child Through Early Adolescence.
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