Responding to misbehavior is one of the greatest challenges every parent faces. Your child does or doesn’t do something, and you must know how to respond. Parents who understand basic parenting styles are better prepared to choose the right response for their child. There are four parenting styles every parent must recognize and understand.
The first style is authoritarian parenting. In this approach the parent’s feelings, thoughts, words and actions dominate the parent-child encounter. The feelings of the child are not listened to, dismissed or disavowed. The authoritarian parent says: “I am right, and you are wrong. Do what I say because I said so.” This attitude does not support reciprocity or shared communication. In this parent-centered approach the feelings, thoughts, words and actions of the child are neglected, unobserved or lost and forgotten. This approach hinders sincere and honest parent-child communication and neglects problem solving. It diminishes a child’s self-esteem and self-worth and often leads to hidden anger or hostile and aggressive behavior by the child.
The second style is authoritative parenting. Parents who utilize this approach demonstrate unconditional love for their child while at the same time setting clear and consistent boundaries. These parents rely on empathy and emotional awareness to see what their child sees and understand their child’s emotions and behavior. By seeing the situation through the eyes of their child they are able to recognize and understand the reason behind their child’s behavior. This allows parental responses to be guided by the child’s emotions. Authoritative parenting supports the development of strong, healthy and trusting relationships and teaches children how emotions work as well as how to manage their own emotions.
The third parenting style is permissive parenting. Permissive parents view the parent to child relationship primarily as a friendship. They avoid rule-making out of fear that their relationship with the child will be damaged and their child will be less attached to them. With permissive parenting parental authority is not supported, and this approach teaches children not to respect or honor their parents. These parents accept their child’s emotions no matter how the child behaves. Boundaries are not identified and often children become confused while their behavior continues to deteriorate. Permissive parenting often leads to extended temper tantrums, acting out behaviors and an inability to handle emotions, recognize social cues and develop reciprocal shared relationships.
The final parenting style is that of the uninvolved parent. Uninvolved parents lack attachment to their child. They act as if they did not know or care about their child’s emotions or actions and often avoid direct touching contact with their child. Uninvolved parents verbally and visually neglect their child or like authoritarian parents use dismissive or disavowing response techniques to distance themselves from their child. This parenting style leads to disengagement, separation, low self-esteem and underachievement. These children have difficulty connecting and listening to others. In rare situations children raised under this style become highly resilient overachievers with over developed coping skills and immature relationship skills. These children tend to hide their own emotions and have difficulty resolving emotional conflicts while at the same time neglecting the emotions of others.
By being aware and understanding these parenting styles you are able to teach your child respect, cooperation and the ability to recognize, understand and respond to personal emotions and the emotions of others. Listening and emotional coaching are the greatest parenting gifts you can give your child.