Best Practices in Parenting

Written by Dr. Brendan McCollum

Parenting Styles and How To Improve Your Interactions With Your Child

As a parent, it is important to learn how to effectively communicate with your children, whether they be young children or adolescents. How we interact with our kids will often shape how they are able to cope with stress, interact with others, and ultimately who they become as adults. Dr.  Diana Baumrind and other researchers have identified 4 types of parenting styles and their effects on children and adolescents. Take a look at each to see if you can identify what type of parenting style you can most identify with currently:

The Authoritarian Parent

  • Believes children should follow the rules without exception (i.e. my way or the highway)
  • Doesn’t allow the child to solve problems or challenges for themselves. They are only told what to do with no further explanation.
  • Has little regard for a child’s opinion and tend to not listen to their child

In general, children of authoritarian parents tend to follow rules but fail to develop self-esteem as their opinion is not validated by their parents. They may also become hostile and aggressive due to the lingering anger they may have towards their parents. Children of authoritarian parents often tend to become good liars to avoid punishments.

The Authoritative Parent

  • Has rules and uses consequences, but also take their children’s opinions into account
  • Validates their children’s feelings, while also making it clear that adults are ultimately in charge
  • Invests time and energy into preventing behavior problems before they start
  • Utilizes praise, reward and consequence systems consistently and effectively

Children of authoritative parents tend to be much happier and more successful. They are also more likely to make good decisions and evaluate safety risks on their own.

The Permissive Parent

  • Is lenient and will only step in when there’s a serious problem
  • Tends to be quite forgiving and adopts a “kids will be kids” attitude
  • When consequences are used, they may give in more often to reducing or removing the consequence if the child begs or pleads
  • Usually takes on more of a friend role than a parent role
  • May talk a lot about children’s problems, but doesn’t discourage poor choices or bad behavior

Children of passive parents tend to struggle with academics, exhibit more behavioral problems, have lower self-esteem and may report increased sadness. Additionally, kids of passive parents don’t appreciate rules and authority and are often at higher risk of health problems (e.g., obesity, dental cavities).

The Uninvolved Parent

  • Expects the child to raise themselves with minimal involvement from the parent
  • Exerts minimal devotion of time and energy to meet basic child’s needs
  • May be neglectful of basic child needs (e.g., food, safety)
  • Lacks knowledge about child development

Children of uninvolved parents tend to struggle with self-esteem, perform poorly in school, exhibit frequent behavior problems, and tend to have increased sadness.

As you may have noticed, the authoritative parenting style results in the best outcomes for their children. Additionally, authoritative parents report the lowest levels of stress compared to parents who utilize the other parenting styles. Even if you fall into one of the other parenting styles, you can implement strategies to move more towards the authoritative parenting style.

How to become an authoritative parent

  • Create rules for the household and be firm with making sure they are followed, but take the time to communicate with your child so they know the reason behind the rule
  • Make sure you allow your child to express their emotions in an appropriate manner (e.g., utilizing “I feel” statements)
  • When the child does not comply with a parental demand, react with minimal emotion and focus on ensuring the child understands the consequences of their actions and what behaviors they can display to earn their privileges back.
  • Model appropriate behaviors (e.g., When you are presented with something that elicits intense emotions, model appropriate ways to positively cope with the emotion)
  • Model appropriate conversation skills (e.g., reflective listening) when having a disagreement with the other parent.

While you may experience some resistance at first, children are amazingly resilient. Just make sure to stay consistent with the authoritative parenting style and you’ll notice a shift in their behavior before long! If you need assistance moving to an authoritative parenting style, let the team at Carter Psychology Center know so we can help you and your child with more effective communication!