Raising competent kids: The authoritative parenting style
It's the nightly battle! Our 4-yearold does NOT want to take a bath. She is busy with her toys and knows the routine-bath and then bed. She is moving toward a tantrum.
How can parents resolve such problems without risking full-blown conflict? Family researchers have identified four styles that parents use to interact with their children: authoritative, authoritarian, permissive, and neglectful. Although some families fall between the styles, most families use one of the following approaches:
- Authoritative parents are demanding and responsive, controlling but not restrictive. This child-centered pattern includes high parental involvement, interest, and active participation in the child's life; open communication; trust and acceptance; encouragement of psychological autonomy; and awareness of where children are, with whom, and what they are doing.
- Authoritarian parents are demanding, but not responsive. They show little trust toward their children, and their way of engagement is strictly adult-centered. These parents often fear losing control, and they discourage open communication.
- Permissive parents are responsive, warm, accepting, and childcentered,but non-demanding. They lack parental control.
- Neglectful parents are neither responsive nor demanding. They do not support or encourage their child's self-regulation, and they often fail to monitor or supervise the child's behavior. They are uninvolved.
- Open communication: The dog, sick and old, needs to be put to sleep. Depending on the age of the child, this is a time to discuss death, mourning, and moving on, while not forgetting. Listening to children's viewpoints and letting them have some say in problem solving encourages them to become participants in decision making, not recipients of an already-made decision. If children disappoint, disobey, disgust, or discourage the parents, they can discuss the problem openly and find alternative acceptable behaviors.
- Trust, acceptance, and psychological autonomy: Kit wants to take dance lessons this fall; by spring it will be horseback riding, and then tennis will be the hot activity in the summer. The child is testing herself-where do her interests and talents lie? Does she always need to do what her friends do? Authoritative parents follow children's needs, encouraging those interests or talents the child wants to pursue. Children feel trusted and accepted, giving them the tools to make good decisions. They develop responsibility to themselves and to their family. They understand that they have the responsibility to behave in an acceptable manner.
- Knowing what the child is doing: Authoritative families set expectations for family members. Family members indicate where they will be, how they can be reached, and what time they are expected home. This gives everyone a sense of security, re-emphasizes the importance of the family, and provides a safety net should anything happen.
Things You Need to Know About Authoritative Parenting
- Authoritarian Parenting, Permissive Parenting and Authoritative Parenting
The authoritative parent differs from the authoritarian parent. While the spelling of the two is similar, the defense in style is dramatic. Authoritative parenting is a method proven to be successful for competent and socially well-adjusted children. The model aims between the permissive parenting and strict authoritarian parenting. While there are clear expectations, as with the authoritarian parent, there is also encouragement for the child to attain individuality and independence, something lacking in the world of the authoritarian.
- The Place for Rules in Authoritative Parenting
Guidelines are clear in the authoritative household, but still flexible enough to account for special situations or the child's personality. Authoritative parents aren't friends of the child but they interact and listen to the child's viewpoint in most instances. Even though the parent's decision still rules, there is a mutual respect shown and the child has the right to state their opinion. While consistency is important, there is no room for rigidity in this style of parenting.
- Not Blind Following
The authoritative parent respects the rights of the child and the child's opinion but expects the same respect in return. The authoritative parent never asks the child to follow arbitrarily but offers gentle interaction and helps the child to understand the reason for the rule and problem with the transgression. The parent never leaves the child feeling unloved, but offers greater respect for doing the right thing.
- The Social Child and Authoritative Parenting
Children of authoritative parents tend to be more social and outgoing. Studies show that children of authoritarian parents are more withdrawn. Those with extremely permissive parents believe that the universe revolves around them and do not do well when others' feelings are involved. The mutual give and take and discussion of the authoritative parent leads to a better understanding of others' needs and higher self esteem. Both of these attributes contribute to a more socially acceptable personality.
- Internal Rules vs. External Control
The result of raising a child in an authoritative home is the creation of an independent child whose moral platform comes from within the child. Even though the strict punishment and adherence to rules in the authoritarian home is supposed to bring moral values to the child's world, many raised in that situation tend to look to the outer world for confirmation of right and wrong.
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