What’s Your Parenting Style?

It is not uncommon for parents to ask, “Why does he listen to you and not me?” or for them to ask a teacher to handle a conflict for them because they know that the teacher is able to get their child to follow through. As educators, we are taught to handle behaviors in a very specific way to achieve the desired outcome. We work in an environment conducive to dealing with these behaviors and we don’t have all of the distractions that families have on a daily basis. What’s the secret? Set firm limits within a supportive, loving relationship, to eliminate power struggles and start seeing your child behave “appropriately” in any situation. Although children are likely to test limits, once they learn that you say what you mean and mean what you say, the testing will become much less frequent.  Below are some scenarios to get you thinking about how you may handle issues in the past, present, or future.

1. You and your child are having a playdate with another family from your child’s class. Your child grabs a toy from her friend. The other mother seems horrified! Your response is:

a. Insist that your child return the toy immediately.

b. You say “Your friend is playing with this toy now. In a few minutes, you can take turns playing with the toy.”

c. You rationalize that because your child is the rightful owner of the toy, you choose not to intervene.

2. At 5:00, after a very long work day and an exhausting trip to the grocery store you pick up your child at Alphabet Academy.  Your child requests an additional snack upon arriving home.  You have just picked up all of his favorite ingredients to make a delicious dinner but it won’t be ready for about an hour. You: 

a. Allow your child to choose what he wants to eat from the kitchen.

b. Refuse the request because that violates your one snack rule and you know he won’t be hungry for dinner.

c. You offer two options and allow your child to choose.

3. Upon arriving at school you say to your child, “It’s time to put your coat away.” He or she says, “No.” This power struggle is quickly escalating into a major temper tantrum and you are already running 30 minutes late!  You respond by:

a. Saying, “Will you do it by yourself or do you need me to help you?”

b. Putting it away for them.

c. Saying “It’s not OK to say no to me,” then having them take a break.

4. You are at a birthday party and it’s time to go. After giving a five minute warning, your child still does not want to leave and starts to whine and cry. You are worried at how it might escalate and look in front of your fellow parents, so you say:

a. “I understand you want to stay, but I gave you a five minute warning and now it’s not a choice. We will see all of your friends on Monday!” and either hold hands or carry her to the door. 

b. “Don’t cry in front of your friends. We are leaving now and you have lost your book privileges tonight.”

c. “OK, you can have two more minutes and then you get a special treat in the car!”

1: a(3) b(2) c(1)      2: a(1) b(3) c(2)      3. a(2) b(1) c(3)      4. a(2) b(3) c(1)

These Parenting styles are based on the research of developmental psychologist Diana Baumrind.

Score 4-6: Permissive

Permissive parents are more responsive than they are demanding. They tend to set lower expectations of their children’s maturity and self-control and are less likely to discipline in order to avoid confrontation. Although they are nurturing and communicative, they tend to act more like a friend than a parent.  Research shows that children of permissive parents are more likely to experience problems with authority and perform poorly in school.

Score 7-9: Authoritative

Authoritative parents tend to be more democratic and willing to listen to their child’s questions. They establish firm limits with high expectations for their children to abide by them, yet are nurturing and forgiving if they do not. According to Baumrind, these parents “monitor and impart clear standards for their children’s conduct.” Research shows that children of authoritative parents are happy, capable, and successful.

Score 10-12: Authoritarian

Authoritarian parents expect their children to follow strict rules and failure to do so will result in punishment. These parents will rarely explain the reasoning behind the rules. The parents set very firm limits but are low in nurturing and responsiveness. Research shows that children of authoritarian parents are very obedient and proficient but rank lower in happiness, social competence, and self-esteem.

For more information: http://psychology.about.com/od/developmentalpsychology/a/parenting-style.htm

-Cora Megan