by Dr. Valerie Allen, Licensed School Psychologist ~ Rehabilitation Counselor
The New Year brings added attention to the fact that children are in a constant state of growth and development. One day your daughter is interested in dolls and tea parties and the next she is experimenting with make-up and high heels. What happened to that lovable little boy who played so nicely with the puppy? This is the same boy who now thinks you are his private taxi service. In a matter of weeks or months, children’s needs and behaviors change and so must our style of parenting. What worked at three will not work as well at 13.
The goal of parenting is to raise children who are independent of us. The job of a parent is to instill values and morals, so the child understands right from wrong and makes appropriate choices when on his own. When we are not there with reminders about being on time, keeping safe, and hand washing, will our child be in a position to know what to do, how to do it, and motivated to do it well?
What can parents do to help raise positive children, who enjoy life and are pleasant to be with? Impossible you say! All is not lost. Research has identified four basic parenting styles: Authoritative, Authoritarian, Permissive and Uninvolved. One has proved to have a more successful outcome when raising children.
The Authoritative Parent: provides a loving, supportive, home environment. These parents hold high expectations and standards for their children’s behavior. They enforce household rules consistently and explain why some behaviors are acceptable and others are not. Children are included in family decision making.
The Authoritarian Parent: holds high expectations and standards for their children’s behavior, however, they convey less emotional warmth directly toward their children. They establish rules of behavior, but they may not take the child’s needs into account. They tend to expect immediate obedience, without question by the children. Parents make “family decisions” without input from the children.
The Permissive Parent: may provide a loving, supportive, home environment, however, hold few expectations or standards for their children’s behavior. They rarely discipline the child for inappropriate behavior and tend to make excuses for their child’s offenses. Children are allowed to make their own decisions about their lifestyle without guidance or standards set by the parents.
The Uninvolved Parent: provides little, if any, emotional support; even when they are home, they tend to be uninvolved with the children and family activities. They hold few expectations or standards for their children’s behavior. They have little interest in their children’s lives and seem overwhelmed or over involved in their own work or problems.
The Authoritative parenting proved to be the most effective style to develop positive social skills in children. Authoritative parents tend to raise children who are happy, self-confident, independent, and respectful of others.
Resolve this new year to tell your child every day “I love you” with your words and by your actions. Take time to be involved in your child’s life at home, at school, and with friends. Your efforts will help create open communication, mutual respect, and a loving relationship with your child throughout the year ahead.
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Dr. Valerie Allen is a child psychologist in private practice n Melbourne, FL. She is the author of two children’s books, “Summer School for Smarties” and “Bad Hair, Good Hat, New Friends.” Oh yes, she has also raised six children! Contact Dr. Allen at DrValerieAlen@cs.com. Learn more about her at www.DrVAllen.com. Purchase her books at www.amazon.com/author/valerieallen