When three-year-old Samara goes up to her friend and grabs a toy out of her hands, Samara’s mother instantly scolds her by saying, “No! Give that toy back right now or you will be punished.”
When three-year-old Samara goes up to her friend and grabs a toy out of her hands, Samara’s mother sees what is happening and says to her child, “Okay, play with the toy now if you really want to.”
When three-year-old Samara goes up to her friend and grabs a toy out of her hands, Samara’s mother sees what her daughter is doing, but does not say or do anything about it. She does not really acknowledge the behavior, nor correct it. The child is left alone to continue playing.
When three-year-old Samara goes up to her friend and grabs a toy out of her hands, Samara’s mother observes and walks up to where Samara is playing. She sits down next to her child and says, “I understand that you want to play with this toy, but your friend is playing with it right now, so you will have to wait a few minutes for your turn to play with the toy.”
As is evident from the four scenarios given above, the child’s behavior is the same, but the mother’s reaction in each situation is different. Each of these four scenarios represents a particular type of parenting style. In the most basic terms, a parenting style refers to the strategies used by parents in their child’s upbringing. A pioneer in parenting research, Diana Baumrind, suggested that there are four main types of parenting styles. They are further explained below:
The first scenario is an example of the Authoritarian parenting style. In simple language, this type of parenting is strict and rigid. These parents tend to have certain rules and expectations which are already set down, and there may be very little space for the child and parent to openly communicate with each other. The parents may expect the child to do things the way the parents want it to be done. (Remember how Samara was ordered to give the toy back, and was threatened with a punishment).
When the child does something wrong, an authoritarian parent may discipline the child by using a punishment, without usually explaining what they did wrong. Therefore, this style of parenting is structured and rigid. As a result, the child may be well behaved, but may also develop a low self-esteem, be fearful or shy, and have poorer social skills.
The second scenario is an example of the Permissive parenting style. This is also called an indulgent style of parenting. Permissive parents usually set down only a few rules for their child and tend to be lenient when giving punishments. The parent may not be consistent with punishments. They are responsive to the child, but not demanding. (Remember how Samara’s mother acknowledged her behavior but was lenient and not demanding).
Children of permissive parents may have less self-discipline and self-control, because they don’t always have rules as guidelines. They may also find it more difficult to share with other children, and may question authority figures (such as teachers) directly. These children may also crave for structure and discipline in their lives.
The third scenario is an example of the Neglectful parenting style. This is also called the uninvolved parenting style. The basic characteristic of this style of parenting is an unresponsive parent, i.e., a parent who does not respond to the child’s needs. These parents may not be emotionally involved with their child at all, and may also dismiss their child regularly. They do not show their love and affection for the child, and have little or no expectations of their child.(Remember how the mother saw Samara grabbing the toy from another child, but chose to ignore it and let her child continue playing).
Neglectful parenting may lead to feelings of insecurity and the child may be afraid to become close to others. They may not be able to follow rules properly, as rules were not well established in their own homes. The child may lack self-control, and thus misbehave in later life.
The fourth scenario is an example of the Authoritative parenting style. This means that the style of parenting is based on an open communication between the parent and child. Authoritative parents tend to set reasonable limits for their children, while considering and understanding their child’s feelings and opinions. When the child does something wrong, an authoritative parent tries to explain to the child what he/she did, and the consequences of such behaviors, rather than handing out a punishment/threat immediately.(Remember how the mother explained to Samara what she did wrong before being teaching her how to wait for her turn to play with the toy. In addition, Samara’s mother communicated that she understood what her child’s need was).
Authoritative parents generally tend to be responsive to their children, and also respect their child’s independence. As a result, children of these parents tend to become independent, well behaved and understanding. They may have a strong bond with their parents, as they are encouraged to discuss their feelings and expectations freely. Therefore, the authoritative style of parenting tends to be balanced and healthy.
As a parent, your style of parenting may not fall into one specific category. Rather, it may be a combination of two or more different styles, depending on the situation or depending on your child’s needs. There isn’t one particular parenting style which is the best for every child, but a balanced approach towards parenting is the most beneficial. This involves care, appreciation, communication, understanding and respect for the child, along with a consistent enforcement of rules. A balanced parenting style helps the child grow into an independent and responsible adult.
Do you often find yourself confused about your parenting style? Do you feel that your method of parenting doesn’t seem to be effective? Our experts at Parenting On Demand can not only help you identify your parenting style(s), but also help you understand how your style(s) of parenting influences your child’s behavior. So go ahead and reach out to our experts at P.O.D who can assist you in your parenting needs.