Manual Parenting by Temperament: Authoritative Parenting

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These situations, and many more, can challenge even experienced parents. But one parenting model has withstood fads and changing times. And it works well for all different kinds of families, regardless of their ethnicity, income, education, or structure. It's called authoritative parenting. And it deserves more attention.

Parenting Styles and Children's Temperament

Developed by Diana Baumrind in at the University of California at Berkeley, the authoritative parenting model has evolved over the years. But most importantly, studies show that children raised with authoritative parenting are the most psychologically well-adjusted. They are creative and intellectually curious, and intrinsically motivated to achieve. They have good social skills and remain connected to parents and friends. And they manage themselves well--they are self-reliant, self-confident, they take initiative, and they have good self-control. Responsiveness, or nurturance, refers to the warmth, love, understanding, and empathy that a parent offers a child.

Responsive parenting accepts the child's unique needs, abilities, and perspectives, taking age and temperament into account. Responsive parents delight in their children and stay attuned to their feelings.

Demandingness , or control, refers to age-appropriate limits, boundaries, and expectation that parents set for children. Behavioral guidelines and standards are best clarified through discussion and explanation, preferably ahead of time, which exercises the child's ability to reason rather than blindly obey. Discipline and power-assertion are last resorts--best reserved for issues of safety.

Children become more autonomous as they get older the end goal is they manage their lives themselves , so the authoritative parent celebrates the child's small steps toward independence. Again, skilled authoritative parents keep their expectations appropriate, taking into account the child's developmental skills and temperament. How might these elements be applied to a real situation?

In the case of the preschooler above a true story , the parents sympathized with the child's distress. They knew, too, that children this age are just developing the neurological ability to manage and inhibit their own behavior. So the parents decided this was not a battle they wanted to fight.

How he looked, they reasoned, was less important than his comfortable participation in the happy events. So they allowed him to wear what he wanted, and the family met their bigger goal of connecting with and enjoying their extended family celebration. The two dimensions of responsiveness and demandingness can intersect in at least four ways. Each way yields different parenting behaviors and leads to different child outcomes. Authoritarian parenting uses too much control and not enough nurturance.

With these parents, it's "my way or the highway. These parents want the child to "suck it up" without exploring what it feels like for the child. They value rules, obedience, and conformity, and they tend to be punitive, inflexible, and controlling. They do not value a child's growing independence but rather restrict his autonomy--often creating increasing conflict as the child grows. Authoritarian parents are not very interested in their child's point of view, since they are sure they know what's best.

In the extreme, this type of parenting can devolve into abuse. Authoritative, or a moderate style where parents set limits, but rely on children learning from their own mistakes. Parents explain why rules are important to follow and reason with their children.

Parents, Kids, and Discipline

They set high standards for their children and place a value on independence of their children. In so doing, parents are firm, but with kindness, warmth and love. Authoritarian , or extremely strict, parents are highly controlling.

They dictate how their children should behave and stress obedience to authority and discourage discussion. In being demanding and directive, they expect their orders to be obeyed without any give-and-take. Permissive , or indulgent, parents are accepting and warm, but do not set limits, and allow children to set their own rules, schedules and activities. They do not set limits on behavior as authoritarian or authoritative parents do.

Uninvolved parents are sometimes described as caring more about themselves than their children and demand little and respond minimally. Taken to an extreme, this parenting style might entail neglect and rejection.

"Child temperament, parenting styles and externalizing and internalizin" by Shakuntla Brar

In terms of social competence, research has found that the best adjusted children have parents with an authoritative or moderate parenting style. These parents have high expectations for their children and use control, but respect their child's autonomy. On the other hand, authoritarian or overly strict parents allow the child little freedom of expression resulting in children that lack spontaneity and tend to be reliant on the voice of authority.

Permissive parents make few demands and their children may have difficulty controlling their impulses, and can be immature and reluctant to accept responsibility.

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Parenting is an interactive situation. Children have temperaments that may affect their parents' style, or put another way, each may affect the other.

Temperament is the preferred way of responding toward people and events. Children in the same family often have different temperaments. Parents, in response, may respond differently to an overly active, impulsive child than to a shy, timid kid--discourage impulsive behavior in the overly active child but encourage assertive behavior in the shy child. It's the mix or the " best fit " between parent and child that matters most.

What Is Discipline?

The match or mismatch between a child and parent determines the harmony between them. Temperament is not set in stone and family environment and life experiences can make a difference. All parents and children are unique. Situations differ. Parenting styles may overlap, but below are some things to keep in mind. Making co-parenting work effectively in two separate households is challenging , but the result is well worth the investment.

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