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Parenting Styles and Your Child – Advice from an Expert on Raising Children

Being a parent means that there are all sorts of difficult decisions that you have to make on a daily basis! Because we at Breeze know how important your children are to you, we want to help parents find out more about different parenting styles and ways of raising children. This way, you can help your little one have new experiences, learn new things, and develop and grow.

We’ve been talking to Lisa Maley about parenting styles. Lisa is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in California, USA, and she has lots of experience in helping children and adults learn and grow. In a previous article, Lisa told us all about the importance of discipline for kids and different strategies for disciplining your child. Let’s talk with her now about parenting styles and raising children!

There seem to be many different ways to raise children. What are some of the most common parenting styles? Is there an ideal parenting style?

Psychologist Diana Baumrind identified four commonly referenced parenting styles –authoritative, authoritarian, permissive, and uninvolved.

  • An authoritative parenting style is comparable to a democratic style of parenting. Parents are found to be attentive, forgiving, and teach their children pro-social behaviors. These parents also typically have a clear set of reasonable rules for their children, which are supported by a reward or reinforcement if the rules are followed or a fair consequence if the rules are not followed.
  • An authoritarian parenting style typically involves parents who have a high level of expectations for their children but very little communication between the parent and the child. These parents typically will rarely share with their child logical reasoning for their limits and rules, and are prone to engage in harsh punishments for perceived misbehavior.
  • Permissive parents typically take on the role of being their kid’s friend rather than parent, and have few if any expectations for their child. Parents with a permissive parenting style typically allow their child the endless freedom to make their own decisions.
  • An uninvolved parenting style is utilized by parents who are found to neglect their child’s needs by putting their own needs first. Uninvolved parents typically provide for their child’s basic needs but has very little desire for engagement with the child otherwise.

Overall, Baumrind found that the most balanced and ideal parenting style – which will lead to children being independent, mature, and socially engaged – is the Authoritative style. Most families seem to have a blend of two or more of these styles because each parent has their own parenting style.  

What are the long-lasting effects of different parenting styles and ways of child rearing on children? In particular, how does the use of physical violence or “spanking” affect a child’s development?

There has long been a debate on the long-term effects of different discipline styles on children. Today, repeated studies show us that when discipline techniques cross over into violent acts (verbal and physical) against our children, the child’s development will likely be affected. These aspects will be affected: their ability to maintain their mood, delay gratification, engage in effective problem solving and abstract thinking, or perform other tasks of “executive functioning.”

The purpose of discipline is to keep our children safe and teach them how to navigate other people and situations in the future. Thus discipline is a very important way for children to learn how to interact with their world. If the discipline strategies and parenting styles used by parents are harsh and unpredictable, then the child may become fearful and angry as he or she grows older. Alternatively, if discipline strategies appear fair and are delivered consistently, children are able to develop self-discipline and healthy assertiveness skills – this is great for their future!  

Comparing your children to others – in some families this is regarded as a way of teaching healthy competitiveness. Do you agree, or would you recommend parents refrained from this kind of behaviour?

The act of comparing children’s behaviours can be an effective and healthy modelling technique – when used in moderation! This is something like this, “Do you see how Arjun is standing in line? He is doing a good job with being patient.” I find that parents sometimes run into the mistake of comparing their child to other children or their siblings so frequently that their child loses their own identity and becomes more involved with trying to “blend in” to meet their parent’s approval.

There are a lot of opportunities today for children to engage in building healthy competition skills – like playing a sport or doing different activities as a family! These activities will foster much better results than the child experiencing criticism from their parent.    

And finally – is there a “perfect” type of parenting and enforcing discipline? If so, how would you describe it?

I think you would be hard pressed to find that there is one perfect parenting style. The technique I review most with parents is Positive Discipline, created by Jane Nelsen, Ed. D. This parenting guideline allows parents to be creative and remain calmly assertive without using fear-based techniques to guide children’s behaviour. As parents, so much happens that is unexpected – so instead of focussing on having a solution for every problem, parents are better off investing their energy in building a set of problem solving skills that are versatile and can be applied throughout all the stages of parenting and child development.  

What are your thoughts on different parenting styles? Have you tried the Positive Discipline technique with your child? Share your experiences and views with other moms by leaving a comment.  

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