Adopting a set of good parenting skills can be a bother, but the rewards are well worth it and I am here to share some tips.
According to adolescence expert Laurence Steinberg, Ph.D., “Parenting is one of the most researched areas in the entire field of social science”, but, in my personal opinion, there isn’t really a set way of parenting for all children.
Every child is unique and different.
Heck, styles drastically change throughout different stages in a child’s life and you cannot apply the same methods all the time.
You have to know how to adapt to the changes they exhibit during their growth, both physically and psychologically.
The 4 types of parenting styles
Psychologists do get some things right though.
No matter what you decide on doing, the way you do it usually falls into one of the 4 categories of parenting styles measured in levels of discipline and parental involvement:
1. Neglective style
Just by its name, you can tell that this is one of the worst ways to go about raising kids.
It is one where parents tend to be uninvolved in the child’s activities.
They listen to little of what their child has to say, don’t let their creative juices flow freely, suppress their opinions, and are overall just a passive bystander in their lives.
Doesn’t sound good, does it?
Sadly, this is a trap that many parents who work multiple jobs tend to fall into, mostly unintentionally, but not being present for most of their accomplishments or problems does not make the parent out as a good role model by any standard.
It will cause a load of problems in your child’s development cycle: from grades slipping in school and lack of self-esteem, to complete anti-social behavior.
This might sound rude, but if you did not have time for yourself before you had a child, you won’t have time for them once you do, although if you’re reading this, chances are high that you are already raising one.
As important as money is, make sure to devote some time to your child that so desperately looks to you to be their loving and attentive role model.
2. Permissive style
While this does sound good on the surface, this style of parenting has its own line of problems.
While yes, it does consist of more parental involvement in a child’s activities, in this case it tends to be too much – too focused on catering to child needs without controlling it with a dose of discipline.
It is an idulgent style in which parents generally allow children to do anything.
However, kids need some form of authority figure in their lives, someone to guide them and show them the basic principles.
If there is nobody to guide young children at home or show them what is wrong, they might pick up on a lot of bad habits purely from knowing that you will not do anything to discipline them.
This is usually the style of parenting that leads to children becoming spoiled or the ones you see usually throwing tantrums in public places because they consider themselves entitled to everything.
That is far from what effective parenting is.
You don’t want the kids to be in charge of your own household after all, do you?
3. Authoritarian style
This is where we go to the other extreme, where discipline becomes too harsh and is not balanced out by much empathy, if any.
A style in which the parent always aims to be right, where they demand absolute obedience.
This is usually adopted by parents with unfulfilled dreams of their own that end up trying to live them out vicariously through their kids with little regard to the child’s own wants and needs.
And any deviation from that path ends up in harsh discipline and punishments for the child, like spanking and the like, with little concern to the child’s well-being.
This is not a healthy way of going about raising your child.
While yes, some discipline is required when warranted, enforcing your ideals will not end up doing well on someone who clearly does not want to accept them, especially when considering their mental health.
Doing so will only make your kids resent you and either rebel against you or grow into someone who will be doing something they hate, without ever really knowing why or being brave enough to question it.
It’s not a life anyone’s kid should be living.
This route also tends to be the one most devoid of fun. And fun is an essential learning tool in child development, so please try to temper the discipline and your own desires.
Balance between yours and the child’s to reach a compromise that is beneficial to both of you.
4. Authoritative style
Not to be confused with the authoritarian style from before, this style of parenting is one that balances between the Permissive and Authoritarian, taking the positives from both and utilizing them in the best way, depending on the situation.
It is a style where the parent is responsive to their child’s needs and shows them the love they need to nurture their growth in a positive way, one that changes and adapts depending on the phase of life your child is in at the given time.
One where children can grow their social skills.
One where you act as their friend and authority figure at the same time, passing your wisdom on to them, rewarding good behavior with recognition to increase their sense of self-worth, and punishing misbehavior in a proper manner – explaining what exactly was bad instead of instantly raising their hand at them.
It is arguably one of the hardest styles to pull off efficiently, but if you can manage to walk the edge and balance it all out properly, it is sure to be the most positive parenting method.
15 Good Parenting Tips
1. Be someone they can look up to
I am not asking you to be a beacon of goodness, but do teach them some basic morals, help them keep an open mind and have a healthy approach toward anything new.
They will look at what you do in certain situations and mimic it, so if you intend to curse or take rash action, think twice before you do it; think if that is what you would want your child to replicate.
2. Show them love
By this, I do not mean smother them.
Some people say that you can never be too loving, but trust me, you can.
It’s called being overprotective, maybe even codependent. Let them know you care, but do not drown them in it and force them to rely on you.
You are only stifling their self-reliance by doing so.
3. Never practice physical punishment
That means to avoid spanking, beating, or any other form of harsh discipline.
This is extremely bad for the development of your child’s behavior and has an overly negative influence on their mental health, making them more prone to being bullies and resolving conflicts with fists as they grow, rather than through words and diplomacy.
That said, you should still punish your child when they do something wrong, but look for alternative methods like a time-out, grounding, or something of the sort.
4. Adapt your style of parenting as they grow up
Be a bit stricter when they’re younger, teach them basic principles, and make sure to use your parenting skills to help them learn how to think for themselves, while ensuring their well-being and encouraging their exploration of the world.
As time passes and they go over to middle school and beyond, start loosening that tight valve and grant them their independence, while still being there to mentor them on anything they still need to learn and will ask about.
Then they are sure to grow into people you can be proud of.
5. Being a picky eater is not bad
Every person develops a palette of tastes that they find agreeable for them to consume, and kids are no exception.
They will naturally suss out what they do and do not like; do not force them to eat it if they do not want to.
If you want them to eat healthy foods, do not keep the “bad stuff” readily available in your house nor use it as a reward for doing well.
Plus, it helps avoid awkward situations at the dinner table, for both you and your kids.
6. Make them do hard work
By this I do not mean coal mining, just chores and the like.
And make sure to show them that it pays off by rewarding them.
This is mostly to teach them how to be responsible adults and help them develop a positive attitude toward earning something rather than having it handed to them.
7. Don’t do their homework for them
While a bit more specific than others, you should not be the one doing what they were assigned to do in school by their teachers.
That’s on them and it is only a way for the teacher to know that they are trying outside of school.
You can assist them in it by clarifying something they don’t understand, but don’t just solve everything for them.
Instead let them challenge themselves and do it on their own.
This way, when they complete it or a similar task, they will feel more rewarded and feel a greater sense of accomplishment than if you had helped, which in turn helps to build your child’s self-esteem, problem-solving and decision-making skills, as well as encourage them to challenge themselves and improve further.
8. Be there for your child
If something isn’t going well, whether in school, on the playground or other aspects in life, make sure you are always there for them and let them know that.
Be a person they can confide in.
Especially in this modern day where pressure can come from anywhere.
9. Explain your rules and the reasons behind your actions
When your children do something bad, don’t punish them without giving them a reason why and explaining why what they did was bad.
They can’t know unless you tell them, and when doing so, make sure to use a reasonable tone.
10. Encourage physical activity
Especially at a young age.
Being physically active helps your child stay healthy despite the food that they eat, and helps reduce the risks of any awful health issues like diabetes and the like.
11. Consistency is key
When you set something as a rule, stick by it.
Don’t just do it the first time around then forget about it.
If you remain consistent, it will rub off on your kids and promote more positive behaviors in them.
12. Keep an open mind
Touching back on the subject of being there for your child, this means that you should not immediately condemn whatever your children confide in you.
Try and ask them about it; put yourself in their shoes and how it would make you feel; try and understand their point of view.
Especially with older children when the discussed topic can get a bit more complex.
13. Foster a relationship
You want your children to consider you their friend if you want them to trust you, treat you as such, or as any other relationship you have.
Maintain it, grow it. If you do not put effort in it, neither will they.
Treat them as your equal in some parts, and as their mentor in others.
Show them respect, listen to their thoughts and opinions, and give honest feedback when they need it.
14. Think back to when you were a kid
You haven’t been a parent your whole life.
As I will share later, use your own experiences from when you were a kid as a guideline on building your own way of parenting.
Let it be the primary source of parenting advice when building the foundations of trust between you and your younger members of the family.
15. Do not overwork yourself
One of the most important ones. Managing child behavior can be daunting.
So, while you do have to make some sacrifices for them, make sure to have some time for yourself and explain that to your child in a calm manner, and I am certain that they will take it positively.
Learning how to parent through self-reflection
When my first child was born, I was clueless on how to be a proper parent.
Well, almost clueless. I thought back to the way my parents raised me.
Initially I thought of how I should not punish my children the way I was, instantly leaning into a more Permissive style, which was not ideal.
Once I saw the mistake, I went back to it and realized that some of what they were doing was actually good, so I started adapting some of the Authoritarian style, until finding my own Authoritative way that worked for my child-rearing.
At least I think it did, but they will be the judges regarding that matter!
What I did when they were but infants who could barely walk or talk was be a bit more observant of their actions.
You can’t just have friends over and have the baby crawl around without any supervision; that’s insensitive.
What you do need to do is be more included in what they do, as the first people they look to for guidance and the first people they want to impress are their parents.
Pay attention to them, but not too much. Teach them what is right and what is wrong; they’re really impressionable at a young age.
Make sure you’re someone they can look up to, and that means even when you set rules for them.
Don’t just tell them about them, enforce them.
If they see you standing by the same rules, they’ll follow through as well and will have less trouble being responsible when they grow older and start being independent.
Once they grow up a bit, switch to a slightly more permissive way of being authoritative.
Still hold to the tenets that you have set when they were kids, but make sure to support any of their desires for growth, whether it’s wanting to take up drama, sports, writing, computers… anything really.
Try to ensure that they can explore all avenues so that they’ll have an easier time choosing what their future calling may be.
Until they start going to middle school, make sure to always know where they are and who they are with, this will help them stay safe when they are older.
Once they are of middle-school age, you can start letting them become their own person, as their drive for independence will start budding – a very natural thing.
When I was a child, my parents supported some things that I enjoyed, but they forced me to rush a lot of decisions that take time to establish themselves, which is why I wasted a few years taking majors I didn’t really enjoy.
That, and they were a bit too permissive, thinking that would patch things like that up.
They were rather old-fashioned and raised in such a manner, so I cannot fault them for that. They did realize it in later life, but it did leave a bit of a mark on me.
Besides, it wasn’t all bad, they taught me about self-reliance, self-control, and hard work, allowing me to grow into a fully functioning adult (through some intervention on my own part, but still).
Being a parent is hard, I know, I have been and still am there and raising kids is a big responsibility – one that you have decided to undertake.
It takes a while until it’s done, but boy does it ever pay off, and big.
I hope that my little article here has helped you better understand the ways of parenthood and develop a healthier, more positive parenting approach toward your own kids.
Now go and be the best role model and friend that you can be for your young ones.
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