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  • The Three Styles of Parenting

  • The Three Styles of Parenting

    by Jay Reeve, PhD
    Bradley Hospital psychologist

    Parents are sometimes troubled by the fear that they are parenting the wrong way, and that their style of parenting may have negative effects on their children. However, research has consistently shown that there is a broad range of acceptable parenting styles, from highly structured to permissive. One of the keys to finding the "right" parenting style may be the personality of the child who is being parented. An analysis of self-report questionnaires completed by parents and childcare professionals in the community helped us to identify three distinct styles of parenting and the kind of children who can benefit from them.

    • The Authoritarian Style
      Authoritarian parents tend to be highly structured in their approach to child rearing. Without ever being abusive, they set high, consistent standards of behavior for their children and tend to require obedience. They set clear goals for children and make decisions with little reference to the children's input. This style of parenting appears to work very effectively in the long run for children with behavioral or conduct disorders. These "wild kids" need clarity, structure and authority, even though they may complain about it in the short run. The authoritarian style tends to work less well with shy, withdrawn children, who may be fearful or anxious with this level of control.

    • The Balanced Style
      Balanced parents tend to maintain a pretty even tone in their approach to child rearing, neither particularly firm nor particularly lax. They tend to use considerable structure in decision making, but will often leave the decision up to the child. This style of parenting is very effective with middle-of-the-road kids, who benefit from a balanced, structured approach. In contrast, children at either end of the spectrum, whether shy or wild, may feel lost or out of control with the balanced style.

    • The Permissive Style
      Permissive parents tend to let their children make many decisions, without being neglectful or careless of the child. While there has been a lot of negative comment recently about permissive parenting, this is actually the ideal parenting style for shy, withdrawn children, who need lots of love and encouragement, without too much structure, in order to let themselves begin to form relationships. On the other hand, this parenting style does not work well for rebellious or aggressive children, who need firmer limits to rein in their impulsiveness.

    The important task in parenting appears to be matching your style to that of your child. This guide can help you recognize the style that can make things easier in dealing with your child.

    Source:This article was originally published in Rhode Island Family Guide.

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