You just celebrated your child’s second birthday and your precious baby has morphed into a demanding, and at times, contrary toddler complete with temper tantrums. You wish the hospital had issued you an instruction manual for the toddler years and beyond. What’s the right approach? Is it best to be more laid back in your discipline style, or is it better to be firmly at the helm?
Parenting Is Complex
Parenting is a complex business, and there are no easy answers. Each developmental stage brings with it a myriad of challenges and decisions. Often, the way you were parented influences your own parenting style. If you were raised by a strict or a permissive parent, you may have unpleasant memories of the experience and think the opposite parenting style is preferable, but think again. Parenting researchers have found that both of these extreme styles have negative implications for children.
The Impact of Authoritarian Parenting
The authoritarian, or strict, parent is highly demanding and expects immediate compliance to her directives. Her word is law, and there is no discussion or flexibility. Authoritarian parents use harsh punishments and force if a child disobeys their orders. Typically, a child of strict parents will do well in school and in situations where authority figures direct activity. This outer compliance comes at a high emotional price. These children feel anxious and have difficulty knowing what they like and making decisions, never having been given opportunities for self-expression. They don't feel valued and suffer from feelings of low self-worth.
The Impact of Permissive Parenting
With permissive parenting, a parent imposes few, if any, limits and boundaries. The impact of this style is also damaging. A child will be out of control and have difficulties with authority figures. Often, a person who utilizes this parenting style had a strict upbringing and is afraid of losing her child's love by imposing discipline and guidance. Ironically, it's the child who feels unloved and insecure. After all, he can behave like a wild banshee and his parents don't care enough about him to teach him limits. Don't let that be you!
A Better Way: Authoritative Parenting
Authoritative, or moderate, parents set limits and allow children to learn from the natural consequences of their actions. They listen to their children's feelings and explain why their rules are important and must be followed. They are kind, warm and nurturing, yet in control. They have high standards and encourage their child to express himself. A child raised in this environment will thrive. He will have the characteristics that bring joy to his parents and help him succeed in life -- maturity, self-control, self-reliance, friendliness, goal orientation and independence.