Unlimited research has linked various parenting styles to the social and emotional development of children. Parents now have much more information available to help them navigate through the tough job of raising a child. The main goal of every parent is to raise a healthy and emotionally well-balanced individual. It’s safe to say that being a successful parent is no small feat. At the end of the day, you’re entirely responsible for another human being and how they grow up to be. Research suggests parenting styles and adolescent life experiences are some of the most important factors that shape an individual’s cognitive and emotional abilities as an adult and that some parenting styles and practices are more successful than others.
What are some of the most well-known parenting styles?
In 1960, clinical psychologist Diana Baumrind theorized that there is a close relationship between parenting styles and children’s behaviours. She observed preschool children and concluded that distinct behavioural differences between the children highly correlated to a specific kind of parenting style. Based on this theory, Baumrind came up with basic parenting styles, which were later expanded upon by Eleanor Maccoby and John Martin (1983).These four basic parenting styles are Authoritarian, Permissive, Authoritative and Uninvolved styles of parenting.
What are these parenting styles based on, and what do they consist of?
According to Maccoby and Martin, the four parenting styles are based on two parental dimensions:
- Parental warmth: this is related to parental affection towards and acceptance of the child.
- Parental control: this is related to the active role parents play in promoting discipline, respect for rules and social convention.
The Four Styles Of Parenting:
This style consists of low levels of warmth with high levels of control and a strict disciplinarian style.
This style has high levels of warmth and low levels of control. Using this style, the parent acts more like a friend than a parent. There is little discipline, few rules, little to no expectations, and minimal guidance or direction.
The authoritative parent displays both high levels of warmth and high levels of control. Parents in this category are reasonable and nurturing. They set high expectations and employ disciplinary rules clearly. They also engage in frequent communication with their children.
The uninvolved parent combines low levels of warmth and low levels of control and does not utilize any particular discipline style.
What are the effects on children of these parenting styles?
Children whose parents adopt an authoritative approach to parenting have higher self-esteem and are more assertive. Emotionally, they are able to trust their feelings and can regulate self-control well. They are also socially responsible and get along well with their peers, are empathetic and less likely to be influenced by peer pressure. Academically such children are confident, learn well and are more likely to become high achievers.
Children with parents who adopt a permissive style of parenting are usually impulsive, less responsible, self-confident and have high self-esteem. Emotionally they are irregular in their ability to trust their feelings. However, they are capable of voicing them. Socially such children have trouble keeping friends and show low interest in school.
Children whose parents practice an authoritarian parenting style have low self-esteem, emotionally they are quite a week and don’t trust their own feelings. Such children have poor social skills and don’t get along well with their peers. Academically such children find it hard to concentrate at school and tend to be average students.
Children with uninvolved parents exhibit low self-esteem, low self-confidence and harbour hatred towards themselves and others. Such children tend to hide or avoid their feelings and socially are withdrawn, distrustful and disrespectful. They also tend to perform quite poorly at school.
Which of these parenting styles is the best to adopt?
Some psychologists believe that the authoritative parenting style is the most successful approach. This is because it involves high acceptance and high involvement. This style also uses control techniques while giving an appropriate amount of autonomy to children as well.
Parents who adopt an authoritarian parenting style spend ample quality time with their children and are more cognizant of their behavior as well. Such parents balance love and warmth with discipline effectively and hence have children that grow up to be well balanced, independent, productive members of society. For this reason, the authoritative parenting style is the best way to raise a child.
How does spending quality time with children translate into their development?
The Effective Provision of Preschool Education (EPPE) project, a landmark UK-based longitudinal study of the effectiveness of preschool provision, demonstrated that parental involvement in activities such as teaching songs, reading, teaching the alphabet, playing with letters and numbers, drawing and painting, is highly prognostic of children’s cognitive attainment and socioemotional adjustment and progress. In contrast, a poor parenting style, often characterized by low levels of parental supervision and involvement, and punitive, inconsistent discipline often leads to poor child outcomes.
In short, quality time spent with children doing activities that would help them grow, learn, and which also include an element of parent-child bonding, would generally lead to the better social and emotional development of the child.
Parental behaviors and parental styles directly influence the self-image, social, emotional and academic growth of children. It is, therefore, imperative for parents to be honest and reflective of their parenting styles and transform them into behaviors that would help the child flourish. Adopting authoritative parenting styles where parents are mindful of the child’s needs as well encourages a happy, healthy, well-rounded childhood and a stable, productive future for the child.