Parenting Styles and Proven Tools for Dealing with Child Misbehavior
This is the first in a four part series on effective parenting skills. The text of this article has been condensed for the purposes of this blog.
How many times have you thought about how to become a more effective parent?
We think of parenting as being the most important job in the world, although there is no pressure in our society to prepare for this job, or strong motivation for training. We have the sense that parenting skills are out there somewhere among our natural abilities and will kick in when we need them. It’s this belief that can discourage parents from seeking training, resources, and support and leave them exhausted, frustrated, isolated, or apathetic. Don’t let your beliefs or self-talk discourage you from taking a curious look at your parenting equipment and its effectiveness. The goal is to identify a more effective belief that will assess the situation realistically, make our job easier, and help to get the job done.
The great thing is that parents have potential, and with the help of the right ingredients such as love, guidance, and boundaries, they can facilitate an environment that equips their children emotionally and behaviorally to be stable and successful individuals.
1. Understand what your parenting style communicates about you and what unmet needs you are still seeking to meet.
We seek to avoid the mistakes that our parents made raising us. We might have experienced strict, coercive, controlling, and demanding parenting and always heard the word “no” to everything. We might then lavish love and pampering that we never had on our child and avoid even uttering the word “no” because hearing it makes us shrink inside and re-experience rejection. We can also overdo things in the opposite direction by turning to strict rules and being overly protective. Parents want to protect their children from harsh consequences and pain. If we feel that our parents deprived us of the benefits of boundaries, rules, and parental guidance, we will probably have a tendency to overemphasize such boundaries with our children.
2. Understand parenting outcomes and caveats.
Raising children within a nurturing, always accommodating, boundary and rule absent, love-drenched environment tends to result in a self-defeating outcome for parents. This so-called permissive parenting approach is associated with intense negative emotions in children, poor self-control, constant social conflicts, self-destructive activities, or a struggle to achieve academically in school.
Approaching parenting too harshly and rigidly can push our children to look for comfort and self-soothing in substances, act out their suppressed frustration through problematic behaviors, or become so discouraged that they give up on themselves and life. They also tend to have fewer developed skills to monitor and control their behaviors as well as less advanced moral reasoning skills.
Overall, neither overly pampering/permissive, nor demanding/autocratic parenting styles work to facilitate a healthy and successful environment for child development, even if we do it with the best of intentions. Therefore, we should be more deliberate and conscious of why we do what we do and whether that contributes to a desirable outcome.
The school of life and learning as we go will teach many of us to wise up and change our ways. Still, prevention is always better than intervention, and earlier intervention is always more helpful than later or no intervention at all. Learning effective strategies and having more tools to parent will impact not just ours, and our children’s lives, but generations to come.
Dr. Ball works with adults of all ages, adolescents, children, families, and couples from diverse backgrounds and cultures, connecting with, and empowering them, to seek growth, meaning, and fulfillment in their lives.
Dr. Ball received her Doctoral Degree from Adler University in Chicago, Illinois where she obtained additional training in group psychotherapy.
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