Child Behavior: What's YOUR parenting style

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As parents, we agonize over how we parent, and wonder “Is there a ‘best way’ to do it? If we aren’t doing it “right,” are we restricting our children from reaching their optimum potential? Child development specialists have found that our parenting style—the general way of relating to, and responding to, our children’s behavior—can impact a child’s behavior and development.

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The four parenting styles 

Child development researchers have identified four distinct parenting styles: Authoritarian, Authoritative, Indulgent, and Indifferent. Each style of parenting behavior may produce very different responses from children.

Authoritarian Parents—This style would be best exemplified by the following parental statements: “because I said so” or “while you are under my roof you will do as I say.”

Authoritative Parents—A parent using this style might say “I would like to hear your thoughts on the matter,” or “let’s look at the pros and cons and make a decision together.”

Indulgent Parents—This parent style is best exemplified by statements like “Is that okay with you, honey?” or “If you don’t want to do that, it will be alright with me.”

Indifferent Parents—This style is a parent-centered style characterized by statements like, “I’m busy, I’ll watch you do that later” or “That’s nice, whatever you want.” 

Paul Schwartz, Ph.D., is a professor of psychology and education at Mount Saint Mary College.

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