The authoritative parenting style


The history of authoritative parenting

In the 1960’s, child psychologist  Diana Baumrind identified three styles of parenting when working with, and thoroughly engaging with pre-school aged children.  The authoritative parenting style was recognised by Baumrind as the democratic approach to parenting. Baumrind further noted that this style of parenting is child – centred, and offers a high level of emotional availability to the child.

Hence, why children raised by authoritative parents have strong self-regulation skills, are very self assured, and appear to be very happy.

Children with authoritative parents

  • are mostly happier
  • have good emotional control, and good emotional skills
  • Are self – confident in their own abilities

Why such good results?

Children with authoritative parents are given reasonable demands and high levels of responsiveness. These parents are emotionally available, and willing to put their all into providing their children with the resources to enable them to be well-equiped, successful individuals in both childhood and adulthood.

Main characteristics of the authoritative parenting style

Authoritative parents:

  • Listen to their child’s needs, opinions, thoughts and ideas
  • Encourage their child to problem solve, and to discuss an array of options
  • Encourage their child to become an independent being
  • Place limits, boundaries, and expectations on their child’s behaviour
  • Administer fair and consistent discipline

A moderate method of parenting

The authoritative parent is moderate in their approach to parenting. They are neither black nor white, this way or that way. Instead, they apply a middle of the road, middle – ground approach to parenting -whereas the authoritarian parenting style is too hard, and the permissive parenting style is too soft.

They allow for high standards, expect mature, co-operative behaviour, provide their child with a lot of nurture and responsiveness; as well as respect for the child as a seperate, independent human being with their own thoughts and beliefs.

Children brought up with authoritative parents are showered with love and warmth – as well as boundaries, consequences and consistency. Hence, why it is claimed that the authoritative parenting style is the most effective style of parenting for children.

Research suggests that having at least one authoritative parent can make a big difference. In fact, it is further claimed that children from authoritative households are less likely to experience episodes of depression, and anxiety related conditions. They are also more unlikely to exhibit anti – social traits including delinquency and drug use.

The differences between authoritative parenting, permissive parenting and authoritarian parenting

Authoritative parents allow for a lot of flexibility, are in tune with democracy, and will discuss the rules with their children, the reason for the rules, and the importance of consequences. They may even make changes to the rules if they see the need to in the future. Unlike authoritarian parents, authoritative parents do not shame their children.

Discipline is approached with empathy, emotional availability, and kindness. If the child has something to say, they are given the opportunity. When an authoritative parent disciplines their child they take into account all the finer details involved in the problem that took place.

The permissive parent rarely disciplines their child, gives them too much room to move, and allows their child to behave to extremes.

In contrast, the authoritarian parent over disciplines, oppresses the child’s right to say how they feel, or to ask questions, and applies little empathy to the discipline process.

The aim of the authoritative parent is to encourage their child to utilise reasoning, to look within, and to work independently.

Understanding why the authoritative parenting style works

The authoritative parent acts as a role model, and exhibits the same behaviour that they expect from their child. The consistent rules and discipline which follow allow the child to know what to expect from their parents.

The child eventually models back to the parent the good emotional understanding and control that they were taught by their parents.

Authoritative parents are not controlling. They allow their children to be independent beings. This teaches their children that they are completely capable of accomplishing their goals without their parents always looking over their shoulder. The trust that the authoritative parent has in their own children to manage on their own, helps to foster good self-esteem and self- confidence.

The effects of the authoritative parenting style

Child development experts generally identify the authoritative parenting style as the best approach to parenting. Children raised by authoritative parents tend to be more capable, happy and successful.

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