How do you strike a balance between getting your children to listen to you and sharing their thoughts and feelings?
If parents are too lenient, children will be open to sharing but will walk over their parents. If parents are too strict, children will be obedient — but silent.
Dr. Shefali Tsabary, #1 NYT Bestselling Author, a clinical psychologist, and renowned international speaker, asked an interesting question:
DO YOU WANT ROBOTS AND PUPPETS, BUT YOU’LL HAVE SILENCE, OR DO YOU WANT LIFE AND CREATIVITY BUT YOU’LL HAVE CHAOS?
Where’s the sweet spot? How do you encourage your children to open up while still keeping hold of the reins?
Well, authoritative parenting is the solution.
What are the origins of authoritative parenting and why it is the sweet spot of parenting styles?
We’re going to explore what authoritative parenting is and how to best practice it in your daily life.
What Are The 4 Types Of Parenting Styles?
Authoritative parenting originates from Diana Baumrind, a psychologist who discovered three distinct parenting styles, known as the Baumrind parenting styles. Later, Maccoby and Martin added a fourth parenting style, neglectful parenting.
The four major parenting styles are:
- Authoritative parenting. Authoritative parents are highly responsive but also have high expectations. They have strict guidelines but are warm and loving.
- Authoritarian parenting. Authoritarian parents are less responsive but still maintain high expectations. They demand obedience and don’t allow their children to make many decisions.
- Permissive parenting. Permissive parents are highly responsive but don’t demand much of their children. They set low standards of behavior but are incredibly supportive of their children’s needs.
- Neglectful parenting. Uninvolved parents are not responsive to their children’s needs and do not set firm rules or guidelines. They believe in a hands-off attitude and take a backseat approach to their children’s development.
What Is The Authoritative Parenting Definition?
The authoritative parenting style is the middle point between permissive and authoritarian parenting. Authoritative parents have clear expectations for their children. Yet, they are warm and responsive to their children’s needs.
Although authoritative parents have clear boundaries, they listen to their children’s opinions and allow their children to make reasonable requests.
What is authoritarian parenting and authoritative parenting?
Both authoritarian and authoritative parents have clear rules. And while they both expect their children to follow the rules, the response to rule-breaking is what separates these two parenting styles.
Authoritarian parents punish. Authoritative parents use positive discipline.
Authoritarian parents expect their children to follow with blind obedience, which means that if their children question their authority, the get the age-old reply:
“Because I said so.”
On the other hand, authoritarian parents expect their children to follow their rules but aren’t afraid to discuss their reasoning. They’re happy to sit down and explain the logic behind each rule so that children understand why they’re being asked to do what they’re doing.
While authoritarian parents struggle to provide more warmth and empathy, authoritative parents are great listeners and are well-practiced at navigating their children’s emotions.
What Are The Characteristics Of Authoritative Parenting?
In a nutshell, authoritative parents use a blend of both authoritarian and permissive parenting styles to raise their children.
Here are the 9 characteristics that define an authoritative parent:
- Sets clear boundaries. Authoritative parents set clear limits, such as the do’s and don’ts in the house and in public spaces.
- Consistent with their rules and boundaries. Authoritative parents are consistent in their approach to the rules, even when they’re exhausted, angry or stressed.
- Explain the reasons behind rules. Authoritative parents know why they set each rule and aren’t afraid to explain their reasoning. And they make sure their children understand too.
- Employs positive discipline. Instead of using punitive punishments such as shaming, blaming and instilling fear, authoritative parents use natural consequences as a way to discipline their children. For example, a child oversleeps and no longer has time to watch their favorite TV show before school. This is a natural consequence of their actions.
- Warm and loving. Authoritative parents are involved in their children’s lives and consistently provide emotional support. They guide their children, act as a mentor, and show them the right way.
- Open-minded. Authoritative parents encourage their children to voice their opinions and are willing to alter the rules according to their child’s needs.
- Respect their children. Authoritative parents recognize their children as individuals with their own rights. They consider their children’s feelings first before taking any actions that will affect them.
- Encourage independence. They allow their children to explore the world and learn from mistakes. If necessary, they’ll step in to facilitate the learning process.
- Develop responsibility. Authoritative parents instill life lessons in each mistake through natural consequences. This helps their children understand how their behaviors affect themselves and others.
Is Authoritative Parenting Good?
Psychologists consider authoritative parenting as the most balanced parenting style available. In fact, authoritative parenting is a form of positive parenting.
Examples of positive parenting styles include:
- Authoritative parenting
- Conscious parenting
- Secure attachment parenting
- Peaceful parenting
Knowing that no one parenting style fits all families, it’s crucial to find what works for your family dynamic. If authoritative parenting doesn’t work, you can always explore other styles of positive parenting to find the best fit for you and your family.
What are the effects of authoritative parenting?
Being an authoritative parent will help your children become more independent, resourceful, and adaptable in any group or circumstance.
A study published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine in 1996 discovered that adolescents in authoritative families were less depressed compared to the children who came from authoritarian, permissive and neglectful families.
And research published in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology in 2004 showed that these adolescents had a high sense of morality, and were better at managing the negative behavior of others, including delinquency, vandalism, aggression, and bullying.
How Do You Practice Authoritative Parenting?
Now that we have a better grasp of authoritative parenting, let’s explore how to actually put it into practice.
Here are 5 authoritative parenting techniques you can practice in your everyday life:
1. Grow as a parent first
Parenting is not an instinctive role. Like how managers must learn how to become good managers, parents must learn how to become good parents — by learning helpful parenting mindsets and practicing mindful parenting skills. Growing yourself as a parent takes precedence.
If you’re seeking solid parenting resources, here are some books to get you started:
- The Conscious Parent: Transforming Ourselves, Empowering Our Children by Dr. Shefali
- How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish
- Out of Control: Why Disciplining Your Child Doesn’t Work and What Will by Dr. Shefali
- Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ by Daniel Goleman
2. Refine your parenting goal
The goal of your parenting journey is the anchor that keeps you on track. Whenever you feel overwhelmed by anger or frustration, the goal helps you regain control of your emotions.
Use these questions to refine your parenting goals:
- What kind of a role model do I want to be?
- What kind of relationship do I want to have with my children?
- How do I see the next 5 – 10 years of our family life unfolding?
- What kind of family do I want to create?
3. Recognize your child as individuals with their own rights
OUR CHILDREN ARE SOVEREIGN BEINGS — THEY ARE UNIQUE SOULS THAT ARE IN THE SHAPE OF YOUR CHILD’S BODY THAT COME THROUGH US
— DR SHEFALI TSABARY, AUTHOR OF MINDVALLEY’S CONSCIOUS PARENTING MASTERY PROGRAM
This huge mindset shift will change the way you interact with your child.
Most parents believe they have to control their children. However, when you recognize that your child is an individual with their own rights, you’ll start automatically considering their feelings before you take action.
As a result, your child will feel important and heard — which will boost their self-esteem.
A simple way to practice this new mindset is to ask your child how a potential change will affect them. Here are some questions to help guide your discussion:
- What do you feel about ________ (the change)?
- What makes you feel this way?
- Is there a way we can make it better for you?
- What would be nice to have in this change?
4. Use positive discipline
Positive discipline is a type of discipline that focuses on encouraging positive behavior and discouraging negative behavior.
It is based on the idea that there are no good or bad children, just good or bad behaviors.
When misbehaviors occur, they can be handled using the following 4-step process:
- Tell the children what they did.
- Explain the consequences of their actions.
- Suggest better ways to handle the situation.
- Follow up with praise of the corrected behavior.
For example, you see your child snatch a toy from a classmate. You step in to utilize the 4-step process:
- Jack, you’ve just taken that toy away from Michael.
- Because of what you did, Michael is crying
- We need to ask permission before we take a toy. If Michael isn’t done playing with it, you can wait for your turn and play with another toy.
- If Jack returns the toy to Michael and decides to play with something different, you compliment the behavior: “Jack, that’s very kind of you to patiently wait your turn with the toy.”
Through positive discipline, the child learns how to identify the ways in which their actions affect others. They subsequently identify which behaviors to replicate and which to avoid.
5. Coach their emotions
Emotion coaching is the understanding that every behavior is driven by an emotional source.
Dr. John M. Gottman, an American psychological researcher and clinician, urged parents to become emotion coaches for their children. This way, children can learn to regulate a myriad of emotions.
Dr. Gottman suggested 5 essential steps of emotion coaching.
- Be mindful of your child’s emotions.
- Honor your child’s expression of emotion as a perfect moment for intimacy and teaching.
- Listen with empathy and validate your child’s feelings.
- Help your child learn to label their emotions with words.
- Set limits when you are helping your child solve problems or deal with upsetting situations appropriately.
This week, when your child misbehaves or expresses negative emotions, try to figure out the underlying cause of their feelings.
Pro-tip: Ask “what” questions to find out their emotions. Don’t give answers or solutions immediately.
What does it mean to be a great parent?
Becoming a great parent is not only about raising confident, unique and independent children, but is also about becoming a more evolved individual. The road to great parenting takes a lot of trial and error, determination, and tons of patience.
But it is the journey that will transform you into a great parent, and great parents will raise great children.
Whether a parent or not, discover a radically new and empowering model of parenting in this FREE Masterclass by Dr. Shefali. Sign up for the Masterclass below:
What is your next action step to grow yourself as a parent? Share your ideas in the comments below.