The previous article explored the different styles of parenting. Essentially there are four different styles of parenting – authoritarian, authoritative, permissive and uninvolved.

Authoritarian: Rules are strict and failure to follow results in punishment. The reasons for rules are not explained and there is no room for negotiation.

Permissive: There are few rules and the parent is lenient and avoids confrontation. The parent takes on the status of a friend rather than a parent.

Uninvolved: Here, parents fulfil their children’s basic needs but are detached, talk very less to their children and neglect the child.

Authoritative: Parents establish clear rules and guidelines and explain the rationale; children have freedom to explore within the established limits. Parents are willing to listen and negotiate and the child is encouraged to be assertive and responsible for his/ her behaviour.

Changing your style
How can parents change their parenting style? The first step is to recognise which style you use most often. Both parents (and all care givers) need to have a consistent approach for maximum effectiveness (different views on parenting can be a source of friction within the marriage too). A discussion between all the care givers to commit to change is the second step.

Agree to change your reactions and responses to common situations and scenarios at home. Do not be afraid to say no. But follow it through with explanations, choices and allow the child to express his / her opinions without fear or criticism.

This can be reinforced in schools by the way teachers and staff handle children. Schools can reinforce good behaviour by following the authoritative style of interaction in the classroom. Regular discussion of classroom rules in a democratic setting where children contribute to what they believe are the rules / code of conduct is necessary. Once the rules are agreed, the students are collectively responsible for following them and have consequences for breaking them.

Identify your parenting style: please use the simple questionnaire below to find your parenting style.
Authoritative:
I give my child choices within limits
I take my child’s wishes into consideration before I ask him/her to do something
I explain to my child how I feel about his/her behaviour
I encourage my child to speak his / her mind freely
I provide comfort and understanding when my child is upset

Authoritarian:
I explode in anger towards my child
I yell when I disapprove of my child’s behaviour
I use criticism to make my child change his/her behaviour
I use threats as a form of punishment with little justification
When my child questions me, I tell him/her it is because I said so

Permissive:
I find it difficult to discipline my child
I give in when he/she throws a tantrum
I do not address my child’s bad behaviour
I feel I need to fulfil every demand of my child
I try to protect my child from all disappointments

Authoritarian and Permissive are opposite side of the spectrum. Authoritative is the ideal middle ground and leads to a secure, responsible and successful child. So the next time you worry about your child’s schooling, diet, friends, etc., think about your style of parenting and the impact it has.