Do You Know Your Parenting Style?
By Dr. Thomas Phelan
Want to be a better parent? Knowing what your current parenting
style is will help you identify your needed areas for improvement.
Promoting the self-discipline and self-esteem of the children in
your family often requires an emotional juggling act by you as a
parent. It is not easy to be firm and demanding with a child one
minute, then warm and affectionate the next. This is an ongoing
education process both for the parent and for the child. In
addition, many adults naturally have personalities or temperaments
that predispose them toward one parenting style or another.
Parents who tend to overemphasize the discipline side of the
equation are referred to as authoritarian. Authoritarian parents are
demanding in the worst sense of the word. They are intimidators,
requiring obedience and respect above all else. They become overly
angry and forceful when they don't get that obedience and respect.
Their love and acceptance appear totally conditional to the child.
They do not teach or listen to their kids or explain the reason for
their expectations, which are frequently unrealistic. They often see
their children's individuality and independence as irrelevant or
Research has shown that authoritarian parents tend to produce
children who are more withdrawn, anxious, mistrustful and
discontented. These children are often overlooked by their peers.
Their self-esteem is often poor.
Parents who overemphasize the self-esteem side of the equation
are referred to as permissive. They may be warm and supportive, but
they are not good disciplinarians - even in the privacy of their own
home. They make only weak demands for good behavior and they tend to
avoid or ignore obnoxious behavior. They seem to believe that
children should grow up without any anger, tears or frustrations.
They reinforce demanding and inconsiderate behavior from their
children and often find it easier to just give in to their child's
demands. Their love and acceptance are "unconditional" in the worst
sense of the word, for they set few rules or limits on what their
Research has shown that permissive parents tend to produce
children who are more immature, demanding and dependent. These
children are often rejected by their peers. Their self-esteem is
often unrealistic and hard to interpret, for they often blame others
for their problems and misfortunes.
The Authoritative Parenting Model
Parents who are able to provide for both the discipline and
self-esteem needs of their youngsters are referred to as
authoritative. They clearly communicate high - but not unrealistic -
demands for their children's behavior. They expect good things from
their kids and reinforce those things when they occur. They also
tend to give more positive encouragement at the right places. When
kids act up, on the other hand, authoritative parents respond with
firm limits, but without fits of temper. They are warm, reasonable
and sensitive to a child's needs. They are supportive of a child's
individuality and encourage growing independence.
Authoritative parents tend to produce competent children. These
kids are more self-reliant, self-controlled, content and happy. They
are usually accepted and well-liked by their peers and perform
better in school. Their self-esteem is good and they report having a
happier childhood experience overall.
Where Do You Need Work as a Parent?
Logic and research, then, support the idea that children need
both firm discipline and emotional support to grow up
psychologically healthy. After reading the descriptions of the
parenting styles above, if you found that you leaned too much toward
the demanding, authoritarian style, then you need to work on the
warm, supportive side of parenting. You need to have more fun with
your kids, listen better and dole out more praise. If on the other
hand, you leaned too much toward the permissive style, you need to
work on establishing clear rules, setting limits, and confronting
obnoxious behavior. Need to modify your parenting style? Start
1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2-12
By Dr. Thomas Phelan
This revised edition of the award-winning 1-2-3 Magic
program addresses the difficult task of child discipline
with humor, keen insight, and proven experience. The
technique offers a foolproof method of disciplining children
ages two through 12 without arguing, yelling, or spanking.
By means of three easy-to-follow steps, parents learn to
manage troublesome behavior, encourage good behavior, and
strengthen the parent-child relationship - avoiding the
"Talk-Persuade-Argue-Yell-Hit" syndrome which frustrates so
many parents. Ten strategies for building a child's
self-esteem and the six types of testing and manipulation a
parent can expect from the child are discussed, as well as
tips on how to prevent homework arguments, make mealtimes
more enjoyable, conduct effective family meetings, and
encourage children to start doing their household chores.
New advice about kids and technology and new illustrations
bring this essential parenting companion completely
Dr. Thomas Phelan is the best selling author of the
1-2-3 Magic parenting program, available in books, videos and DVD at
http://www.ParentMagic.com. A registered clinical psychologist
and an internationally renowned expert on child discipline and
Attention Deficit Disorder, Dr. Phelan's books also include
1-2-3 Magic for Teachers,
Surviving Your Adolescents and All About Attention Deficit Disorder.