Successful Parenting Approaches:

Parenting approaches fall into 3 main groups.

An authoritative or punitive approach is firm but not respectful of the child. It punishes without teaching better behavior. This approach is the classic “spare the rod, spoil the child”. Parents often use this approach because it is familiar and easy. Parents say do this and the child, being a dependent being, should do it. But humans are not made to do exactly what they are told. The best, most compliant child will only do what they are told to do about 75% of the time. When the child doesn’t do exactly as told, the parents have no “Plan B” except punishment that rarely results in sustained good behavior. How many times have you seen a parent repeatedly slap a child’s hands or roughly see them put a child in a chair and say, “Sit there”? Sitting quietly (without something to do) for more than a few minutes doesn’t work well with children or adults (without their smart phone). An “aggressive researcher” will rarely do what they are told to do without researching other options.

A permissive approach is respectful of the child but not firm. These parents make suggestions on behavior but have no way to enforce their requests if the child doesn’t agree. These parents tend to whine to their children when their children don’t take their suggestions.

A thoughtful approach is respectful and firm. The parent helps the child think about the consequences of the child’s behavior and then follows through with the consequences. These parents understand that their children are human beings with their own understanding of their needs and their goals. But the parents also know that some things are not negotiable and when they make a specific request they have a plan of action for the child to do that request. My grandson understands that he must wear his helmet to ride his bike. If he doesn’t wear his helmet, he will not have his bike for a specified period of time.

I’ve often said that parenting is a thinking game. When you ask your child to do something, whether they are toddlers or teenagers, you need to think about how they will process it, how their temperament predisposes them to react to the request, and what your actions will be if they don’t do it. Planning is everything.

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