Authoritative parenting: helping or hurting?
Relationships between parents and children change with age. Kids go through periods of independence, oppositional behavior, confidence, uncertainty, agreement and resistance. Parents will often respond with demanding a behavior or dominating the child (and, let’s be honest, some use bribery). All kidding aside, authoritative parenting is common. But, does it help?
Do it right – make it help
Remain consistent in word and action. This does two things: 1) it shows that your words are truthful, and 2) it builds trust because your kids will know what you say will be. Children appreciate knowing what to expect. They will learn that when you speak, you mean business. As well, model behaviors and lifestyles that you want your child to live out: if volunteering at a community event is important to you, be sure to include your kids in these events. Teach them to contribute to society through words and actions.
Listen. The number one skill of parenting is not always in what you say; it’s in what you hear. Commanding action from your child is accepted more easily when communication is open and respect is given, regardless of age. Do not expect kids to immediately give respect. It’s a trait that is earned consistently over time.
Be specific. Clarity in words and direction wards off misunderstandings and prevents arguments. Think beyond clarity in words. Remain specific in beliefs, core values, expectations and actions. If you expect your kids to eat vegetables at every meal, model the same behavior. Outline house rules and consequences. Children and teens, regardless of age, need boundaries, and expect them.
Do it wrong – and it will hurt
Don’t lecture. Use too many words and you’ve already lost your audience. Despite how frustrated we all can get, ranting and rambling on one topic just causes boredom. Keep kids engaged so when you talk, they will listen rather than tune you out.
Don’t overlook behaviors. The longer you overlook a negative behavior, the harder it will be to change. Simple things such as tone of voice should be addressed from little on. When a child whines, try stating, “Please say that over in a calm manner.” And then wait for it to happen. This requires patience – a lot of patience. Be sure your child knows your expectations going into each situation. This many be daily reminders of what you expect from them or a quick conversation before walking in the door. Set the expectations, outline the consequences, and follow through on behaviors. Praise the great days and address the bad days. Also make sure your child knows where you stand on all topics.
Remember change doesn’t happen overnight. Behaviors and habits develop over time – in many cases, years. If you have just started addressing behavioral issues in the teen years, hang in there. Take each situation day by day. Have a plan and hold children (and yourself) accountable. Just remember the consistency. Regaining authority after it has been lost is an uphill battle, but it is by far one of the most worthwhile victories.
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