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Kevin Lawrence

Understanding what type of parent you want to be so you can have the best relationship with your child.

Kevin Lawrence's blog on parenting styles

I’m a Healthy Relationships Social Worker from Flying Start. I support families every day, helping them to provide the best possible start for their children.

Sometimes, I find it useful to work with parents to help them understand what type of parenting style they have. Often, they will have different styles and this can cause disagreements. Have you ever stopped and thought about your parenting style? Pausing to think about the different parenting styles could help you to support your child’s development, behaviour, and wellbeing. Why is this useful? If you know what type of parenting style you tend to use, you can then make sure you’re consistent in your approach - this can help particularly when dealing with the trickier moments.

Understand your parenting style

It’s always important to understand your or your child’s behaviour first, then you can learn how and develop your approach.

There are four main styles of parenting – authoritarian, permissive, uninvolved and positive parenting (also known as authoritative). Whilst most parents have a style they naturally favour, it’s very common to move between four types depending on your circumstances and mood at the time.

Authoritarian

If you are an authoritarian parent, you probably take a stricter approach. You are telling, rather than asking your child what they should do and howthey should act. By following this style, you are ensuring that you are the one in charge reinforcing that your child should always do as you say. A good way of summarising this style of parenting is the phrase ‘do as I say, not as I do’.

Permissive

If you have a permissive style of parenting, you may often find that you succumb to your child’s demands being their friend above everything else. I find this style of parenting often comes to the fore when parents are busy and feel guilty that they can’t spend as much time with their child as they would like. If you’re a permissive parent, you may feel that you need to ‘make up for’ your busy schedule by giving in to your child’s demands.

Uninvolved

Uninvolved parenting describes an approach where you might be in the same room as your child, but you’re not really there perhaps you have a very busy job and find it difficult to ‘switch off’. The concept of multi-tasking may be resulting in a ‘disconnect’between you and your child.

Positive Parenting or Authoritative

If you have a positive style of parenting, you understand that you’re the one in charge but acknowledge that it’s important for you to listen and respond to your child’s individual needs. I would describe this style as leading by example and helping your child learn from experience.

Which one do you think you are?

In my experience, there are huge advantages of following the positive parenting style and here are a few tips you could use:

  • Make time for your family. Building and nurturing a connection with your child is so important. It’s not just about quantity but quality and ensuring that activities are valuable and meaningful.
  • Establish boundaries with your child. You’re a parent first, and a friend second. Setting boundaries isn’t about being strict, it’s about giving your child a feeling of structure and safety. When boundaries are in place, children will naturally feel safer.
  • Recognise good behaviour. Praise is great for your child’s self-esteem. Telling them what they’ve done right is as important as telling them what they’ve done wrong. Positive parenting is all about helping your child learn through their own experiences whilst creating an environment where the child knows that there will be consequences if they behave badly.
  • Give your child choices. Giving your child choices on the decision-making process will help them to feel involved and more in control –even when you’re the one in charge. For example: instead of telling your child to, ‘Put your shoes on now or we’re going to be late!’,‘Do you want to put your shoes on now, so we can get to school on time?’
  • Don’t forget about your wellbeing. As parents, we’re often guilty of putting ourselves last. But if we’re feeling tired and anxious, we’re essentially running on empty and this could result in us having a shorter fuse than normal. By carving out some quiet time for yourself, and investing in your own wellbeing, you’ll feel more able to deal with tricky situations in a calm and positive way.

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