Written by: Cally Worden
As if dealing with naughty kids wasn’t enough, many parents find themselves drawing grown-up battle lines when it comes to discipline. This generally stems from conflicting styles of parenting and, if not managed, can play havoc with the consistency required to make discipline effective. What to do?
Different Parenting Styles
An Authoritarian parent takes an adult-centred control approach, laying down rules and expecting them to be followed. The Indulgent parent focuses more on the child, steering away from being too prescriptive and adopting a more open and negotiable stance. Wherever you and your partner sit on this spectrum, chances are you are in a degree of conflict from time to time.
The Authoritative Approach
One school of thought suggests that the middle ground between these two disparate parenting styles is the Authoritative approach. Naturally for a compromise position it adopts elements of both parenting styles, being firm but fair, and offering opportunities for the children to air their feelings and points of view within structured limits. Sounds reasonable, but how to get there?
What the Authoritarian Parent can do
The adult-centred Authoritarian needs to work on becoming more child-centred. This can be achieved in part by taking the time to research a little about child development and the needs and abilities of kids at different ages. From here, the Authoritarian parent is better equipped to listen to their child and understand the importance of inviting their input into family life and decisions. It can also help for the Authoritarian parent to spend more time simply playing with their kids, for fun, but also as a means to entering their child’s world and being able to see their point of view more easily.
What the Indulgent Parent can do
A move towards Authoritativeness by the Indulgent parent, involves them becoming more demanding of their child. Learning to say ‘No’ more effectively and more often will help the Indulgent parent to set more consistent and effective limits to aid discipline. Indulgent parents can help themselves by reading up on various discipline strategies, and using these more regularly to address bad behaviour. Indulgent parents often give in too easily to their kids, and this can lead to their children lacking in respect for authority. By being prepared to set and remain firm on limits and consequences, the Indulgent parent can learn how to help their child to develop a greater awareness of others in their interactions.
Don’t Give Up on your Beliefs
Modifying your style of discipline does not mean you have to give up on the belief system that drives your parenting style. It’s more about being open to different ways of doing things, and learning from each other. Family history, adult knowledge, and life experiences all combine to create a parenting style, and the method of discipline that is adopted by parents.
No two adult histories are the same, so it’s unlikely you and your partner will always, if ever, be completely on the same page. Finding a happy medium that works for you both will require change from both sides, but with persistence and flexibility it is possible to find a method of disciplining your kids that broadly works for you both. More important, is that your kids see a general agreement about the way in which their misdemeanours are handled. This will make them feel secure and loved, and ultimately help them grow into well-rounded adults with a good sense of right and wrong.