Every person has a parenting style that is influenced partly by their personality and partly by the parenting (or lack of parenting) they experienced. Most people either decide to parent the way they were parented or to adapt the exact opposite. Their frame of reference is from what they have experienced and neither styles are necessarily correct.
People will attend courses for many aspects in life they want to perfect, but seem to expect parenting to come naturally.
Here are the 5 parenting styles necessary to survive parenthood:
From birth, children need a nurturing parent. This is vital for their development and for a sense of belonging. Babies need to develop trust in the first year of their lives. All their needs must be met; hunger, pain, discomfort, being comforted and being showered with love and attention. They need an excessive amount of eye contact and one on one attention especially in the first 18 months.
This type of parent loves to cuddle, protect and indulge the child; meeting all his needs and giving in to all their protests.
The Sergeant Major
However, all too soon these needs change. The willfulness and tantrums rear their ugly heads and mom and dad need to exercise some control. Under 6-year olds need a firmer approach. Parents need to establish their authority, have firm predictable boundaries in place.
- A young child feels safe in this environment.
- If you give a child too much freedom, he will hurt himself. They should be protected from harm, kept safe, encouraged to grow and be healthy.
- Too little freedom causes rebellion and does not encourage risk taking. However with an under 6 year old, this type of parenting style is more relevant than at any other time of his life as he does not have the wisdom or experience to make wise decisions. Once he submits to these firm rules, he learns to eventually adopt these as internalised values and eventually will be able to apply this to his own internalised boundaries.
- This is the stage where a child learns to submit to authority, accept boundaries and the consequences that go with them. You are the first government your child has to submit to. After you it is the teachers, then the employer and finally the government. Somewhere someone will make him submit. Your home is the loving environment that can teach him to have a healthy respect for authority
- This style is similar to being a manager. Using a teaching approach, the parent oversees day-to-day activities and “manages” them. He would help the child to embrace his problem as his own; to set and reach goals. He would model self-discipline and teach life skills.
- At this stage a child should not be bailed out of trouble, but should rather suffer the consequences of his choices age appropriately. This applies, generally speaking, to the 6-12 year olds.
- The boundaries are a bit wider than in the Sergeant Major stage, allowing more freedom of choice and more responsibilities where appropriate.
- Age appropriate independence is encouraged and natural consequences are used more than time outs. Internal boundaries are starting to increase.
- At this stage they want to know that they are competent and strong. They do not like disappointing people and constantly need reassurance.
- Through the teenage years, children need the help of a coach to obtain resources for projects, sport, homework etc. However, if you keep giving to a child without enforcing boundaries, he can feel entitled to receive without making an effort for himself.
- If the boundaries are too tight they give up and don’t receive the benefits of having had tight boundaries in the younger years.
- The boundaries should at this stage be broadening as respect is shown for others’ boundaries as well as a portrayal of responsible behavior. Children start learning that they can take ownership of and face situations that they are able to change.
- The coach’s position is to pose questions to help the child figure out the answers that are already inside him.
Tom Landry once said, “A coach makes people do things they don’t want to do so they can get to a place where they do want to be.”
Parents must do the same for their children.
When children leave home, it is FINALLY the time for a new relationship called friendship. Before this you could be friendly and have fun, but you cannot discipline your friend. They needed a parent not a friend up until now.
- If a young adult decides to stay in your home and not move out, then new clear boundaries need to be defined.
- There is no right or wrong parenting style. The key is to shift your natural style towards the appropriate style your child needs at that stage or moment. At varying times it will be easier for one parent than the other, but hang in there, your easy time will come. If you are naturally a Sergeant Major, help your soft spouse, but remember in teenage years, you will be the one needing support to become the Coach!
It is not your job to make your child happy but rather to teach them to make wise choices.