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Raising Happier and Healthier Child: What is the Best Parenting Style?

Written by: Louis Budiman, Grants Researcher Intern Project Child Indonesia

Family is a fundamental and primary agent of socialization for every human being to grow. Creating a happy, healthy, and safe family environment for children requires a proactive role by parents. To achieve this, good parenting is essential and the very basic aspect that shapes not only child behaviour, but also their likelihood to be a responsible and successful adult in the future. Every parent surely loves and cares for their own kids, but we might want to wonder and ask: what is the best parenting style?

Most researchers and experts agree that there are four major parenting styles (Morin, 2019): authoritarian (focus on obedience and punishment over discipline); authoritative (create positive relationship and enforce rules); permissive (do not enforce rules; ‘kids will be kids’); uninvolved (provide little guidance, nurturing, or attention). In fact, most parents do not necessarily fit solely into one of the categories as they often adopt combined approaches (Lloyd, 2016). This is because every parent and the child have different characteristics and family background, which makes generalization a little bit tricky. Nevertheless, most studies as well as parents agree that authoritative parenting style is the most common way to raise happier and healthier children (Morin, 2020). Such a parenting approach can also mitigate negative consequences that other parenting styles often create. Moreover, the truth is that everyone can be a more authoritative parent. 

There are some starting points for parents to be more authoritative in parenting. First, parents should be aware of their child’s emotions and feelings. This is crucial particularly when children cry or get angry. Telling them to stop crying might be the reaction by most parents, but it is also important for parents to acknowledge what their child is really going through as it might be a big deal to them. To do so, parents can start by considering their child’s feelings, validating their child’s emotions, and being a good listener. This can help parents to provide positive attention and prevent behavioural problems. 

Enforcing rules is also essential in raising children to be responsible. Permissive or uninvolved parents tend to put a little effort on this aspect, while authoritarian parents can be too intense in establishing rules and too excessive in giving warnings. Authoritative parents often set clear rules and explain the reasons behind them to their child – and this could be an ideal way to not only enforce the rules but also to help children understand and expect consequences by following or not following the rules. When children make mistakes, parents must avoid shaming, guilt-tripping, and imposing corporal/physical punishments to their child. Instead, give children consequences that teach life lessons and learning opportunities. This is necessary to maintain child’s anger management, conflict resolution skills, and sense of responsibility. In addition, incentives or rewards could also help and motivate children in getting used to good behaviours. 

Last but not least, parents shall build a positive and healthy relationship with their child. Instead of aiming to control children, it is better for parents to encourage their child’s self-discipline. Parents need to be a good role model and give enough quality time to preserve their child’s mental health. Being a more authoritative parent needs compassion, affection, and patience – and these are the keys to raise a happier and healthier child.

References

Lloyd, C. (2016). What’s your parenting style?. Retrieved from https://www.greatschools.org/gk/articles/types-of-parenting-styles/#:~:text=Studies%20have%20identified%20four%20major,academically%20strong%20and%20emotionally%20stable

Morin, A. (2019). 4 Types of Parenting Styles and Their Effects on Kids. Retrieved from https://www.verywellfamily.com/types-of-parenting-styles-1095045.

Morin, A. (2020). 12 Ways to Become a More Authoritative Parent. Retrieved from https://www.verywellfamily.com/ways-to-become-a-more-authoritative-parent-4136329.

Thompson, H. (2018). What’s the ‘best’ parenting style to raise a successful child?.  Retrieved from https://www.mother.ly/child/whats-the-best-parenting-style-to-raise-a-successful-child.