This is the question every parent asks. It has taken several decades of research to come up with the answer, because there were so many different variables to study. But we finally have a good answer- and it’s a short one.
Here it is: Stay Sensitive and Take Charge
- STAY SENSITIVE means being basically warm, empathic, understanding, comforting, supportive and positive toward your child; while trying to avoid too much harshness, authoritarian control and negativity toward them.
- TAKE CHARGE means to be able to set and follow through on age appropriate limits and boundaries and teach self-regulation and adaptive coping mechanisms in a constructive, and age appropriate way.
On the negative side, research also identifies the factors in how parents interact with their child that get in the way and impede positive development.
- When a parent is: neglectful, too dismissive, too authoritarian, too aggressive; too harsh, too punitive or too intrusive
- When a parent is unable to sufficiently set appropriate limits and boundaries and does not help the child learn self-control and adaptive coping mechanisms.
STAY ON THE GROWTH PROMOTING SIDE OF PARENTING and less on the impeding side. Of course there is no exact recipe for how to parent and there is no magic bullet that will ensure a good outcome. But the research is loud and clear!
Children do better in the long run, meaning for their whole life time, when their parents are more sensitive toward them and more positive about them! Kids also tend to do better when their parents feel powerful and confident enough to establish and enforce a reasonable degree of limits and to teach their child the skills of self-regulation and adaptive coping.
Try your best. No parent accomplishes it all the time. And the research says you don’t have to. It just says keep more to the positive than the negative side.
How does this fit in with the current theory about not giving too much praise? It fits in great! Remember its a balance. Be positive about your child, but also make sure you teach your child how to be resilient; how to bounce back after disappointment and how to persevere in the face of frustration and discouragement.
Now Stay Calm and Carry On!