Study: Effective Parenting Not “One Size Fits All”

With all of the parenting advice out there, it has become practically impossible to determine which method is “right.” Struggles with a child often motivate parents to look towards outside sources for parenting advice. But real hope, according to experts, may come from the family itself.

Researchers recently took a look at 214 mother and child pairs to evaluate the relationship between parenting styles and the overall temperament of the child. Warmth and hostility from the mother as well as the amount of autonomy given to the child were a particular area of interest for the study.

Results indicated that, when given less autonomy, the child was less likely to experience symptoms of depression or anxiety. Additionally, when the parenting style “fit” the child’s temperament, the child was less likely to have behavioral problems. They were also less likely to experience feelings of anxiety or depression.

“The results show that how much parents need to step in…..really does depend on the kid,” said co-author of the study Cara Kiff. Even in the same family, children may require a different parenting style.

So how do you determine which parenting style fits your child best? According to Liliana Lengua, University of Washington psychology professor and co-author of the study, the best approach might be to step back and really take a look at your child and their personality.

“Can they stop themselves from doing things on an impulse? Can they power through things they don’t want to do?” If you can’t answer yes to these questions, you may need to consider a more hands on approach to your parenting. On the other hand, if your child is able to display a great deal of self-control, then you may be able to have a more relaxed approach. You may also find that there are certain areas that you can be more relaxed and others that you need to be more authoritative with your child.

Researchers also stressed that the earlier you start to take control in the necessary areas with your child, the better. “Trying to control your kids starting when they’re 14 is much harder than getting a handle on it when they’re 4, 5, 6 or even earlier,” said Lengua. “The main take-home message…it’s not a one size fits all.”

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About the author


Kate Givans is a wife and a mother of five—four sons (one with autism) and a daughter. She’s an advocate for breastfeeding, women’s rights, against domestic violence, and equality for all. When not writing—be it creating her next romance novel or here on Growing Your Baby—Kate can be found discussing humanitarian issues, animal rights, eco-awareness, food, parenting, and her favorite books and shows on Twitter or Facebook. Laundry is the bane of her existence, but armed with a cup of coffee, she sometimes she gets it done.

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