Discipline is one of the most important parts of parenting. As soon as your child can move, you must attempt to regulate his behaviour by providing guidance and discipline to protect him and also point him in the right direction.

In my research on discipline styles and the one that is most effective, I found out that children describe their parents as being either bossy, carefree, or influential. My discovery was supported by Diana Baumrind’s 1983 research. She extensively studied the discipline styles used by parents and divided them into three basic types. They include: authoritarian discipline style, permissive discipline style, and authoritative discipline style.

The authoritarian parent according to Baumrind gives strict rules to his children with little discussion of the reasons for the rules. It is the “because I say so” approach to rules. Authoritarian parents believe in keeping the child in his place. They attempt to shape, control, and evaluate the behavior and attitudes of their children with standards they’ve formed or that was formulated by a higher authority. They value obedience as a virtue, and resolve to punitive and forceful measures to curb self-will at points where the actions of their children are not in agreement with what they think is right. They are openly critical of their children and frequently give them instructions on how to behave.

In contrast,  the permissive parent gives the child few rules and rarely punish misbehaviour. The child is given great respect and autonomy but often too much independence at a very early age. Permissive parents often allow their children to regulate their own activities as much as possible, they avoid the exercise of control, and does not encourage the child to obey externally defined standards. They use reason and manipulation to influence the child but not overt power to accomplish their ends.

The authoritative parent on the other hand is an authority figure to the child but provides good explanations for all rules and freely discuss them with the child. For example, an authoritative parent would instruct his child not to go out at night and will go further to tell the child that a lot of bad and evil things are exhibited by bad people at night;  to prevent himself from being a victim, he must stay indoors. Authoritative parents direct the child’s activities but in a rational, issue-oriented manner.

Now, which of these approaches to discipline is most effective?

Research clearly indicates that children whose parents adopt an authoritative style are better behaved, more successful, and happier than the children of parents who use other styles of discipline, and their families are more harmonious. This is because their parents make demands that fit their ability and they learn to take responsibility for their own actions and decisions. They subsequently learn that they are competent individuals who can do things successfully for themselves. This fosters high self-esteem, cognitive development, and emotional maturity.

Often, allow your children to freely state their opinion about the rules you make, and sometimes be persuaded to alter the rule if their arguments are logical. Give your children a greater sense of involvement in the rule making process, reinforce appropriate behaviour and avoid corporal punishment as much as possible. Encourage independence, but within clearly defined boundaries and show your child that he is loved and respected and also provide the right amount of instructions that the child needs to grow optimally. Parents with temperamental and self-willed children must resist the natural tendency of making authoritarian responses to their children’s provocative behaviour if they want to help them to grow in the most desirable way.

A loving and effective parenting is the greatest gift that a parent can give to his child. It has a very important influence on children. Have a nice day.


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