Assessing your Parenting Style

Happy family lying down on floor having fun

There probably is no such thing as a perfect parent but rather that parenting depends on the positive impact it has on the child and his development as a whole. So, I thought this should be interesting and fun to do, to explore the parenting style you use.

In my study of Parenting Styles Affecting the Behaviour of Five-Year Olds: parenting style is the way in which parents raise their children(2008:52).

For the purpose of this article, only the following three parenting styles will be discussed: Permissive/Dismissing Parent, Authoritarian/Disapproving Parent, Authoritative Parent/Emotion Coach. It will be linked to J Gottman’s (1997:43-48) questionnaire on parenting styles where he is more focused on the emotional intelligence of the child. The effects of the child on an emotional level leads to the child’s social and behavioural development, therefore the development as a whole.

This self-test asks questions about your feelings regarding sadness, fear, and anger- both in yourself and in your children. For each item, please circle the choice that best fits how you feel. If you’re not sure, go with the answer that seems the closest.

T= True F=False

1. Children really have very little to be sad about.

True    False

2. I think that anger is okay as long as it’s under control.

True    False

3. Children acting sad are usually just trying to get adults to feel sorry for them.

True    False

4. A child’s anger deserves a time-out.

True    False

5. When my child is acting sad, he turns into a real brat.

True    False

6. When my child is sad, I am expected to fix the world and make it perfect.

True    False

7. I really have no time for sadness in my own life.

True    False

8. Anger is a dangerous state.

True    False

9. If you ignore a child’s sadness it tends to go away and take care of itself.

True    False

10. Anger usually means aggression.

True    False

11. Children often act sad to get their way.

True    False

12. I think sadness is okay as long as it’s under control.

True    False

13. Sadness is something one has to get over, to ride out, not to dwell on.

True    False

14. I don’t mind dealing with a child’s sadness, so long as it doesn’t last too long.

True    False

15. I prefer a happy child to a child who is overly emotional.

True    False

16. When my child is sad, it’s a time to problem-solve.

True    False

17. I help my children get over sadness quickly so they can move on to better things.

True    False

18. I don’t see a child’s being sad as any kind of opportunity to teach the child much.

True    False

19. I think when kids are sad they have overemphasised the negative in life.

True    False

20. When my child is acting angry, she turns into a real brat.

True    False

21. I set limits on my child’s anger.

True    False

22. When my child acts sad, it’s to get attention.

True    False

23. Anger is an emotion worth exploring.

True    False

24. A lot of a child’s anger comes from the child’s lack of understanding and immaturity.

True    False

25. I try to change my child’s angry moods into cheerful ones.

True    False

26. When my child is sad, it’s a chance to get close.

True    False

27. Children really have very little to be angry about.

True    False

28. When my child is sad, I try to help the child explore what is making him sad.

True    False

29. When my child is sad, I show my child that I understand.

True    False

30. I want my child to experience sadness.

True    False

31. The important thing is to find out why a child is feeling sad.

True    False

32. Childhood is a happy-go-lucky time, not a time for feeling sad and angry.

True    False

33. When my child is sad, we sit down to talk over the sadness.

True    False

34. When my child is sad, I try to help him figure out why the feeling is there.

True    False

35. When my child is angry, it’s an opportunity for getting close.

True    False

36. When my child is angry, I take some time to try to experience this feeling with my child.

True    False

37. I want my child to experience anger

True    False

38. I think it’s good for kids to feel angry sometimes.

True    False

39. The important thing is to find out why the child is feeling angry.

True    False

40. When she gets sad, I warn her about not developing a bad character.

True    False

41. When my child is sad I’m worried he will develop a negative personality.

True    False

42. I’m not really trying to teach my child anything in particular about sadness.

True    False

43. When my child is angry, I try to be understanding of his mood.

True    False

44. My child has a bad temper and I worry about it.

True    False

45. I don’t think it is right for a child to show anger.

True    False

46. Angry people are out of control.

True    False

47. A child’s expressing anger amounts to a temper tantrum.

True    False

48. Kids get angry to get their own way.

True    False

49. When my child gets angry, I worry about his destructive tendencies.

True    False

50. If you let kids get angry, they will think they can get their way all the time.

T F

51. Angry children are being disrespectful.

True    False

52. Kids are pretty funny when they’re angry.

True    False

53. Anger tends to cloud my judgement and I do things I regret.

True    False

54. When my child is angry, it’s time to solve a problem.

True    False

55. When my child gets angry, I think it’s time for a spanking.

True    False

56. When my child gets angry, my goal is to get him to stop.

True    False

57. I don’t make a big deal of a child’s anger.

True    False

58. When my child is angry, I usually don’t take it all that seriously.

True    False

59. When I’m angry, I feel like I’m going to explode.

True    False

60. Anger accomplishes nothing.

True    False

61. Anger is exciting for a child to express.

True    False

62. A child’s anger is important.

True    False

63. Children have a right to feel angry.

True    False

64. When my child is mad, I just find out what is making her mad.

True    False

65. It’s important to help the child find out what caused the child’s anger.

True    False

66. When my child gets angry with me, I think, ‰ÛÏI don’t want to hear this.‰Û

True    False

67. When my child is angry, I think, “If only he could just learn to roll with the punches.”

True    False

68. When my child is angry, I think, “Why can’t she accept things as they are?”

True    False

69. I want my child to get angry, to stand up for himself.

True    False

70. I don’t make a big deal out of my child’s sadness.

True    False

71. When my child gets angry I want to know what she is thinking.

True    False

How to interpret your score

Permissive/Dismissing Parent:

Add up the number of times you said true for the following items:

1, 2, 6, 7, 9, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17, 18, 19, 24, 25, 27, 32, 42, 52, 56, 57, 58, 66, 67, 68, 70.

Divide the total by 25. This is your Permissive/Dismissing score.

Authoritarian/Disapproving Parent:

Add up the number of times you said true for the following items:

3, 4, 5, 8, 10, 11, 20, 21, 22, 40, 41, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 53, 55, 59, 60.

Divide the total by 23. This is your Authoritarian/Disapproving Parent score.

Authoritative Parent/ Emotion Coach:

Add up the number of times you said true for the following items:

16, 23, 26, 28, 29, 30, 31, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 43, 54, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 69, 71.

Divide the total by 23. This is your Authoritative Parent/ Emotion Coach score.

Now compare your three scores. The higher you scored in any one area, the more you tend toward that style of parenting.

Now look at the bulleted list, which summarises behaviours typical of each parenting style and explains how each style affects children.

THE PERMISSIVE/DISMISSING PARENT:

  • treats child’s feelings as unimportant, trivial

  • disengages from or ignores the child’s feelings

  • wants the child’s negative emotions to disappear quickly

  • characteristically uses distraction to shut down child’s emotions

  • may ridicule or make light of a child’s emotions

  • believes children’s feelings are irrational, and therefore don’t count

  • shows little interest in what the child is trying to communicate

  • may lack awareness of emotions in self and others

  • feels uncomfortable, fearful, anxious, annoyed, hurt, or overwhelmed by the child’s emotions

  • fears being out-of-control emotionally

  • focuses more on how to get over emotions than on the meaning of the emotion itself

  • believes negative emotions are harmful or toxic

  • believes focusing on negative emotions will just make matters worse

  • feels uncertain about what to do with the child’s emotions

  • sees the child’s emotions as a demand to fix things

  • believes negative emotions mean the child is not well adjusted

  • believes the child’s negative emotions reflect badly on their parents

  • minimizes the child’s feelings, downplaying the events that led to the emotion

  • does not problem-solve with the child, believes that the passage of time will resolve most problems

Effects of this style on children: They learn that their feelings are wrong, inappropriate, not valid. They may learn that there is something inherently wrong with them because of the way they feel. They may have difficulty regulating their own emotions. They may have trouble concentrating, lack self-control, respect and consideration for others therefore having trouble forming friendships and getting along with other children.

In my opinion, these children learn to use manipulation at home, they will also use this as a means of negotiating in their greater social environment to get what they want. Permissive/Dismissing Parent will often give into their children’s manipulation, as this is much easier than being strict and refusing their requests. This is of course a disadvantage to the child’s social interaction in the long run, as they may create or get involved in a relationship for the wrong reasons or create a negative self-esteem.

THE AUTHORITARIAN/DISAPPROVING PARENT:

  • displays many of the permissive/dismissing parent’s behaviours, but in a negative way

  • judges and criticises the child’s emotional expression

  • is overaware of the need to set limits on their children’s

  • emphasises conformity to good standards or behaviour

  • reprimands, disciplines, or punishes the child for emotional expression, whether the child is misbehaving or not

  • believes expression of negative emotions should be time-limited

  • believes negative emotions need to be controlled

  • believes negative emotions reflect bad character traits

  • believes the child uses negative emotions to manipulate; this belief results in power struggles

  • believes emotions make people weak, children must be emotionally tough for survival

  • believes negative emotions are unproductive, a waste of time

  • sees negative emotions (especially sadness) as a commodity that should be squandered

  • is concerned with the child’s obedience to authority

Effects of this style on children: These children may have similar effects regarding their emotions as the above parenting style caused. Furthermore characteristics of dependency, anger and serious adolescent rebellion often result. May be moody, unhappy and relatively aimless. May be low in achievement motivation and social assertion, which can lead to social inhibition and a lack of confidence.

AUTHORITATIVE PARENT/ EMOTION COACH:

  • values the child’s negative emotions as an opportunity for intimacy

  • can tolerate spending time with a sad, angry, or fearful child; does not become impatient with the emotion

  • is aware of and values his or her emotions

  • sees the world of negative emotions as an important arena for parenting

  • is sensitive to the child’s emotional states, even when they are subtle

  • is not confused or anxious about the child’s emotional expression; knows what needs to be done

  • respects the child’s emotions

  • does not make fun or make light of the child’s negative feelings

  • does not say how the child should feel

  • does not feel he or she has to fix every problem for the child

  • uses emotional moments as a time to

    – listen to the child

    – empathise with soothing words and affection

    – help the child label the emotion he or she is feeling

    – offer guidance on regulating emotions

    – set limits and teach acceptable expression of emotions

    – teach problem-solving skills

Effects of this style on children: They learn to trust their feelings, regulate their own emotions and solve problems. They have high self-esteem, learn well, get along well with others.

I have identified in my research that such a parenting style tends to promote in their children independence, self-reliance, responsibility and strong motivation to achieve. They are both socially and intellectually successful, they tend to be popular with their peers and are often cooperative towards their parents. Parents who are accepting of their children’s behaviours and feelings are likely to promote in them tolerance of negative affects which is likely to reduce their sensitivity to anxiety.

In other words it seems that such an approach (Authoritative Parenting/ Emotion Coach) is helpful to the child’s development as a whole!