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What is Authoritative Parenting?

How to Become a More Authoritative Parent

Parenting is not an exact science, and there's no magic formula for raising a happy, well-adjusted child. That said, more and more parents are finding that the authoritative parenting approach brings big benefits for children as they grow into young adults. But, what exactly is authoritative parenting and how can you apply it?

The Authoritative Parenting Approach

Of the four widely acknowledged primary parenting styles, authoritative parenting has become a popular child-rearing approach, due to its positive results with children at every stage of development. In essence, the authoritative parenting approach is a style of child-rearing that combines warmth, active listening, sensitivity, consistent discipline and the setting of limits. Authoritative parents use reasoning and positive reinforcement to guide children, while avoiding threats or punishments. While they encourage independence and hold high expectations of maturity, authoritative parents are also careful to set controls and limits on certain actions.

Becoming a More Authoritative Parent

Just about anyone can learn to become a more authoritative parent. You can also tailor authoritative parenting strategies to suit a child's unique needs, so you aren't using a cookie-cutter approach to parenting. Some good strategies include:

Listen attentively. Unlike authoritarian parents, who think children should be seen rather than heard, authoritative parents welcome their kid's opinions, allow them to share their ideas, and listen to their concerns.

Validate emotions. Authoritative parents acknowledge their kid's feelings, help them label their emotions, and teach their kids to recognize how feelings can affect behavior.

Establish clear non-negotiable rules. Authoritative parents clearly outline non-negotiable rules. They also explain the reasons behind rules; for instance, instead of telling their kids to go to sleep because "they said so," authoritative parents might tell their children to go to sleep, because it helps their brains and bodies grow.

Use consequences that teach lessons. Authoritative parents do not shame children, use corporal punishment, or tell their children that they are disappointed in them. They use constructive consequences to teach a child that he or she made a bad choice, but isn't a bad person. For example, if a child fails to turn off his or her video game when instructed to do so, he or she may lose the privilege for 24 hours.

Teach independence. By allowing children to make small choices and handle minor responsibilities, authoritative parents teach independence. Even if the child struggles with the responsibility, the parent remains patient and does not take over right away. When a child struggles with habits and behaviors, authoritative parents create behavior management plans, such as checklists and reminders, that support the child's efforts to become more independent.

Encourage self-discipline. Instead of controlling their kids, authoritarian parents seek to teach children to control themselves. Instead of calming an upset child, the parent teaches the child how to calm him or herself. Authoritarian parents also craft behavior management plans that teach life skills, including self-discipline, anger management and impulse control, which will serve the childwell  throughout his or her entire life.

The authoritative parenting counselors at Foundations Counseling can provide you with the tools you need to utilize an authoritative parenting approach with your kids. Contact us today!