Posts Tagged ‘ parenting styles ’

Are Overprotective Moms Hurting Kids’ Health?

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

Moms who are overprotective of their children–especially in the arena of avoiding risks in physical activity–may actually be increasing their kids’ risk of health problems, specifically obesity.  A longitudinal study conducted by Australian researchers found that moms who are overprotective tend to limit physical activity for their kids, and by age 10 or 11, the kids are at a higher risk of being overweight or obese.

The data came from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children, which followed more than 2,500 children from ages 4 to 11.  They used a measure called the Protectiveness Parenting Scale to rank parents’ degrees of protectiveness in three main areas:

  • How difficult a parent finds it to be separated from their child
  • How much they try to protect their child from problems or difficulties
  • How difficult it is for them to relinquish control of their child’s environment as they get older.

As the Science Network of Western Australia reports, moms who scored moderately high on the scale were 13 percent more likely to have overweight or obese kids; moms who scored high on the scale were 27 percent more likely.  More from the Science Network:

“However, we only found this pattern once kids reached the age of about 10-11 years.”

“This could be to do with the amount of independence and physical activity that kids get.”

“At 10–11 years some kids will be allowed to walk or ride to school on their own, or with friends, or participate in sport… others will be driven around and have greater restrictions.”

“So while some kids have many options for physical activity, kids with an overprotective parent might miss out, [which] could explain why we found higher rates of overweight and obesity.”

They also found higher protective scores across mothers from greater socioeconomic and environmental disadvantage, which Ms Hancock says is understandable.

“If they’re living in areas with increased traffic congestion, or in neighbourhoods that are less safe, then we need to remember that… it isn’t as simple as saying ‘let your kids be more active’ if the opportunities aren’t there.”

What is your parenting style?

Parenting Style: Attachment Parenting
Parenting Style: Attachment Parenting
Parenting Style: Attachment Parenting

Image: Mom and child holding hands, via Shutterstock

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Strict Parenting May Raise Your Child’s Obesity Risk

Friday, March 21st, 2014

Parents who are “authoritarian,” very strict and unyielding when it comes to rules and boundaries, are more likely to have children who struggle with weight issues than parents who are “authoritative,” meaning that rules and boundaries are clear, but more open to discussion and explanation. has more on a new study, which was conducted by Canadian researchers:

Until now, there hadn’t been a close look at how overall parenting style—how permissively or authoritatively parents interact with their kids on everything from homework to chores and getting along with their siblings—might affect children’s weight. “We looked at the general way that parents can affect their child’s obesity even if they are not trying to control specific health-related behaviors,” says the study’s lead author, Lisa Kakinami, a postdoctoral fellow at McGill University.

She and her colleagues followed a group of more than 37,000 children in Canada aged zero to 11 years, and asked parents about their interactions with their youngsters. The team queried parents about things like how they responded when their child did something they shouldn’t, and how much they praised their kids when they did something positive.

Based on their responses, Kakinami and her colleagues focused on two of the four well-established groups of parenting styles: authoritative, in which parents set rules and boundaries but explain their reasoning and show understanding when the rules are broken; and authoritarian, in which parents set strict rules but aren’t as open to discussing and explaining them to their children. (The others, at the opposite end of the spectrum, are uninvolved, in which parents communicate very little with their children and are virtually absent as authority figures; and permissive, in which parents make few demands and expect little self-control from their kids.)

Kakinami found that children of authoritarian parents were 30% more likely to be obese at 2 to 5 years old, and 37% more likely to be obese if they were 6 to 11 years old compared with children of authoritative parents.

While the study wasn’t designed to tease apart what might be contributing to the higher body mass indices (BMI) in the authoritarian households, pediatricians have some theories. “When a parent says absolutely ‘no,’ that becomes forbidden fruit, and kids may then value that more,” says Dr. Stephen Daniels, chair of pediatrics at the University of Colorado, who was not involved in the study, about certain kid-favorite foods such as sweets, soda and fast food that are high in calories.

Kakinami says there were hints that other factors may be at work as well. Authoritarian parents were less likely than authoritative moms and dads to praise their children or give them positive feedback for good behavior, regardless of whether it was related to their health. “The main difference in authoritative vs. authoritarian styles is the warmth expressed between the parent and child,” she says. “Authoritative parents ranked higher on praise than authoritarian parents.” And when their children misbehaved, authoritarian parents were “most likely to respond emotionally and punish the child but not tell them what they had done wrong.”

Image: Strict parent, via Shutterstock

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Genes May Determine Parenting Styles

Friday, March 21st, 2014

Genetic predispositions, not mere modeling, may be the biggest determining factor when it comes to how a person will parent their children, according to new research from Michigan State University.  More from a release describing the study:

A study by two Michigan State University psychologists refutes the popular theory that how adults parent their children is strictly a function of the way they were themselves parented when they were children.

While environmental factors do play a role in parenting, so do a person’s genes, said S. Alexandra Burt, associate professor of psychology and co-author of a study led by doctoral student Ashlea M. Klahr.

“The way we parent is not solely a function of the way we were parented as children,” Burt said. “There also appears to be genetic influences on parenting.”

Klahr and Burt conducted a statistical analysis of 56 scientific studies from around the world on the origins of parenting behavior, including some of their own. The comprehensive analysis, involving more than 20,000 families from Australia to Japan to the United States, found that genetic influences in the parents account for 23 percent to 40 percent of parental warmth, control and negativity towards their children.

“What’s still not clear, however, is whether genes directly influence parenting or do so indirectly, through parent personality for example,” Klahr said.

The study sheds light on another misconception: that parenting is solely a top-down process from parent to child. While parents certainly seem to shape child behavior, parenting also is influenced by the child’s behavior – in other words, parenting is both a cause and a consequence of child behavior.

“One of the most consistent and striking findings to emerge from this study was the important role that children’s characteristics play in shaping all aspects of parenting,” the authors write.

Image: Family, via Shutterstock

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Four Parenting Styles Defined in New Study

Monday, November 19th, 2012

Researchers at the University of Virginia have identified four distinct styles of parenting in a new study that explores differences in “family culture” that pervade communities and even families. According to The Huffington Post, the four categories are:

  • The Faithful (20 percent) whose parenting style is morality and/or religion-based.
  • Engaged Progressives (21 percent) who teach tolerance as a central value
  • The Detached (19 percent) who want their children to be independent and practical in their thinking and learning
  • American Dreamers (27 percent) who have aspirations that their children be more successful in life than they have been

More from The Huffington Post:

Parenting, this new research argues, is not a system you choose, but an outgrowth of who you are; you don’t select it as much as you let it find you. What is “good” parenting depends on the life you’ve lived and the values you hold.

Understanding this would go a long way toward ending, or, at least quieting, the parenting wars.

The Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia has been examining the roots of parenting style in “family culture,” and today’s report sorts American families into four distinct groups. No two agree on what kind of world awaits their children, nor what morals, values and ideals will be needed to navigate it.

“They speak different languages, they have different sets of beliefs and suspicions,” said Carl Desportes Bowman, Director of Survey Research for the Institute, when unveiling the results at a meeting in Washington, D.C. this morning.

Image: Family, via Shutterstock

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Study: This Parenting Style Leads to Delinquent Kids

Monday, February 13th, 2012

Researchers say that when parents are highly controlling and expect kids to follow their rules without question, children are more likely to be disrespectful and delinquent.

One of the main findings of this study, published in the February issue of the Journal of Adolescence, is that kids who trust their parents and see them as legitimate authority figures are less likely to engage in delinquent behavior. Researchers also found that a child’s perception of her parents’ authority depends on the parenting style Mom and Dad use.

The study outlined three main parenting styles:

Authoritative parents are demanding and controlling, but also receptive to their children’s needs. These parents aim to establish two-way communication with their kids to explain why they’ve established rules and to hear their children’s opinions about those rules.

Authoritarian parents are demanding and highly controlling. They don’t explain their reasons for setting rules, and are not open to hearing their kid’s opinions about the rules. These parents have a “my way or the highway” approach, and expect rules to be followed without question.

Permissive parents are not demanding or controlling. These parents are attentive to their children’s needs, but set few boundaries, and any rules they make are rarely enforced.

The researchers analyzed survey responses from about 600 middle- and high-school students and found that an authoritarian parenting style led kids to lack respect for their parents’ authority. These kids were more likely than others in the study to engage in delinquent behaviors such as theft or underage drinking. The authoritative style was the most successful; kids were more likely to listen to their parents, and were less likely to be delinquent. Interestingly, the children of permissive parents had less respect for their parents, but were not more or less likely to be delinquent.

Readers, do these findings surprise you? How would you describe your parenting style?

Image: Daughter and mom via Shutterstock.

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