Posts Tagged ‘ authoritative parenting ’

Parenting Principle #2: Talk, Talk, Talk

Monday, June 30th, 2014

What are the parenting principles for raising happy, well-adjusted children? Here the focus is on the importance of talking to babies and children.

Maybe this sounds silly to you. But the fact is that parents differ tremendously in how much they talk to their kids.

Lots of studies have tracked how much parents talk to their babies and toddlers. Projects have literally recorded parental talk and counted up how many words were spoken – especially those directed to the babies and toddlers. The results can be summarized simply. The more the parents talk to their babies and toddlers, the more advanced the language skills. Not just short term, but over time as well. Babies and toddlers absorb language. But they need to hear a lot of it – and the reality is that not all of them hear as much as they should.

Parental talk doesn’t just improve language development. It’s the tool parents use to help kids direct their behavior. Finding the right words to explain rules and limits in a consistent manner makes for the most effective parenting at any age. Think about it this way. Imagine you are observing parents and toddlers in a parking lot. One parent is trying to make the toddler stay with them by grabbing their arm and giving them a spanking. Another parent is holding a child’s hand and explaining that he or she can’t run off by themselves because it’s not safe (keep in mind that the parent is holding the hold to be sure the child doesn’t run off). Which do you think is more effective, both in the short term and as a long-term parenting strategy. The power of explanation, combined with consistency and follow through, are characteristics that define an “authoritative” parenting style – the style that has been shown across decades of research to be most productive in terms of fostering positive development.

One other big thing happens when you talk to your child a lot. They tend to talk to you too. Which means that they will be comfortable confiding in you across the ages. That’s a huge benefit that will come in very handy.

More in This Series

 Keep track of your child’s milestones.

Development Milestones: What to Expect at 6 Months
Development Milestones: What to Expect at 6 Months
Development Milestones: What to Expect at 6 Months

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Is Teen Drug Use Influenced By A Friend’s Parents?

Friday, October 26th, 2012

A recent study of teens suggests that it is. Or put another way, even though you say “No”, it still might be influential that your teen’s friend’s parents don’t. 

A team of researchers reported that teens’ substance use could be predicted from the parenting style of their friends. Teens whose friends’ parents were ‘authoritative’  (meaning they were affectionate yet set limits with their kids) had greatly reduced levels of substance use, as compared to teens whose friends’ parents were ‘neglectful’  (meaning they weren’t affectionate and set few limits with their kids). The effects held after accounting for the parenting style of the kids’ own parents and other possible confounding variables – suggesting some type of direct influence that was quite dramatic. For example, kids who had friends with authoritative parenting styles were:

38% less likely to binge drink

39% less likely to smoke cigarettes

43% less likely to smoke marijuana

Or another way to look at these data is to say the teen’s risk of substance use was much greater when the friend’s parents were ‘neglectful’.

Of course, there are typically some selection effects in these kinds of studies – kids often seek out friends who are similar to them in terms of interest in substance use. But that said, there is something to these findings. I’ve conducted studies in which teens carry around electronic diaries and indicate where they are, who they are with, and what they are doing. Without questions, kids who used substances were most likely to report doing so when they were with a friend, at the friend’s house … and the friend’s parents were not at home.

So, the take-home message is that it’s a good idea to know not only who your kid’s friends are, but also something about what happens when they are over their friend’s house – particularly with respect to the extent that the parents are around, and how they behave when they are there. And the best source of that is … your own kid. That’s why open communication is so important in the teen years.

Just Say No! via Shutterstock.com 

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