Elementary School: Parenting Styles & Children's Temperaments: How Effective Parenting Can Help Reduce Parent-Child Conflicts

Child development researchers, who have studied patterns of parenting for years, have categorized four basic styles of parenting and their effects on children.  These four styles are: 

  1. Authoritarian parents who are highly controlling in their use of authority and rely on punishment. They allow little freedom of expression and do not encourage give and take. They do not allow their children to express any disagreement with their decisions. Researchers found that children of authoritarian parents tend to lack social competence, have lower self-esteem and rarely take initiative in a group. They show less intellectual curiosity and usually rely on the voice of authority.

  2. Authoritative parents who are warm and communicate well with their children. At the same time they retain authority, stay in control, and expect mature behavior from their children. They respect their child's independence and decisions, but also hold firm on their own positions. They allow enough freedom of expression so that the child can feel a sense of independence. Researchers found that in terms of social competence, the children of these parents were best adjusted.

  3. Permissive parents who are warm and accepting, but mainly concerned about not stifling their child's creativity. They make few demands for mature behavior; often want to be a friend to their child. Researchers found that the children of these parents often have poor impulse control, are immature and reluctant to take responsibility.

  4. Uninvolved Parents who demand little and respond minimally. In some cases this could be considered neglect or rejection.

Along with recognizing parenting styles it is important to recognize the temperament your son or daughter was born with.  Child development experts have established that children are born with a tendency toward certain moods and styles of reacting to people and events in their lives in specific ways. This is called temperament. There are three basic styles of temperament:

  1. Easy children are calm, happy, regular in sleeping and eating, and adaptable.

  2. Difficult children are often fussy, fearful of new situations, easily upset, high strung, and intense in their reactions.

  3. Slow to warm up children are relatively inactive and fussy, tend to withdraw at first and then gradually become more positive with experience and familiarity. However, temperament is not destiny. Family interactions and other experiences can make a difference. Parents who are attuned to their child or teen's tem¬perament can recognize their particular strengths and will find life more harmonious.

You may want to think about your own temperament and parenting style and how they match up with your son or daughter's temperament. Being aware of how your parenting style matches to their temperament helps to avoid unnecessary conflicts. This becomes especially useful when your child becomes a teen and is attempting to separate from you and strive for independence.  

Here are some further suggestions to keep in mind:

Be aware of your own needs and the ways in which your role as a parent is colored by your relationship with your own parents.  

Respect your son/daughter's uniqueness without comparing them to others.  Praising them for their own ideas and accomplishments will boost self-image and encourage independence. 

Make communication a priority. Take time to explain your motives and decisions, yet be open and listen to your son/daughter's point of view.

Take every opportunity to address your son/daughter's real needs as they arise.  

Make expectations clear. Setting limits will help your son/daughter develop self-control.  

Be a good role model.  Model how to disagree without being disagreeable.  This is a skill your son/daughter will use throughout life. 

Information has been compiled from various
educational and counseling resources