How you parent your child can affect their behavior, grades, and yes even their weight. Dr. Mayer reports on a recent research study that found that “parenting style is associated with a 500% difference in the risk of childhood obesity.” I don’t know about you but 500% seems like an awful lot to me. And this percentage is completely dependant upon parenting style.
There are four main parenting styles:
Authoritarian – The parent decides what is best for the child and the child is expected to follow the decisions of the parents. Children are usually held to a high level of achievement. Physical punishment is often used instead of teaching internal discipline.
Authoritative – Parents and children work together to make decisions. The authoritative parent takes into consideration the needs and desires of the child before ultimately making the decision themselves. The child is held to certain guidelines and responsibilities.
Permissive – The permissive parent engages in a joint decision making process with their child. But ultimately they allow their child to make their own decisions. The child determines the rules and discipline is used sporadically if at all.
Unengaged – By far the worst parenting style. Unengaged parents allow their children to make their own decisions without being involved in the process at all.
What researchers have found is that authoritative parenting is “associated with lower rates of obesity and smoking, better grades in school, and fewer symptoms of depression.” Authoritative parents help their children learn to regulate their own behavior. They realize that their parents love them and respect them and usually show their parents the same love and respect.
Authoritative parents do four key things:
1. They are respectful of their child’s opinions and consider them when making decisions.
2. Set limits and rules with pre-arranged consequences if the rules are broken. Then they follow through and enforce the consequences when limits are violated.
3. “Give their child choices among acceptable options.” This allows their child to make decisions for themselves within parental given guidelines.
4. Set a good example by modeling appropriate behaviors.
Dr. Mayer reminds parents that “by taking a more authoritative approach to parenting, you will give your child every advantage in achieving a healthier and happier life.