Parenting can be both a trying and rewarding journey. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach, there are some methods to avoid. Many parents desire consistency, and they use a strict approach to maintain their rules, boundaries and other limitations. While this can be helpful for a child’s development, it can be harmful with the wrong method. Parenting counseling is beneficial for developing the right parenting strategies. The key to successfully being a strict and helpful parent is to know the difference between being authoritative and authoritarian. With children of any age, be authoritative not authoritarian.

Understanding Authoritarian Parenting

Authoritarian parents have very little responsiveness and lofty demands for their children. For example, an authoritarian parent may have a long list of strict rules. There may be minimal rewards and no emotional support for following the rules. Instead, the child may feel fearful if she or he does not follow them. An authoritarian parent uses harsher punishments, and there are often punishments for many things. For example, a child may be punished for not finishing dinner, not doing a task correctly or even smaller things. There are many rules, and failure to follow them all results in punishment. Authoritarian parents tend to lack proper nurturing abilities.

While it may look like the technique is successful to the parent, it harms the child. Children who have authoritarian parents are often shy or fearful around others and have low self-esteem. Some may instead behave aggressively. They can develop a lack of self-control in the future. Also, they often associate love with success or obedience.

Understanding Authoritative Parenting

Authoritative parents are still strict. However, they offer plenty of affirmation, support, nurturing and encouragement to children. An authoritative parent may still consistently punish a child for breaking reasonable rules. There may also be high standards and clear-cut boundaries. Balancing those with a high level of responsiveness is the key to protecting the child’s mental and emotional wellbeing. A child who lives in an authoritative environment still learns to follow rules or succeed. However, the child does not live in fear of punishment for every shortcoming. An authoritarian parent may threaten a child who refuses to eat with punishment instead of finding out why the child is not hungry. Alternately, an authoritative parent will figure out why the child will not eat. If the child is being picky, there may be no dessert. The child may be feeling unwell or may have a sensitivity to the food. In an authoritative structure, a child should not be afraid to talk, and the parent must be considerate enough to listen.

Be Authoritative Not Authoritarian with Parenting Counseling

Parents can learn how to maintain authority and gain better nurturing skills through counseling. Even if a parent has neglected emotional support at home, it is possible to turn it into a more positive structure. Parenting counseling with South O.C. Counseling shows parents how to use a positive approach to being strict. Since Dr. Piper Walsh is also experienced in counseling children, she can help them as well. Children who have been raised in an authoritarian environment may need help transitioning into a healthier one and dealing with any other issues. Dr. Walsh can help parents and children foster healthy relationships together.