x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Which parenting style do you subscribe to?

From the helicopter parent to the authoritarian, the way in which children are raised will have an effect on them in the long run.

The trend forecaster Marian Salzman believes that contemporary parents want to have it all for themselves and for their children, and frequently adopt a mindful, highly anxious parenting style. Sound familiar? Check out the following parenting styles and discover whether you've embraced the latest fashions in child-rearing, or implemented the attitudes of your grandparents.

Parenting Style No 1: Helicopter

Always hovering and ready to jump in and help, today's ambitious, high-achieving parents take the same approach to their children as they would in the workplace - trying to give them everything they've got. "We follow a variant of helicopter parenting," says Denis Eugene Arackal, a father of two in Dubai who blogs at www.methewriter.wordpress.com.

"We offer help when needed and are always there for our children. We believe that parents should always keep an eye on the kids while sharing some responsibilities with them - we are not cynical, but at times the world can be a very bad place." While being there for your children is a good thing, too much hovering can hold them back. "Children of helicopter parents who save them from all experiences learn they are not capable of doing things on their own," warns Carmen Benton, a parenting educator at LifeWorks, Dubai (www.lifeworksdubai.com).

Parenting Style No 2: Authoritarian

These parents expect their children to follow strict rules, often without any explanation. They have high demands and are obedience and status-orientated. Children with authoritarian parents cross the road carefully, but would never dream of jumping the cracks in the pavement. They know what to expect from their daily lives and this gives them a sense of security, and they are easy to discipline because they don't tend to question rules.

"My mother was a disciplinarian, but she always knew when to let go," says Arackal. "She always explained why 'no' is 'no' and 'yes' is 'yes'. We also try to follow that with our kids."

While there are positives to the authoritarian approach, Naeema Jiwani, a child development psychologist at the Human Relations Institute, Dubai (www.hridubai.com) warns: "Children raised in this way are not taught how to problem-solve or use critical thinking as they don't negotiate with their parents to arrive at a middle ground. They tend to have low self-esteem and self-confidence because discipline is often based out of fear instead of respect."

Parenting Style No 3: High-anxiety

Generation Xers who have gone into overdrive when it comes to raising kids, they're super-mindful about everything they do and are constantly analysing, assessing and comparing with others. "Children with high-anxiety parents tend to be very organised and on the ball," says Jiwani.

Fiona Falconer, a copywriter and mum of two in Dubai, identifies with this approach: "I've adopted a mix of high-anxiety and helicopter parenting. I'm not overly disciplined, and while I like routine, I'm not a slave to it. Like most parents, I try not to compare my kids with others, but I think it is human nature to make sure they are 'keeping up'."

Children raised by highly anxious parents may find major life transitions overwhelming as their mother and father have tried to be in control of every obstacle in their life. More worryingly, "parents' high-anxiety reactions affect the likelihood of children developing anxiety disorders later on in life", says Jiwani.

Parenting Style No 4: Hothouse

From baby yoga to football for toddlers, these parents are obsessed with "teaching" their kids rather than leaving them to learn through play. Hothouse parents tend to be competitive and place great emphasis on developing well-rounded children.

"Over-scheduled children can become stressed, which impacts on their physical and mental health," warns Benton. "Young children learn through their five senses, which is why play is so important for them."

Small children develop cognitive skills over time. It is not possible to push a child to excel in something they are not ready for without long-term negative effects such as a fear of failure or an overly competitive streak. "No child under six years old needs to attend any after-school activity programmes if they are attending a 'good' early years programme in a school or a nursery, unless it is swimming, which is necessary for safety," says Benton.

Parenting Style No 5: Permissive

These indulgent parents make very few demands of their children and rarely discipline them. They have relatively low expectations and are nurturing and communicative with their children, often taking on the role of friend rather than parent. "Children who grow up with permissive parents are often very creative as their ideas have never been restricted," says Jiwani.

They tend to have less psychological problems, are risk-takers and are likely to be leaders. On the negative side, "these children tend to be more immature and may be underachievers as their parents have very low expectations of them", adds Jiwani.

They may also struggle with the school system of deadlines, rules and teachers, which conflicts with their home-life experience.

 

artslife@thenational.ae