What’s Your Parenting Style?
Phelan, ParentMagic.com, October 2005
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the self-discipline and self-esteem of one’s children often
requires an emotional juggling act by parents. It is not easy to
be firm and demanding one minute, then warm and affectionate the
next. In addition, some adults naturally have personalities or
temperaments that predispose them toward one parenting style or
tend to overemphasize the discipline side of the equation
are referred to as authoritarian. Authoritarian parents are
demanding in the worst sense of the word. They are intimidators,
requiring obedience and respect above all else. They become
overly angry and forceful when they don’t get that obedience and
respect. Their love and acceptance appear totally conditional to
the child. They do not listen to their kids or explain the
reason for their expectations, which are frequently unrealistic.
They often see their children’s individuality and independence
as irrelevant or threatening.
has shown that authoritarian parents tend to produce children
who are more withdrawn, anxious, mistrustful and discontented.
These children are often overlooked by their peers. Their
self-esteem is often poor.
overemphasize the self-esteem side of the equation are
referred to as permissive. They may be warm and supportive, but
they are not good disciplinarians. They make only weak demands
for good behavior and they tend to avoid or ignore obnoxious
behavior. They seem to believe that children should grow up
without any anger, tears or frustrations. They reinforce
demanding and inconsiderate behavior from their children. Their
love and acceptance are “unconditional” in the worst sense of
the word, for they set few limits on what their children do.
has shown that permissive parents tend to produce children who
are more immature, demanding and dependent. These children are
often rejected by their peers. Their self-esteem is often
unrealistic and hard to interpret, for they often blame others
for their misfortunes.
The Authoritative Parenting Model
are able to provide for both the discipline and self-esteem
needs of their youngsters are referred to as authoritative. They
clearly communicate high—but not unrealistic—demands for their
children’s behavior. They expect good things from their kids and
reinforce those things when they occur. When kids act up, on the
other hand, authoritative parents respond with firm limits, but
without fits of temper. They are warm, reasonable and sensitive
to a child’s needs. They are supportive of a child’s
individuality and encourage growing independence.
Authoritative parents tend to produce competent children. These
kids are more self-reliant, self-controlled and happier. They
are usually accepted and well-liked by their peers. Their
self-esteem is good.
research, then, support the idea that children need both
discipline and self-esteem to grow up psychologically healthy.
Parenting expert Dr. Thomas W. Phelan deals with both sides of
the equation in his best-selling book, 1-2-3 Magic:
Effective Discipline for Children 2-12,
and to a large extent, in its “sequel,”
Surviving Your Adolescents:
How to Manage and Let Go of Your 13-18 Year Olds,
which also recognizes the need to respect the growing
independence of the adolescent. To learn more visit
Quick Tip: How to Get Your Kids
to Pick Up
The 55-Gallon Metal Drum
This idea was described to me by a woman I spoke with on the
phone many years ago. She told me that picking up around her
house had never been a problem. This resourceful mother kept a
55-gallon, metal drum in the garage, which was right next to her
kitchen. Whenever she would find anything of her children’s that
was out of place, she would simply put the items into the metal
This procedure had become so routine with her four boys, that
whenever one of the kids couldn’t find something of his, he
would simply look in the drum. For example, her second oldest
came running into the kitchen one day and exclaimed, “Mom, I
can’t find my gym shoes. Are they in the drum?” “Yes,” was
mother’s reply, and the incident was over. You say you don’t
happen to have a 55-gollon drum handy or your kids couldn’t
reach in there if you did? A large box will do fine.
Adapted from: 1-2-3 Magic Effective
Discipline for Children 2-12, New 3RD
Edition by Dr. Thomas Phelan
This award-winning, best-selling program provides three simple
steps to raising well-behaved, happy, competent youngsters.
Available in book, video and DVD formats. To learn more visit
Used with permission. Copyright © 2005
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