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Essay On Should Parents Be Strict

What's Wrong with Strict Parenting?

Research shows that most people think strict parenting produces better-behaved kids. However, research studies on discipline consistently show that strict, or authoritarian, child-raising actually produces kids with lower self esteem who behave worse than other kids -- and therefore get punished more! Strict parenting actually creates behavior problems in children. Why?

1. Strict parenting deprives kids of the opportunity to internalize self-discipline and responsibility.

Harsh limits may temporarily control behavior, but they don’t help a child learn to self-regulate. Instead, harsh limits trigger a resistance to taking responsibility for themselves. There is no internal tool more valuable for kids than self-discipline, but it develops from the internalization of loving limits. No one likes to be controlled, so it's not surprising that kids reject limits that aren't empathic. They see the "locus of control" outside of themselves, rather than WANTING to behave.

2. Authoritarian parenting -- limits without empathy -- is based on fear. It teaches kids to bully.

Kids learn what they live and what you model, right? Well, if kids do what you want because they fear you, how is that different than bullying? If you yell, they'll yell. If you use force, they'll use force.

3. Kids raised with punitive discipline have tendencies toward anger and depression.

That's because authoritarian child raising makes it clear to kids that part of them is not acceptable, and that parents aren't there to help them learn to cope and manage those difficult feelings that drive them to act out. They're left lonely, trying to sort out for themselves how to overcome their "lesser" impulses.

4. Kids raised with strict discipline learn that power is always right.

They learn to obey, but they don't learn to think for themselves. Later in life, they won't question authority when they should. They're less likely to take responsibility for their actions and more willing to follow the peer group, or to dodge responsibility by saying that they were only trying to “follow orders.”

5. Kids raised with harsh discipline tend to be more rebellious.

Studies show that children raised with a strict parenting style tend to be more angry and rebellious as teenagers and young adults. To see why, simply consider how this works for most adults. Virtually all of us were raised with some degree of harshness, and we chafe at control to that degree -- even when we're the ones imposing it! That means we end up with problems regulating ourselves. Sometimes this shows up as anger and resentfulness at any perceived limit or criticism, or by over-reacting when we think someone is trying to tell us what to do. Sometimes it shows up in rebellion against the limits we impose on ourselves. For instance, we may harshly starve ourselves with a new diet and then rebel by binging. (Not surprisingly, studies show that kids raised with strict parenting are more likely to become overweight!)

6. Because kids raised strictly only "do right" when we're there, they get into more trouble.

They also become excellent liars.

7. Authoritarian Parenting undermines the parent-child relationship.

Parents who relate punitively to their kids have to cut off their natural empathy for their children, which makes the relationship less satisfying to both parent and child. Parenting also becomes much harder for these parents because their kids lose interest in pleasing them and become much more difficult to manage. So strict parenting makes for unhappy parents. And children who are parented strictly end up fighting with parents and carrying a chip on their shoulder. As they get older, they look for love in all the wrong places.

The bottom line is that strictness does not work in creating better-behaved kids; in fact, it sabotages everything positive we do as parents and handicaps our kids in their efforts to develop emotional self-discipline.

So does Permissive parenting work? Nope. Click here for the reasons permissive parenting is bad for your child.

And what does work? Many studies show that there's another way that works best. This approach has been called "authoritative" parenting, but I don't like that word because it is usually confused with "authoritarian. (Notice they're spelled differently, and they don't mean the same thing!) Instead, I call this parenting style "Empathic Limits" to get across the point that we do set limits, just like the Authoritarian (strict) parents, but we do it with empathy, just like the Permissive parents. Children thrive on Limits and Age-appropriate expectations, but only if they're set with empathy. Here's how.

But it's important to note that this doesn't just mean a happy medium between Permissive and Strict. The happy medium approach tends to compromise standards in ways that aren't good for kids ("Ok, you can stay up later") while continuing to use punishments like Timeouts -- milder, but still punishments. In other words, it isn't good for either parents or kids, even if it isn't as bad as authoritarian or permissive. Why? Because parents feel forced to compromise their standards, and their kids still don't behave very well (because the parent is still using punishment.)

What we're really aiming for is the expectations and limits that keep kids functioning at a high level, combined with the warmth and support of "Permissive." That combination of empathy and limits is the sweet spot that raises amazing kids -- and makes for the best parenting. For a complete explanation of this parenting style, see The Sweet Spot Between Strict and Permissive.

Click here to watch Dr. Laura's video "The Sweet Spot Between Strict and Permissive Parenting."  

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Want to explore the research behind this approach? My favorite resource is the index of Alfie Kohn's wonderful book Unconditional Parenting, which lists hundreds of peer-reviewed studies that support this view. That's a wealth of research. I refer readers here because you get a synopsis of peer-reviewed research from a credible academic, and you get the citations to track the studies down if you want to. But here are a few studies to get you started. More are being published every day.

  • Burhans, Karen Klein, and Carol S. Dweck. “Helplessness in Early Childhood: The Role of Contingent Worth.” Child Development 66 (1995): 1719-38.
  • Chapman, Michael, and Carolyn Zahn-Waxler. “Young Children’s Compliance and Noncompliance in Parenting.” In Marc H. Bornstein, ed., Handbook of Parenting, vol. 4, Applied and Practical Parenting. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum, 1995.
  • Dienstbier, et al. “An Emotion-Attribution Approach to Moral Behavior.” Psychological Review 82 (1975): 299-315.
  • Hoffman, Martin. “Power Assertion by the Parent and Its Impact on the Child.” Child Development 31 (1960): 129-34.
  • Hoffman, Martin. “Moral Development.” In Carmichael’s Manual of Child Psychology, 3rd ed., vol. 2, edited by Paul H. Mussen. New York: Wiley, 1970b. 285-6
  • Assor, Avi, Guy Roth, and Edward L. Deci. “The Emotional Costs of Parents’ Conditional Regard: A Self-Determination Theory Analysis.” Journal of Personality 72 (2004): 47-89.
  • Grolnick, Wendy S. The Psychology of Parental Control: How Well-Meant Parenting Backfires. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum, 2003.
  • Hoffman, Marin, and Herbert D. Saltzstein. “Parent Discipline and the Child’s Moral Development.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 5 (1967): 45-57.
  • Cohen, Patricia, and Judith S. Brook. “the Reciprocal Influence of Punishment and Child Behavior Disorder.” In Coercion and Punishment in Long-Term Perspectives, edited by Joan McCord. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1998.
  • Kandel, Denise B., and Ping Wu. “Disentangling Mother-Child Effects in the Development of Antisocial Behavior.” In Coercion and Punishment in Long-Term Perspectives, edited by Joan McCord. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1998.
  • Gershoff, Elizabeth Thompson. “Corporal Punishment by Parents and Associate Child Behaviors and Experiences: A Meta-Analysis and Theoretical Review.” Psychological Bulletin 128 (2002): 539-79.
  • Gordon, Thomas. Teaching Children Self-Discipline…At Home and at School. New York: Times Books, 1989.
  • Hoffman, Martin. “Conscience, Personality, and Socialization Techniques.” Human Development 13 (1970a): 90-126.
  • Sears, Robert R., Eleanor E. Maccoby, and Harry Levin. Patterns of Child Rearing. Evanston, IL: Row, Peterson, 1957.
  • Stormshak, et al “Parenting Practices and Child Disruptive Behavior Problems in Early Elementary School.” Journal of Clinical Child Psychology 29 (2000): 17-29.
  • Straus, Murray A. “Children Should Never, Ever, Be Spanked, No Matter What the Circumstances.” In Current Controversies on Family Violence, 2nd ed., edited by Donileen R. Loseke, Richard J. Gelles, and Mary M. Cavanaugh. London: Sage, 2004.
  • Straus, Murray A., David B. Sugarman, and Jean Giles-Sims. “Spanking by Parents and Subsequent Antisocial Behavior of Children.” Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine 151 (1997): 761-67.
  • Straus, Murray A. Beating the Devil Out of Them: Corporal Punishment in American Families and Its Effects on Children. 2nd ed. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction, 2001.
  • Toner, Ignatius J. “Punitive and Non-Punitive Discipline and Subsequent Rule-Following in Young Children.” Child Care Quarterly 15 (1986): 27-37.

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To raise a child in a perfect possible manner in this 21st century is one heck of a task. A parent cannot read the diaries of his ancestors or can follow their rules to raise his/her child today as we have entered a totally different world. The 21st century is known as one of the busiest eras of all time where not only parents are busy with their jobs but children are forced to spend their whole day out of their houses too.  When parents today are not getting enough time to spend with their children, then how are they going to do right upbringing of their children?

The main problem in today’s world is that technology is the absolute source of pleasure for kids. Whether they were neglected during childhood by their parents or today this technological world has made them like this, it does not matter now. The thing which matter is ‘what should parents do now to make their child normal’.

Different people handle their children differently. Some think that adopting strict measures will make their child learn the difference between right and wrong. They have this misconception that if they behave in a strict manner with their kids, it will make their kids tough. On the other hand, some assume clemency and compassion are the best methods. Some are of the opinion of permissive parenting. Whether strict parenting or permissive parenting should be done is still a debated topic.

Nothing is absolutely flawless. Everything in the world has its own gains and pitfalls. A parent who is a fervent supporter of permissive parenting is at fault somewhere just like the one with strict parenting view. You can only make your life smooth and calm when you create balance in everything you do. Balance is necessary here too. Both styles of parenting have its pros and cons. And while parenting, parents should be cautioned of its impact on their children’s life.

For example, Parents, in a desire to prove themselves best and to fulfill the wishes and needs of their kids, should avoid always taking the support of permissive parenting. They should also learn to say ‘No’ at places where needed. Similarly, parents, just to be respected and feared, should avoid adopting too much strictness so that their kids do not move away from them. Here’s a bird’s eye view to some of the good and bad sides of both kinds of parenting.

Permissive Parenting

Bright Side

  • Parents become child’s friend and create a beautiful environment at home. He shares things with you. He becomes sure that my parents love me and becomes confident.
  • When you develop a lenient attitude with your child, he starts liking you and eventually gets attached to you.

Dark Side

  • A child sometimes misunderstood this kind of parenting. He becomes over-confident and self-absorbed by merely thinking that his no matter whatever he does, his parents will never say anything to him.
  • When there is too much leniency, the parenting relation changes into friendship and child forgets to differentiate between how to behave with friends and parents.

Strict Parenting

Bright Side

  • Children avoid bad behaviors and discipline because they know they would have to be answerable to his/her parents.
  • Strict parents set boundaries for their children so that they can learn restraint and do not hesitate in taking important decisions. Through their set limits and boundaries, they make them tough.
  • Strict parents always strive to push their children toward success. Their only purpose is to feed in the minds of their children that academic success is their only goal. And it helps too. Under strict supervision, when they study, they score well.

Dark Side

  • Children hate boundaries and restrictions. In strict parenting, there is a possibility that your child starts hating you.
  • There is a chance that because of your fear, the child starts doing things that you restrain him doing from and then when you ask he starts lying.
  • He might stop asking you questions and talking to you just in fear that you would mind or will scold him/her.
  • Too much administration will make your child dependent on you. He will never know the meaning of freedom and all his life will rely on you or your permission.

Now the question is how can balance be brought? How can parents be taught to create balance in parenting? What things should they adopt or avoid raising their children in the best possible ways? The only thing parents today need to learn is democratic parenting.

Democratic parenting

It is the third and considered as the best form of parenting by research. Democratic parenting is the form of parenting where parents are the leaders of the house. They give freedom to their children, let them take decisions, give them the right to make choices and at the same set rules for them, make them obey the rules and if they make bad decisions and avoid following rules then they have set punishments for them too.

The advantage of this kind of parenting is that at the time where children are taught to make choices out of fear, they are also taught that what would happen if they follow bad choices too. If they set rules, they also tell them why they should follow these rules and how these rules are beneficial for them. At the time where there is a great deal of love and leniency in this kind of parenting, there are also set of rules and regulations which children are taught to abide by throughout their life.

Parenting is one of the most difficult things and no kind of parenting is without struggles. Children don’t have a conscience like adults. They do not have the ability to differentiate between right and wrong. They act on the call of their instincts. For example, if they are hungry, they need food. They don’t care if their parents are present or not, they just need food. We cannot blame them to be voracious and loud. If you scold a child for crying to be fed, it will be like punishing an innocuous act.

As Benjamin Franklin once said, ‘Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn’.  Age 2-7 for a child is known as the age of growth and development. It is the age in which a child’s physical, emotional, social and rational development occurs. This is the best age for a parent to make the best use of a parenting style which inculcates a sense of integrity, self-respect, moral character, and aspirations to succeed. It is the age when a child becomes stronger, develop feelings, start to learn skills. It is the best age for parents to spot their kid’s nature and adopt methods to see how they can raise the child in the best possible manner according to his/her nature. These are the best years when through love and affection parents can do the finest upbringing.

Today so many researchers have made good parenting easy for parents but still why is that more than many children are not being brought up the way they should be. The reason can only be one: lack of attention and time. It is a little bitter but truth that majority of parents have passed their children to either babysitter or to smartphones. A child spends more than half of his day with babysitters than his parents. Similarly, if a mother is busy with her chores, she hands over a smartphone to her child so that the child does not disturb or cry. No doubt on the uses of technology, smartphones contain too many apps beneficial for a child’s learning but those apps too can never replace a parent’s attention and teachings. This is the best time when parents should adopt techniques of democratic parenting. And one of the elements of democratic parenting that makes it the superlative is the huge amount of attention given to children by parents.

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I am Aimen Hassan, a passionate writer and keen reader. Writing is more like a leisure pursuit to me and I write, almost, about everything. I aim to share my thoughts and refine my knowledge through blogging. The idea is to help students with their essay writing skills and to encourage an open environment of knowledge sharing which illuminate us with innovation and new ideas.

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