We’ve learned a lot this year. One of the best comes from this review of a Yale study showing: “Authoritative parenting style is very psychologically damaging to your children and you should practice modeling instead.”
It’s one of the best because it’s ultra clear with a tangible change we can all make. Some parents will find that they are practicing an entire philosophy of being “the boss” (including using punishment/reward, “my house my rules”, and “do what I say because I say it” types of reasoning). What the psychologists at Yale found are that children growing up in these types of household (of which there is a range/varying degrees) are damaged and overwhelmingly maladjusted.
The director of the Yale Parenting Center, Alan Kazdin, sympathizes with the fact that parents may feel better about using punishments to reinforce decision making. However, he and his team have never observed an instance where punishment (one time or repeated) changes their child.
This includes the very pervasive time out strategy, which he describes as a gentle punishment. So what’s the problem exactly? It shows up in older children, teens, and adults as much higher than average instances of resentment, lying/dishonesty, stealing, fighting, and failure to learn what right and wrong is (instead seeing what will and what won’t get them into trouble).
These cycles also tend to flow generationally so there may be a long and pronounced history of authoritative parenting in families. What Kazdin and his team have discovered does work in changing or modifying behavior is modeling. What this means is that the parent initiates the reaction they want their child to have or action they want their child to do.
A cool and relatable podcast with amazing tips on making the switch to modeling behaviors/feelings and maintaining that change is Mindful Mama. Check it out for inspiration, and don’t feel discouraged if you’re the first generation of parent(s) changing their responses for their child(ren)!
Give it a go and see how it works for you. The research is definitive- you have literally nothing to lose and stand to gain a fair bit. You may even grow in the process with your child(ren), and that’s what we’d call a win-win.