Characteristics of Effective
parenting styles (Baumrind)
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Acceptance and involvement
Control (sets clear, consistent rules and has
high, but not unrealistic, expectations of
the child, which Baumrind calls “maturity
demands”)
Autonomy granting (allows the child to
make own decisions when appropriate)
Authoritative parenting
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The most effective child-rearing style
High in acceptance and involvement
Exercise firm, reasonable control and insist on
mature behavior (and give reasons for
expectations)
Parents are warm, attentive, sensitive to needs
Create an emotionally fulfilling bond with child
Grant child autonomy to make decisions when
he’s ready to do so
Traits of children from
authoritative parenting
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High in self-esteem
Independent
Altruistic and cooperative
Self-confident
Achievement-oriented; persist at tasks
Academically successful
Upbeat mood
Authoritarian parenting style
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Low in warmth, acceptance, and involvement
High in control, physical punishment, and
psychological coercion (e.g., withdrawing love).
Critical and threatening
Make decisions for child and expect the child to
accept them without question; don’t allow much
autonomy
Cold and rejecting
Traits of children from
authoritarian parenting
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Anxious, unhappy, low self-esteem
React with hostility when frustrated
Boys, especially, show high rates of anger
and defiance; aggression likely
Girls are likely to be dependent and
overwhelmed by challenging tasks
Do poorer in school and have fewer social
skills with peers
Permissive parenting style
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Warm and accepting but uninvolved
Parent has low “maturity demands” – don’t
expect much from the child
May be overindulgent or lax with rules and
discipline
Try to be “friends” with the child, rather than
their parent
Let child make most decisions and engage in little
control of the child (e.g., child can go to bed
when he wants to, doesn’t have to behave, etc.)
Traits of children from
permissive parenting
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Impulsive, disobedient, and rebellious
Overly demanding and dependent on adults
Show less persistence on tasks
Link between permissive parenting and overly
dependent, nonachieving behavior is especially
strong for boys
Do worse in school, especially during
adolescence
Likely to be immature with peers and in school
Unlikely to be independent or take responsibility
Uninvolved parenting style
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Considered to be the worst style
Low acceptance and involvement
Little or no control of child
General indifference to autonomy granting
Parents are emotionally detached,
overwhelmed, & depressed—no time or
energy for children
Can lead to neglect of child
Traits of children from
uninvolved parenting
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Disrupts virtually every aspect of development,
including attachment, cognition, and emotional &
social skills
Poor emotional self-regulation
School achievement difficulties
Antisocial behavior
Impulsive, incompetent with peers; show
disturbances in social relationships for many
years
Cultural variations
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Chinese parents describe their parenting as more
controlling; they’re more directive in teaching &
scheduling children’s time; foster high selfcontrol and achievement
Chinese parents appear less warm than Western
parents but really aren’t.
Hispanic—insist on respect for parents, especially
father, but show high parental warmth.
African-American parenting
styles
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Wide variations here, but among low SES
African-American groups, the following traits are
often seen:
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Expect immediate obedience
Are very strict as a way of fostering self-control and
a watchful attitude in risky environments
Use a “no-nonsense” discipline combining strictness,
physical punishment, and warmth & reasoning
The goal of discipline
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Discipline is not synonymous with punishment
The goal of discipline is to correct unwanted
behavior and teach the child more appropriate
ways to behave
The ultimate goal is the development of morality
in the child
Discipline methods are widely controversial.
Inductive discipline
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Induction: when an adult helps the child notice
feelings by pointing out the effects of the child’s
misbehavior on others.
Helps establish empathy in the child and is
effective starting around age 2
Preschoolers whose parents use it are more likely
to refrain from wrongdoing, confess and repair
damages after misbehavior, and display helping
behavior.
More about induction
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Helps child develop ideas about morality
by inducing empathy for others
Gives children reasons for changing
behavior that make sense to them
Inducing empathy-based guilt is an
important motivator of moral action.
Discipline that relies on
punishment or threats of it
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When you threaten punishment, engage in
harsh physical punishment, or threaten to
withdraw love, children become so anxious
and afraid that they can’t think clearly
enough to figure out what they should do.
These practices do NOT get children to
internalize moral rules.
Long-lasting effects of harsh
discipline
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The more harsh threats, angry physical control, &
punishment that kids experience, the more likely
they are to develop serious, lasting mental health
problems.
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Weak internalization of moral rules
Depression
Aggression, antisocial behavior
Poor academic performance
Criminality and partner & child abuse in adulthood
What do children learn from
harsh discipline?
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Parents often spank in response to children’s
aggression, but spanking itself is an aggressive
act.
Children develop a chronic sense of being
personally threatened, which prevents empathy
toward others. More focused on self-protection.
Children who are spanked are much more likely
to spank their own children.
Prevalence of spanking in
America
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Between 70-90% of American adults report
spanking their children.
Spanking is most prevalent in the preschool
years—peaks around age 4 and then starts
declining at age 5.
50% of parents still spank children at age
12.
Is spanking ever good?
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A recent meta-analysis of many over 20 studies
show that mild corporal punishment is actually
one of the most effective methods of punishment
(compared with other techniques such as time-out
and withdrawal of privileges).
Spanking needs to be MILD, done with the hand
only, accompanied by explanations of the
wrongdoing, and not done in anger to be
effective.
Most child experts disagree with spanking
entirely.
Cultural differences in spanking
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Among Caucasian-Americans, physical
punishment is positively associated with
adolescent aggression and antisocial behavior.
In African-American families, the opposite is
true: the more mothers had disciplined physically
in childhood, the less their teenagers displayed
angry, acting-out behavior and got in trouble at
school and with police.
Why the cultural differences?
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In Black families, physical discipline is culturally
approved, generally mild, delivered in a context
of parental warmth, and aimed at helping kids
become responsible adults.
White parents usually consider physical
punishment to be wrong, so when they resort to
it, they’re usually agitated and rejecting the child.
Black children may view spanking as done with
their best interests in mind, and White children
view it as an act of personal aggression.
Alternatives to physical
punishment
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Put the child in time-out until he’s ready to
act appropriately.
Withdraw privileges (works especially well
with an older child)
Use “positive discipline”
Positive discipline
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Build a mutually respectful bond with the child
Let the child know ahead of time how to act—
what the rules are
Praise mature behavior
Children show firmer conscience development
and express empathy after transgressions, play
fairly in games, and behave responsibly and
kindly.
If child genuinely loves and respects the parent,
she’ll want to heed parental demands.
Three cardinal rules for discipline
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Consistency—don’t permit children to misbehave
on some occasions but scold them on others.
Warmth—a warm parent-child relationship makes
the child find parental displeasure especially
upsetting. They want to regain parental warmth
and approval as soon as possible.
Explanations—Tell the child what he did wrong
and why he’s being punished; leads to much
bigger reduction in misbehavior than punishment
alone.
The importance of modeling
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Children learn to behave morally largely through
modeling—watching and imitating people who
demonstrate appropriate behavior.
Models are most influential during the preschool
years.
Children who have had consistent exposure to
caring adults have internalized prosocial rules and
follow them regardless of whether the model is
present.
Child Abuse: Statistics
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Especially common in large industrialized nations
In U.S., 12 out of every 1000 children were
identified as child abuse victims in 2005; the
actual number is thought to be MUCH higher.
Parents commit more than 80% of the abusive
incidents; other relatives account for 7%.
Remainder are from parents’ unmarried partners,
school officials, camp counselors, etc.
Mothers engage in neglect more than fathers;
fathers engage in sexual abuse more than
mothers.
Types of child abuse
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Physical abuse
Sexual abuse (most common in middle
childhood)
Neglect (most common in infancy an young
preschool years)
Emotional abuse
Preschool and school-age children are most likely
to receive physical, sexual, and emotional abuse.
Is there an “abusive personality
type”?
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Child abuse is more common in
“disturbed” (mentally ill) parents, but there
is no single abusive personality type.
Even “normal” parents sometimes abuse
their children.
Parents who were abused as children do not
necessarily become abusers.
The abuse-prone child
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Premature or very sick babies are more
likely to be abused.
Temperamentally difficult children
Attention-deficit and hyperactive children
Children with other developmental
problems
Parents who are likely to abuse
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Alcohol and drug abuse
Psychological disturbance
History of abuse as child
Belief in harsh physical discipline
Unreasonable expectations for child
Young parents (under 30)
Low educational level
Family characteristics of abuse
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Low income; poverty; homelessness
Marital instability
Social isolation
Physical abuse of mother by husband or
boyfriend
Frequent moves
Large families or closely-spaced children
Overcrowded, disorganized households
Unemployment or other types of stress
Consequences of child abuse
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Impairs the development of emotional selfregulation
Inhibits empathy and sympathy development
Poor self-concept
Lack of social skills and academic motivation
Severe depression, aggression, peer difficulties,
substance abuse, and delinquency (including
violent crime)
Further consequences
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Demeaning parental messages result in
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Low self-esteem, self-blame
High anxiety
Difficulty forming close relationships
Depression and suicide attempts
Serious behavior problems in school
Central nervous system damage (abnormal EEG;
reduced size and impaired functioning of the cerebral
cortex and corpus callosum; heightened production
of stress hormones
Preventing child abuse
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Providing social support to families is crucial
Single most important factor in preventing
mothers with a childhood history of abuse from
abusing their own children is having a trusting
relationship with another person—can be a
spouse, friend, or family member.
1500 American children, mostly infants and
preschoolers, die from child abuse every year.
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Characteristics of Effective parenting styles (Baumrind)