I am still processing the excellent book, “The Good News About Bad Behavior,” by Katherine Reynolds Lewis. Lewis describes four types of parenting styles (and I like to think of them as teaching styles, too): authoritative, authoritarian, indulgent, and uninvolved.
If you are a parent or teacher, which style best describes you? Do you use punishment and rewards to control your kids? Do you try to be their best friend? Are you distant or spend most of your time at work or away? Are you mostly concerned about “covering the material” without connecting emotionally?
Lewis argues that an authoritative parenting style is most effective. Could you be described as a calm adult who holds kids responsible but allows them to learn from mistakes? Do you refrain from criticizing while allowing kids to experience natural consequences?
One important takeaway from examining parenting styles is that it’s okay to be our imperfect selves. When upset, we are more likely to regress to the type of parenting style we experienced, which may have been authoritarian or indulgent. If we are honest with kids, admitting that we messed up or missed what they needed, we teach them that we can learn from mistakes- and so can they. We are modeling a healthy response to imperfection.
Notice that communicating about problems is key to effective parenting and teaching. More on that next!