10 Principles That Authoritative Parents Swear By

They are nothing like authoritarian parents.

This is part 3 of a series on parenting styles. Part 1 ishere and part 2 is here.

Remember the parent's role essayed by Anupam Kher in the movie DDLJ or the one by Kiran Kher in Hum Tum? Both of them are affectionate parents who guide their children through life. They do not lead their lives for them but are their pillars of strength. Such parents are able to bring out the best in their children. Children of such parents are confident, strong, and self-assured individuals. They are able to establish meaningful relationships in their lives.

Such parents are able to mix discipline and respect so that children have no ambiguity about how to behave.

Authoritative parents are democratic and believe that children should have a voice in what is happening in their lives. They listen to what their kids have to say. While encouraging independence, they set the limits and consequences for the actions of their children. While stating expectations for the children, these parents ensure that they don't pressurise them to perform. They motivate them so that they perform their best. These parents are warm and nurturing. They allow kids to have and express their opinions and may even allow the children to set their own rules, but will then insist that those rules be followed. They believe in administering fair and firm discipline. The emotional openness that these parents have with their kids makes it easier for children to be confident about themselves.

Such parents are able to mix discipline and respect so that children have no ambiguity about how to behave. When there is clarity of action and consequence, it's easier for children to make decisions and think on their feet. Supportive parenting styles help to foster the development of empathy in the child. Being an authoritative parent is simple.

Here are a few things that can help you to be one:

1. Praise positive behaviour

Parents usually tend to concentrate on how to remove negative behaviour from their children. Instead reinforce positive behaviour with appropriate praise and compliments. Acknowledge small tasks like setting the dining table, being handy around the house, or fixing a quick breakfast on a Sunday morning. Hand over a simple "Good Job!" and see the difference.

2. Listen before you talk

Remember all the classes you bunked at college to escape being lectured at? Your child too will run away from you if you fall into the habit of lecturing. Every good conversation starts with listening. Have conversations and not lecture sessions with your child. Understand what their issues are and then give advice or guidance.

3. Show you care

Kids need to be shown that you care about them. They crave acceptance. Talk to them. Listen to them, cuddle them, hug them, and pamper them, if needed. A little care and affection goes a long way.

4. Help kids to set their own goals

Keep the goals SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time bound). Tell them what you expect. Do not except them to understand because they are of a certain age. ("He is 7. He should know that he has to put his toys away.") How do we expect him to know when we haven't taught him? You should say, "Raj, I need you to put away your toys away in the next 10 minutes."

5. Stay calm

A calm parent raises a calm child. If you are nervous and jittery about everything, your child will imbibe the same attitude. Shouting, yelling and screaming won't help. Such behaviour only undermines the child's self-confidence and teaches him that it is okay to be violent.

6. Choose to discipline with love not punishment

As a democratic parent, give your child choices and the consequences for any course of action. Let your children learn by trial and error. Demanding a course of action and punishing them for non compliance may hurt them in the long run. They will never develop the confidence to choose between actions and bear the responsibility of its consequences.

7. Let them make their choice

If your daughter wants to skate without her safety helmet, tell her: 'It's not safe to skate without the helmet. You have a choice: you wear the helmet and have a safe evening or you do not wear it and we go back home to play cards which doesn't need a helmet.' Once you give her the choice and its consequence, your child will also understand the responsibility that comes along with it, and will slowly learn to make the right decisions.

8. Value your child's opinions and preferences

Sometimes the best ideas come from children but more often than not we are so caught up with our own lives that we don't listen to them. Discuss colours with them when you are getting your house painted. You will have a really bright house if you listen to them. Ask your children to plan out a healthy menu for the week. Children love variety and they will ensure that you have a good menu planned.

9. Remind them that they are loved

"I love you"—these three magical words are the cement of any relationship. No child ever tires of hearing that he is loved by his parents. Many Indian parents do not express this emotion. It is almost taken for granted.

10. Modify the way you speak to encourage your child

Remember that your children will rise or fail to meet your expectations for them. If you express scepticism and doubt, they will return your lack of confidence with mediocrity. But if you believe in them and expect them to do well, they will go the extra mile to do their best.

Watch this space to find out more about three other parenting styles.

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