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by Esther Lai

Does our parenting style matter? Research shows that the way we interact with our children has a profound impact on how they get on in life. Some even say that it can affect everything from how much your child weighs to how she feels about herself. According to Psychologist Diane Baumrind, there are four types of parenting styles:





Let’s take a look at some characteristics of these parenting styles and their outcomes.



  • Disciplinarian parenting

  • All about rules

  • No warmth

  • "Do as I say"

  • Demands obedience


  • Children may appear well behaved and goal oriented but likely driven by fear and not self-control

  • Self-esteem problems

  • Less self-reliant

  • Less socially competent

  • More aggressive

  • More vulnerable to depression



  • Unavailable physically or emotionally

  • No time for children

  • Little/no attention given to children

  • No guidance

  • May compensate by giving gifts


  • Children have excessive freedom

  • Low nurturance

  • Limited communication

  • Feels rejected

  • More aggressive

  • Delinquent behaviours

  • Attention problems

  • Less effective in coping with problems




  • Free-for-all parenting

  • Treats children as equal

  • Little or no rules

  • Warm and nurturing

  • Not willing to impose consequences


  • Children are more creative and free-thinking

  • Less or no conflict

  • Loss of control

  • Lack of motivation

  • No rules, no limits

  • Power struggle once parents try to make a change



  • Define limits for children

  • Are good role models

  • Warm and nurturing

  • Praise and encourage children

  • Have reasonable expectations

  • Set consistent boundaries



  • Children are more empathetic

  • Good self-esteem

  • More confident

  • More competent

  • More pro-social

  • Better parent-child connection

Can you identify some of these traits in your parenting style?  Often, the parent-child relationship can exert an influence over our parenting style. For example, when a child is perceived to be difficult, the parents may lean towards practising a more authoritarian parenting style.

Research indicates that a child raised by a parent who exert strict psychological control tends to be especially vulnerable to emotionally abusive partners. Although this effect can be offset by emotional warmth from the other parent.  

Researchers also found higher levels of oppositional behaviours in children raised in homes with little warmth. They found that physically aggressive parenting was linked to child aggression.

 Time to make a change? 

Whilst we may disagree on what is “good” or “bad” parenting, most of us have both positive and negative parenting traits. If you are looking to changing your parenting style, here are some tips for a good start:

  • Choose to remain calm when you are upset 

  • Begin to notice and praise good deeds  

  • Provide guidance and reduce criticism 

  • Identify the underlying needs behind the undesirable behavior

 Be a Supportive Parent 

As parents, even with the best intentions, we tend to use the word "No" very often which can be frustrating and disempowering for the child. Certainly, there are times when we do have to say "No",  especially where there are immediate health and safety concerns. But we sometimes get into the habit of telling our children “No” that it becomes an automatic response:

“Can I have….” “No” 
“Can we go….” “No” 
“Will you read….” “Wait”

Choose instead to be a consciously supportive parent. Create a “Yes” environment to elicit children’s co-operation.

 Creating a “Yes” environment 

  • Set up a safe play area for your kids. Keep your expensive glass cabinet in a corner or space where children are less likely to bump into. Things that are out-of-bounds for children should not be easily accessible to them. This way, you can supervise them without stressing yourself out.

  • Draw up a daily schedule for kids so that they know when to do what. This saves you a lot of unnecessary negotiation on time to work and time to play. Instead of writing them, you can print out tasks on cards and upon completion, the kids can deposit them into an “I did it!” box.

  • Introduce a routine for bed-time/bath-time. My boys grew up with a bedtime routine of brushing their teeth, changing into their jammies and getting ready for a half-an-hour story-telling at about the same time (almost) every night. Sometimes we would even make up our own stories. No bedtime struggles plus a good routine like this will help them sleep better, maintain good oral hygiene and promote their cognitive and language development at the same time.Put some fun into bath-time. Give your child a plastic toy to bring into his bathtub and teach him how to clean up the little elephant - look out for under the arms, behind the ears etc.Now then, you get both a clean boy and a clean toy!

  • Say “Yes” more often. “Yes” gives your “No”s some legitimacy.
    “Yes, you may visit Josh if you can play nicely and be back home on time”
    “Yes, you may go to the playground after you finish your assignments”
    “Yes, you may stay over at the chalet when you show me that you can behave responsibly when you are with your friends”

 Take Heart 

Parenting is a huge responsibility - it requires patience, consistency, love, compassion, and understanding. We want so much and try so hard to do the best for our children. But hey, every day is a chance to start afresh. Stop worrying, and start enjoying your parenting (while you can!). Your kids will only be this age once, and like everything else, this phase too will pass.

Note from Editor:
“Dinner Time” is a series of video that feature families, their kids and our volunteer moderator sharing about topics related to parenting and family life.  Click here to view the video where Esther shared her parenting styles with other trainers in this series.

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