From the ages of two to four, your child will be embarking on a journey of physical, mental, and emotional change that will begin to define their personalities, likes and dislikes, attitudes, and behaviors. It is an exciting and frequently nerve-wracking time for parents, especially since such high emphasis is placed on parenting properly. Fortunately, the guides at Gladwyne Montessori have a successful curriculum for 2-year-olds from Haverford and the surrounding communities, and many of their teaching strategies and styles can easily double as parenting techniques to help you raise your child into a well-adjusted, independent, and emotionally-secure person.
Research suggests that helping your child too much can actually be a hindrance to his or her development, leading to concentration and dependence issues; however, not helping at all can provide its own set of developmental problems. So what parenting style will work best for your preschool-aged child?
In answering that loaded question, an exploration of existing parenting styles is needed. Four approaches to parenting drive the foundation, and they are based on two sets of dimensions: parental warmth and parental control. Warmth is related to affection and acceptance of the child, while control is related to promoting respect for and adherence to rules and conventions. Below are the characteristics and child outcomes that define each of the four different parenting styles:
Low Control/Low Warmth: Neglectful
Seemingly uninterested in being a parent, undemanding, unresponsive.
Children of uninvolved parents show high sensitivity to rejection and high levels of externalizing behaviors. They are more independent, but more aggressive, untrusting, and attention-deficient.
Low Control/High Warmth: Permissive
Relaxed discipline, fewer rules, and minimal expectations and guidance.
Permissive parents act more like friends to their children and are frequently uninvolved and undemanding. Children of permissive parents exhibit low social competence and academic achievement as well as bossy, impulsive, and highly-dependent behavior.
High Control/Low Warmth: Authoritarian
Strict discipline, frequent punishment, and one-sided communication.
Children of authoritarian parents frequently exhibit signs of rebelliousness, hostility, delinquency, antisocial behavior, and anxiety. Too much control without nurturing means lower autonomy and emotional confinement.
High Control/High Warmth: Authoritative
Reasonable and nurturing behavior, with high expectations and exceptional communication. Children of authoritative parents are associated with high competence levels, maturity, confidence, and self-control.
The authoritative strategy is often regarded as the most effective style, but it is also the most demanding on the parent in terms of energy and time. Below are suggestions to try at home to emulate the “high control/high warmth” style:
- Create and Uphold Limits and Boundaries - Be kind, yet firm, and open up a dialogue about rules, boundaries, and expectations. Expect that your child will test those limits, so stay consistent.
- Natural Consequences - Limit choices to two, show emotional control, focus on the solution, and toe the line between teaching and rescuing.
- Positive Language and Redirection - Tell your child what you want, practice patience and repetition, and try to work positivity into your words.
- Routine and Structure - Structure and organization bring security. Be in charge and use family meetings to discuss rules, give compliments and constructive criticism, and have fun!
It is essential to play both sides of the coin to be a great parent to preschool-aged children. Asserting authority while also showing love, affection, and involvement in your child’s life is a delicate balance but can be achieved to best serve your child and your family. At Gladwyne Montessori, we utilize the same strategies to give your child an exceptional education and reinforce the caring and organized parenting you provide at home. For more information on parenting strategies or the benefits of a Montessori education, contact us today!