When it comes to parenting, there is no one size fits all way to approach it. Everyone has a different parenting style, and this can greatly influence children as they grow up, all the way into adulthood. However, it is essential to take note of how each parenting style affects a child’s development. The way children are raised can affect their esteem, social behavior, and overall mental well-being. Learning about healthy and effective parenting styles can help.
One parenting style, in particular, has caught the attention of researchers and parents alike in recent years: positive parenting. Here, we’ll discuss what this type of parenting entails and its effects on a child’s mental health.
In This Article
Defining positive parenting
Positive parenting is a parenting style that favors positive interactions over harsh punishment. Parents who adopt this method of parenting strive to meet their children’s needs through positive experiences. This can lead to the prevention of unwanted or “bad” behavior in children. This type of parenting also focuses on teaching good behavior using kind but firm parenting techniques.
One study on positive parenting sought to identify the key constructs and come up with a clearer definition of the parenting style. According to this study [*], “Positive parenting is the continual relationship of a parent(s) and a child or children that includes caring, teaching, leading, communicating, and providing for the needs of a child consistently and unconditionally.”
Positive parenting styles
Positive parenting is also popularly known as the authoritative parenting style, which is characterized by warmth yet remains firm and assertive. It is also described as responsive and supportive rather than demanding and punitive. One particular category of the positive parenting style is known as developmental parenting, which promotes child development through affection, responsiveness, encouragement, and teaching.
This parenting style leads to the development of healthy and happy children who have a sense of autonomy. Parents can do this by acting as positive role models, helping children with emotional expression and control, communicating clear rules and expectations, and prioritizing positive family experiences.
An aspect of parenting styles that has a great effect on mental health is discipline. Positive parenting seeks to do away with aggressive, critical, or punitive forms of discipline, such as physical punishment. Instead, positive discipline remains kind yet firm, protects a child’s sense of belonging and significance, and helps children recognize their capabilities. This disciplinary approach works long-term and can teach children valuable social and life skills.
Positive parenting and child development
Before we dive into the relationship between positive parenting and mental health, it is important to understand how this parenting style affects child development.
Research has shown that positive parenting, which is characterized by positive affect and sensitivity, can lower a child’s temperamental risk factors. This leads to the development of self-regulation [*], defined as the ability to control emotions or behaviors when challenged. When children develop the skills to self-regulate, they are more able to achieve positive developmental outcomes, especially in the face of environmental challenges and adversities.
Self-regulation in children is just one aspect of child development that positive parenting has influenced in a useful way. There are many other ways in which positive parenting can contribute to the growth and development of children.
Positive parenting can improve a child’s problem-solving skills. It also promotes good relationships between children and their caregivers as well as their peers. Using this parenting style boosts confidence and self-esteem in children while teaching them accountability and responsibility.
When good outcomes result from a child’s development, they are more likely to lead lives that are balanced and fulfilling. Healthy child development also contributes to better mental well-being.
Positive parenting and children’s mental health
The benefits that children receive developmentally from positive parenting entail better mental health outcomes as well. Numerous studies have shown that there is a strong relationship between parenting styles and mental health outcomes in children.
One particular study [*] explored mental health and found that how adolescents perceived parenting practices affected their mental health in several ways. More specifically, negative parenting led to more mental health issues while positive parenting was associated with lower levels of anxiety, depression, aggression, higher self-esteem, future optimism, and school satisfaction. If you are unsure about whether your child is experiencing depression, then it can help to check depression worksheets for guidance.
It is also helpful to refer to studies that aim to explore what happens when positive parenting techniques are not used. Research [*] has found that poor parenting environments can lead to inflexibility and even avoidance of self-regulatory strategies for adolescents. More specifically, low warmth and high control parenting styles lead to low psychological flexibility. Positive parenting, on the other hand, places emphasis on more warmth, resulting in high psychological flexibility.
Psychological flexibility is important for overall mental health because it allows individuals (in this case, children) to cope with changes in circumstances in healthy ways. Children who demonstrate psychological flexibility can also tackle problems and tasks in more creative ways, which is especially useful during stressful circumstances.
Aside from improved psychological flexibility and lower levels of anxiety and depression, there are other mental health benefits of positive parenting, including the following:
- Increased motivation and optimism
- Better psychosocial functioning and cognitive development
- Easier school adjustment
- Improved attachment security
- Reduced behavioral problems
- Decreased family conflict and stress
- Increased skills and school achievement
- Improved ability to resist negative peer influences for adolescents
Positive parenting has gotten a lot of attention again these days, and for good reason: it benefits not just children, but parents too.
It allows parents to approach parenting with optimism, ultimately leading to healthy development and better mental health for the children. This parenting style is more effective than authoritarian or permissive approaches and can help kids have more confidence, fewer behavioral problems, and increased skills and achievement.
Overall, positive parenting is effective and helpful for all involved.