Is Your Parenting Style Making Kids Mentally Strong or Weak

Is Your Parenting Style Making Kids Mentally Strong or Weak?

Excerpted from Raising Mentally Strong Kids, by Daniel Amen, MD, and Charles Fay, PhD

Do you love your children and want to be an involved parent? Of course, you do! That’s why you’re reading this blog. But not all parents are alike. Some parenting styles make it harder to achieve the goals you have for yourself and your child—contributing to lack of motivation, neediness, feelings of entitlement, or feelings of anxiety.

Other parenting styles facilitate the process of raising young people who are competent, and even better, allow us to enjoy our kids more in the present moment. If you want to get on the fast track to fun times and a brighter future, you need to take an honest look at yourself. You may unknowingly be making parenting harder than it needs to be.

Some parenting styles make it harder to achieve the goals you have for yourself and your child—contributing to lack of motivation, neediness, feelings of entitlement, or feelings of anxiety. Others facilitate the process. Click To Tweet

WHAT’S YOUR PARENTING STYLE?

You likely fall into one of four main parenting styles. Before we dive into the four styles, understand that your parenting style usually comes from several factors, including:

  • What your parents or caregivers modeled
  • Other parents you admired
  • Cultural influences
  • Your brain health and mental wellness

You may feel comfortable with your current style, or perhaps it isn’t working well enough for you. The good news is, you can fine-tune your style to be a more effective parent, so you can raise resilient, responsible, respectful kids.

Decades of research beginning with the work of clinical and developmental psychologist Diana Baumrind in the 1960s show that parenting styles can be viewed along two lines: from loving to hostile and from firm to permissive.

  • Loving: I am rooting for my child to succeed and have deep empathy and compassion for them.
  • Hostile: I demand you do things my way and will punish you for mistakes.
  • Firm: When I say something, I mean it, and I will back it up.
  • Permissive: I will clean up my child’s mistakes.

Jim Fay and Foster Cline, MD, describe three styles:

  • Helicopters: This most closely matches the Loving and Permissive style.
  • Drill Sergeants: These are the parents who are Firm yet Hostile.
  • Consultants: These parents are Loving and Firm. They also empower their children to take responsibility for their decisions.

We also include a fourth style:

  • Uninvolved: These parents are both Hostile and Permissive.

WHAT IS THE HELICOPTER PARENTING STYLE?

What is a helicopter parent? The helicopter parenting style describes those parents who are loving and permissive. They often seem sweet and kind to their children and give them anything they want. They are reluctant to challenge or frustrate their children.

Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it? Protect your children. Make life as easy and smooth as possible. The problem occurs when permissive parenting means they give in to their child’s every whim. Their overall goal is to create a perfect world for their kids.

SIGNS AND CONSEQUENCES OF HELICOPTER PARENTING

  • Rescue children when rescue is not needed
  • Send this message to their kids: “You are weak and incapable. That’s why I need to protect and rescue you from the world.”
  • Create kids who are irresponsible, incapable, and often resentful
  • Experience massive parenting burnout
  • Parent from the limbic system (the brain’s emotional centers) rather than from the prefrontal cortex (the brain’s CEO in charge of executive functions and logical thinking)
  • Fail to consistently support the Four Circles of Mental Strength (biological, psychological, social, and spiritual) in themselves and their children throughout their lifetime
  • Make most of their parenting decisions out of fear 

WHAT IS DRILL SERGEANT PARENTING?

A Drill Sergeant parent is hostile and firm. Drill Sergeant parents value the role of authority and rules and tend to be rigid and inflexible. Parents who use this style with kids create major heartache. They were either raised this way themselves or feel like it’s the best way to raise responsible and respectful children.

The brain-imaging work at Amen Clinics shows that people with the Drill Sergeant parenting style may have overactivity in an area of the brain called the anterior cingulate gyrus (ACG). This can cause people to get stuck on worries or behaviors that aren’t helpful. People with this authoritarian parenting style also have a tendency to be argumentative and oppositional.

SIGNS AND CONSEQUENCES OF DRILL SERGEANT PARENTING

  • Bark orders, deliver orders in a gentle tone, or micromanage
  • Send “you-can’t-think” messages
  • Create kids who are irresponsible, incapable, and often resentful
  • Often fall into a Guilt Cycle of berating and then rescuing
  • Experience massive parenting burnout
  • Parent from the limbic system (the brain’s emotional centers) rather than from the prefrontal cortex (the brain’s CEO in charge of executive functions and logical thinking)
  • Fail to consistently support the Four Circles of Mental Strength (biological, psychological, social, and spiritual) in themselves and their children
  • Make most of their parenting decisions out of fear masked as anger or an overly controlling nature

WHAT IS UNINVOLVED PARENTING?

Uninvolved parents are hostile and permissive. To put it simply, these are the parents who do not care. They are usually overwhelmed in their own lives—they may have had a head injury, drank too much, or experienced trauma—all of which can negatively impact brain function.

Considering that you are reading this blog, it’s clear that you don’t likely fit into the Uninvolved parenting style, so we won’t delve deeply into this parenting style.

 WHAT IS CONSULTANT PARENTING?

Welcome to the wonderful world of the firm and loving Consultant parent! Helicopter parents and Drill Sergeant parents expend so much effort that ends up leading to burnout and harmful results. The Consultant parenting style requires less effort but makes it so much easier to reach the goals you have for yourself and your child.

It also smooths your child’s transition to being a competent and confident adult. In addition, it lets you all have a lot more fun along the journey. 

SIGNS AND BENEFITS OF CONSULTANT PARENTING

  • Rescue or micromanage only when absolutely necessary
  • Allow their children to make affordable mistakes
  • Send healthy and empowering messages to their kids
  • Create adults who are responsible, capable, and optimistic
  • Guide their children to own and solve the problems they encounter
  • Focus mostly on strengths and successes
  • Feel energized and find joy in parenting
  • Parent from the prefrontal cortex (the brain’s CEO in charge of executive functions, focus, goals, and logical thinking) as well as the limbic system (the brain’s emotional centers) in terms of bonding but not out of fear
  • Work on attachment with time and listening, and thus create positive lifelong relationships
  • Support the Four Circles of Mental Strength (biological, psychological, social, and spiritual) in themselves and their children
  • Make decisions based on solid science and healthy common sense rather than their own emotional needs

RAISING MENTALLY STRONG KIDS

You will find much more about parenting styles and how they affect your child in the book Raising Mentally Strong Kids.

In the book, Raising Mentally Strong Kids, brain and mental health expert Dr. Daniel Amen and child psychologist Dr. Charles Fay have teamed up to reveal what’s missing from most parenting books. It’s the fact that you need to address both the brain and the mind of your child (and yourself) in order to be an effective parent and raise competent humans.

In this groundbreaking, science-backed book where neuroscience meets practical psychology, parents are given proven tools to help children of all ages go from defiance, meltdowns, and power struggles to being responsible, resilient, and confident. Order your copy now and put your child on the path to a brighter future.

If you want to join the tens of thousands of parents and children who have already learned how to be mentally stronger at Amen Clinics, speak to a specialist today at 888-288-9834 or visit our contact page here.  

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