The Basics of Flexible Parenting Style

Everything in life requires balance, including parenting. The most common parenting styles are:

  • Authoritarian: The do-as-you-are-told style
  • Authoritative: A healthy balance between permissive and authoritarian parenting
  • Permissive: Overly indulgent with few rules and boundaries
  • Uninvolved: Totally uninvolved in the child’s upbringing

An authoritative style, which is a perfect mix of authoritarian and permissive, is the ideal option, but striking a balance is often one of the hardest things to do. Yet, walking that path is beneficial to both parent and child.

No one is perfect. So the key is being a good enough parent. Authoritative parents often exhibit these characteristics:

  • Putting a lot of effort into maintaining a positive relationship with their child
  • Explaining the rationale behind the rules and decisions
  • Expecting the child to play by the rules, taking the child’s feelings into consideration

Various facets of a child’s life in which balance is vital include:

  1. Routine and Spontaneity:

Having a set routine can make a child feel secure. If they go to bed regularly at a set time, they tend to sleep better. However, being spontaneous brings its own share of fun and new experiences. So a different routine during the holidays helps them cope with change and also keeps things interesting. The odd late night or change in plans will help the child cope with the unexpected.

That said, being overly flexible with sleep patterns must be avoided, as sleep has a bearing on mental well-being.

  1. Sufficient Outdoor Time:

The majority of children spend a significant amount of time indoors. Encouraging outdoor activities gives them the opportunity to:

  • Experience unpredictability
  • Learn through risk-taking
  • Work towards developing confidence
  • Reduce stress by releasing any pent-up emotions via physical activities 

Lack of sufficient physical activity can cause restlessness and irritability.

  1. Academic Demands:

There is always some pressure on children to perform well academically, which often comes at the cost of fun and unplanned activities. But fun activities often work to de-stress from the mounting demands placed by educational institutions. 

Constant pressure for better grades can cause exhaustion, anxiety, disruption of sleep patterns, etc. Thus, consistently scheduling every minute of a child’s day can have detrimental consequences in the long run.

  • Proper Use of Technology:

Excessive use of technology has its dangers. There are many undesirable side effects of the extended use of electronic gadgets, some of which are:

  • It leaves fewer opportunities for socially interacting with people, and an inability to make friends.  
  • Reduces time that the child could spend being physically active.
  • Short-term rewards offered by computer games and media are short-lived, making the child less patient with rewards, which encourages the unhealthy desire for quick gratification.

Benefits of Flexible Parenting:

  • Practicing the concept of ‘agree to disagree’ with kids shows that their opinions matter and encourages independent thinking even though others may not always share their opinions.
  •  When mistakes are viewed as problems that can be solved, making mistakes is acceptable, which is a mighty relief in the growing-up years.
  • When parents teach their children instead of attempting to control them, it gives them a feeling of empowerment instead of helplessness.
  • When they face the consequences of their actions, rather than being insulated from them, they learn to make better choices.
  • When parents work to solve problems with their kids, the children learn to solve problems themselves
  • When parents strike compromises with their children, the children learn to be flexible with others
  • When parents give their kids second chances, the children know that their parents have faith in their ability to learn from their mistakes.

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