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The Four Parenting Styles in Passive, Assertive, and Aggressive Behaviour

Aug 17, 2007
I want to firstly clear up a major parenting misconception. There is no one right way to raise a child. As with buying a car, becoming friends with your neighbours, or hanging out your clothes to dry, there is no one correct style you need to use for raising a healthy-minded child.

There a typically four parenting styles based on parenting research:

1. low love/low limits
2. low love/high limits
3. high love/low limits
4. high love/high limits

The love and limit parenting styles deal with how the parent disciplines their child/children.

Love means the parent disciplines using love such as comforting and negotiations. While limits means the parent disciplines using either passive, assertive, or aggressive discipline.

A short example of each of these limit styles are: Passive discipline is doing nothing; Assertive discipline is addressing the problem with you and the child coming out as winners such as negotiation; Aggressive discipline can be smacking the child.

You do not necessarily have one of these four parenting styles, but these are the major four and you do use both love and limits regardless of who you are. It's about finding the right balance of love and limits that suit you and your child's situation.

If you have a high love parenting style, then you'll reason, talk, and spend more time with them.

If you have a high limit parenting style, you use your authoriative power. This is said to be more old school with techniques such as smacking and the cane. It also includes a more recommended technique, assertive communication. You attempt to establish the child's discipline based on their respect for you and your desire for them to follow rules.

Of the four parenting styles, you use the one which feels "right" in your mind.

If your parents use a more high limit style and you felt this put you inline, then its likely you'll adopt the same disciplining techniques. On the otherhand, you could use a high love style because you felt your parents were overly aggressive when they used a high limit style.

Research has concluded that using a more low love/high limit parenting style is better then a low love/low limit style as children develop poor behavioral patterns from the low discipline parenting style. It is easy on you to use the low love/low limit style because you avoid any action and possible counteracts your child may give.

In one popular episode of Dr Phil, the Doctor was trying to solve a family's disciplining problems. The mum whom he was talking to on the show had this mindset of not disciplining her children because they would perceive her in a negative light. Dr Phil got through to the mum by saying something along these lines, "That is an extremely selfish act by not disciplining your children because of their poor behaviour. You really are only caring about yourself." The mum completely agreed and began to change her behavioural disciplining style.

However, do be careful with a high limit style that moderates the child's behaviour as it is more controlling and not recommended if more assertive and loving styles can be used. No one likes to be put on a pyschological collar, dragged around, and poked by the person controlling them. Do not use unnecessary control when effective communication skills can be utilised as it erects a barrier to communication and makes the other person shut you out.

As a parent, you need to utilise a high love style while finding the right limit style. In a situation where the child is under physical danger or some other major problem could result, you may need to be aggressive. When something needs to be done such as your children are noisy and they need to go to bed, an assertive approach is recommended such as, "Your squeeling ('The why' e.g. their noise) is making a lot of noise in the house and has made me angry ('The what.' Preferrably a tangible effect for children)." Lastly a passive or low limit approach where you do nothing could be used when the child spills a drink provided it was an accident. Of course, you would clean the mess-up but you shouldn't yell or punish the child for a simple accident.

Depending on the situation, you will need to vary the limit style. There is no set style to raise a child, except to have the style of variation. Be loving and be ready to adjust your limiting style to use passive, assertive, or aggressive behavioural discipline.
About the Author
Joshua Uebergang writes a newsletter on how to communicate effectively which you can now sign up by visiting his effective communication skills site. If you'd like to develop your assertion more, check out the assertive communication and behaviour skills section.
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