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DISCIPLING YOUR KIDS- WHAT'S THE WAY FORWARD?

Parenting Parenting also known as child rearing is the process of taking care of children until they are old enough. It involves promoting and supporting the physical, emotional, social and intellectual development of a child from infancy to adulthood. Developmental psychologists observed that children who are raised up in the same environment and grow up to have different personalities form each other. Likewise children who have different upbringing can grow up to be similar in character (Kendra). Therefore, it was difficult to determine the consequences of parental actions on childrens behaviors. A research study of 9000 UK households found that while family structure and parent income impacted on childrens development. The research showed that children form wealthy families were more likely to succeed than poor kids; however, when parental styles were tested, the difference between children from both social classes was insignificant (Grose). This suggested that parental style was most influential on kids. In the early 1960's, psychologist Diana Baumrind identified four important dimensions of parenting to include: disciplinary strategies; warmth and nurturance; communication styles and expectations of maturity and control. Based on these findings, she suggested that majority of parents display one

of three different parenting styles as discussed below: Authoritarian parenting styles: these group of parents are demanding but unresponsive to their children's needs and wants. They believe in shaping their children's behaviors to conform to their set rules. They expect their children to obey without questioning. Children of authoritarian parents are usually moody, fearful, withdrawn and irritable. It is believed that authoritarian parents tend to promote rebellion and resentment in their kids as the children may never learn how to control their own behaviors since conformity is based on external controls.

Permissive parenting: they are warm, responsive, accepting and sensitive to their children and seldom punish their children. Sometimes they are also unresponsive and uncontrolling; lack of involvement can lead to child neglect. Children of permissive parents tends to be more cheerful, immature, and impulsive. These children have low expectations and may never learn selfcontrol. Authoritative parenting: this group of parents are warm, responsive and involved with their children. They expect their children to be responsive to their standards of mature and ageappropriate behavior. There is a considerable give-and-take between parents; a term referred to as reciprocal responsibility. Children of authoritative parents are cheerful, socially competent, energetic and friendly. They have high levels of self-esteem, self-control and self-reliance (Hockenbury and Hockenbury, 402).

Although, most parents tend to practice a combination of several parenting styles (Lloyd). But of all the parenting styles, experts believe that the authoritative parenting style is the best approach to raising emotionally stable and academically strong children But how much of discipline can we impact?

How do we really discipline our children without leaving indelible consequences in their lives? How far should tough love really go?

Parenting Styles And Discipline

A major challenge facing discipline is that of enforcing rules. Parents discipline their kids using series of strategies which can be classified into:

1. Power assertion: use of physical violence and physical assault (e.g. corporal punishment) to change the child's behavior.

2. Love withdrawal:

involves physiological aggression (e.g., parents belittling their kids),

ignoring, isolating or stating a direct dislike for the child to bring about behavioral change.

3. Induction: also known as a democratic form of discipline in which parents communicate explanation for their rules and set standards that the child must obey (Barnett et al, 411 and Renk et al, 74).

Corporal punishment is "the use of physical force with the intention of causing the child pain, but not pain, for the purposes of correction or control of the child's behavior" (Straus, 4). Most available research shows that there is hardly any positive effect of corporal punishment. Rather, CP is proposed to be the cause of external behavioral problems like aggression (McKinney, 465) and internal behavioral problems like depression and lower self-esteem (Mulvaney and Mulbert, 389). Counter to these findings, harsh discipline which involves CP would not lead to these negative effects if they are reinforced with parental love and warmth (Mckee et al, 187; Child Law Practice, 110).

In addition to the use of harsh discipline, parents adopt some psychological control strategies to change the behavior of their children and adolescents (McKinney, 465). Menzaske and Stright (224) examined the roles of physiological control (i.e., expressing disapproval) and behavioral control (use of sanctions i.e., punishments and rewards). They concluded that behavioral control led to positive emotional and behavioral adjustments while high levels of psychological control caused low self-esteem, depression and anxiety in children. But Renk et al (75) believe that if parents are inconsistent in meting out punishments, children are more than likely to exhibit aggressive behaviors. Hence, aggressive behaviors can be effectively overcome by continuous punishment rather intermittent punishment.

Unlike other disciplinary strategies discussed above, the inductive discipline aims at avoiding "power battles or other forms of physical interactions when discipling children" (McKinney, 465). Works of Petitt et al (914) showed that children's externalizing and internalizing problems are best prevented if parents adopted the inductive discipline strategy. They believe that parentalchildren discussion gave children a sense of respect for contrasting perspectives and a belief that disputes could be amicably resolved. Furthermore, Krevans and Gibbs (3263) observed that children of inductive parents were more empathic and prosocial compared to children that were subjected to power assertion. Research of Labile et al (875) concluded that inductive discipline is critical to both empathy and guilt formation in children.

Relationship Between Parenting Styles And Discipline

There seems to be a noticeable connection between parenting and disciplinary strategies. Fletcher et al (3) showed that children of authoritative parents, who use less punitive and inconsistent discipline, are more likely to be obedient to set rules. While authoritarians use harsh disciplinary methods, permissive parents use inconsistent discipline strategies due to their likelihood to yield to their children's demands. In conclusion, a nurturing and demanding parenting style with an inductive disciplinary strategy would be most ideal in bringing up a child. A mixture of discipline and warmth is the recipe for success.

SOURCES CITED Micheal Grose. A parents guide to tough love. http://www.bodyandsoul.com.au/pregnancy+parenting/parenting+tips/a+parents+guide+to+toug h+love,8199 Carol Llyod. Whats your parenting style? http://www.greatschools.org/printview/parenting/behavior-discipline/slideshows/6407-parenting-styles-authoritarian-authoritativepermissive-handsoff.gs Kendra Cherry. Parenting http://psychology.about.com/od/developmentalpsychology/a/parenting-style.htm Styles.

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Manzeske D.P and Stright A.D. Parenting styles and emotion regulation: the roles of behavioral and psychological control during young adulthood. J Adult Dev 16:223229. Mulvaney, M.K., and Mebert, C.J. parental corporal punishment predicts behavior problems in early childhood. Journal of family psychology 21(3): 389-397. McKee. L, Roland. E, Coffelt .N, Olsen. A, Forehand. R, Massari. C. Harsh discipline and child problem behaviors: the roles of positive parenting and gender. J Fam Violence 22:187196. Hockenbury and Hockenbury (402). Psychology. New York: Worth Publishers.