Stare into the face of your charming, exceptionally bright 3-year-old daughter and try to imagine she's now a grade-schooler. She just came home with a “B” in math on her report card. Would you: A) Tell her, “A B is fine, honey; we know you tried your best. Let’s go get ice cream.” B) Tell her, “We are very disappointed that you didn’t get an A. We know you can do better, and we’re going to work with you to raise that grade.” C) Tell her, “You are a failure. In this house, a B is unacceptable. You are grounded indefinitely, and all of your activities will be suspended until you improve your grade.” If you chose “B” as your answer, you most likely are what is known as a strict parent or, if you want to get fancy, an “authoritative” parent. (This is not to be confused with “authoritarian” parents, who, like the “C” example above, focus on shaming, harsh discipline, and the withholding of affection.) While, like snowflakes, no two parenting styles are exactly alike, there are a few common denominators (math pun intended) when it comes to raising children. From the time their children are very young, authoritative parents tend to focus on high standards and firm discipline--but still provide nurture and warmth--while permissive parents tend to rebuff structure and allow their children the freedom to choose. Despite the fact that your children may eventually call you a “meanie” or “unfair” for enforcing high expectations, strict parenting has a number of advantages.
According to research, children with authoritative parents tend to excel in school. This is because from the time their children are toddlers and preschoolers, strict parents emphasize high standards, especially when it comes to academics. Whether their children are learning shapes and colors or their ABCs, parents who continuously reinforce the importance of academic excellence--and discipline their children when they don’t measure up--tend to have children who study more as they enter school. In other words, children with strict parents don’t want to disappoint mom and dad, so they learn from the time they are knee-high to a grasshopper to work harder than the children of permissive parents.
Children who are raised by strict parents tend to grow into teenagers and adults who practice self-control. This is because strict parents tend to immediately correct and dole out consequences for inappropriate behavior. Strict parents do not let their kids of any age get away with bad behavior, and they teach their children at a young age the difference between right and wrong. This means that they’ll behave better, whether they're at home or out and about, so no more whining over being bored at Aunt Louise’s house and no more meltdowns over wanting the latest gadget from the toy store.
Ah, peer pressure. Unless you grew up in a cave in the Igikpak mountains, you experienced your fair share of peer pressure as a child. Experts say that children experience their first bouts of peer pressure during their preschool years and that it will become more intense as they mature. Children who grow up with strict parents, however, are less likely to succumb to it. Why? Well, because of their focus on work ethic and discipline, strict parents instill a sense of confidence and independence in their chidren. In addition, the children of strict parents are more influenced by their parents versus their peers, meaning that when they finally hit those dreaded middle school years, they will be more likely to stay away from risky behaviors. Score one for mom and dad!
Research shows that the children of authoritative parents tend to be more considerate, helpful and friendly than their peers, even as young children. As toddlers, they are taught to be empathetic and, as they grow, they tend be more socially adept than the children of permissive parents. While the children of permissive parents are more likely to become anti-social because of the lack of focus on structure and discipline, the children of strict parents grow up to understand the connection between freedom and responsibility, and the reasons for rules. This makes them more adaptable in social situations, whether at school, on a sport, or later on, at work.
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