What Kind of Parent Are You… Online?
Every child is different. Kids don’t fit in a box any more than parents fit in a box. Any parent knows that parenting styles are not exact and that there are blurred lines between parenting styles. It’s still important to think about what kind of parenting style you ascribe to. Are you the same kind of parent online that you are offline? Are you teaching online safety and behavior skills just like you teach offline safety and behavior skills?
There are Different Parenting Styles…
1. Authoritarian 2.Authoritative
3. Permissive 4.Uninvolved
Do You Know What Kind of Parenting Style You Use? Take this quiz to find out.
Authoritarian parenting uses military style parenting. “My way or the highway!”, “Because, I said so!” and “Kids are to be seen and not heard!” are expressions that describe this type of parenting. Authoritarian parenting focuses on following rules and obedience. Parents have high expectations of behavior and performance such as school grades. Strict punishment results when rules are broken or expectations aren’t met. There is little discussion or back and forth between parent and child and these kids don’t receive much in the way of affection. These parents may love their child, but they don’t show it and appear detached. Many kids raised under authoritarian rule can also face challenges with social situations, shyness and low self-esteem. “…authoritarian parenting styles often lead to children who are dependent, which produces problems such as depression, alcohol use and dependence, tobacco dependence, obesity, and eating disorders, and a negative self-concept”
Helicopter parenting falls somewhere under authoritarian parenting. This over-protective parent cares about their child, but “hovers” over their child’s every move. They are attempting to protect the child from danger, injury, prevent mistakes and make life decisions for them because they know best. They also try to correct events when they go wrong. They may talk to the teacher when their child gets a poor grade to change the grade, or call the coach when the child isn’t getting enough play time on the field. This child has little autonomy and doesn’t learn by making mistakes because they are not allowed to fail. These parents step in when it’s not necessary, and don’t seem to know how to back off and allow their child room to grow. “This constant “hovering” can cause anxiety, self-consciousness and a resistance to trying new things.”
Authoritative parenting is often thought of as the “happy medium” of parenting styles. Parents have clear expectations of age-appropriate behavior, rules of behavior and follow up with fair and even handed, consistent consequences when rules are broken. Parents are good listeners to their kid’s views and value their child’s opinion. They encourage critical thinking skills and steps towards being independent. Parents provide positive praise for appropriate, good behavior. They step in when necessary and step out of the way when they see their child behaving appropriately. They let their child make mistakes and teach them that there are consequences for behavioral actions. Studies suggest this balanced approach creates the healthiest bond between parent and child and kids are typically happier, more confident, do better in school and are less likely to act violently or engage in risky behaviors such as drug and alcohol use or sex.
Permissive Parenting: Permissive parents are warm and loving but want to be friends with their child. They allow their kids to run the show, do as they please without expectations or limits on behavior. They prefer to let their child regulate their behavior without parental interference. They are the parent that gives into their child when they demand candy bar in the grocery store or allows underage drinking by their teen in their home. They are much more responsive than they are demanding of the child. They tend to give their kids what they want and hope that they are loved for letting their kids have what they want and do what they want. They are the “cool” parent. When these kids get in trouble, there are little or no consequences.
Uninvolved Parenting speaks for itself. They are disengaged and emotionally unavailable to their children showing little warmth, love or affection. They provide little to no supervision or guidance. They often are overwhelmed by their own problems and concerns leaving little time or emotional energy to deal with children and their issues. The child is left to fend for themselves and grow up without parental guidance, love and support. These kids often suffer severe long term consequences.
Parenting Differs as Kids Get Older
How you parent for a young child is going to be different from how you parent a teen. There can be blurred lines between parenting styles. One size does not fit all. Parents need to be helicopter parents for young children to keep them safe from sticking curious fingers in electric outlets for example. But as the child grows, so goes parenting – we hope. Becoming an authoritative parent is a process. Being observant and aware of their child, who they are as a person, what they’re doing and how they’re behaving are important features of being a good parent. Being warm and loving, having open honest communication between you and your child, setting and reviewing clear expectations of behavior and having fair, consistent consequences for behavior that goes awry seem to be hallmarks of positive parenting skills. “Parenting is a balance between stepping in and stepping out with guidance, support and structure based on cues from kids.” This is absolutely true in your child’s online world as well.
In Today’s Digital World, What Kind of Parent Do You Want To Be?
How Can You Be An Authoritative Parent in Your Child’s Online World?
- Inform yourself about the online world that your child is engaging with. Be an aware, involved parent. Know the online risks. Think about age appropriate activity online. Is your child using a social network or app that’s for 13 year old’s? Learn about the websites your child is visiting, the games they’re playing, who they’re engaging with online.
- Set clear expectations of online actions and behavior go over a set of rules and consequences for breaking your rules.
- Check in and monitor your child’s online actions and behavior to make sure that your child is following your rules and expectations online. Do they behave one way offline and a different way online? Could they be a cyberbully? Are they visiting pro-anorexia sites? If you’re not checking-in there is no way to know. The goal is for you to teach appropriate online behavior and online safety skills along the path to becoming independent digital citizens. This doesn’t mean being a helicopter parent. If your child is behaving according to your expectations and rules of behavior, you can back off and check in less frequently, and eventually not at all. Isn’t that the goal after all, to teach our kids to use critical thinking skills, self-regulate and become independent adults?
- If you are concerned about their behavior or actions online, talk to your child or get some help from outside sources if necessary, such as your pediatrician or a school counselor.
- If your child breaks your rules make sure that you follow up with the consequences that you have discussed with your child. If that means taking computer or smartphone privileges away for a period of time or limiting service to you and emergency calls… then do it. Keep in mind that if they make a mistake, it’s not the end of the world. All kids make mistakes… sometimes incredibly dumb mistakes. It’s an opportunity to teach your child!
- Praise your child when they use the internet safely, appropriately and exhibit positive behavior online. Step in when necessary and be involved, and step out when they are showing you that they are being responsible digital citizens.