Does your parenting style endanger the mental health of your children? - Hindustan Times

Does your parenting style endanger the mental health of your children?

ByZarafshan Shiraz, New Delhi
Sep 09, 2023 02:30 PM IST

Experts reveal a few habitual parenting styles that can affect a child's mental health

Parenting style is crucial as a child develops, it moulds them into the person they become but unfortunately, most parents have no template for parenting style, apart from their own parents. This is how generational trauma gets passed on from generation to generation.

Does your parenting style endanger the mental health of your children? (Photo by charlesdeluvio on Unsplash)
Does your parenting style endanger the mental health of your children? (Photo by charlesdeluvio on Unsplash)

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Ashdin Doctor, Habit Coach and Author, asserted that over time our parenting styles become habits and we do not realise that we are doing them so, in order to change them we have to become aware of them. According to him, following are a few habitual parenting styles that can affect a child's mental health -

  • Excessive Criticism: Constantly telling the child no. Don’t do this, do that. Calling the child names like “idiot or stupid”. This creates a very low self-image for the child. They grow up questioning their decisions, sometimes being incapable of taking decisions. They grow up apologizing constantly. Not knowing when the next verbal lashing is coming, makes them grow up with anxiety.
  • Withholding love as a form of punishment: When the child does something wrong and the parent ignores the child. Give the child a cold shoulder. The child interprets it as it is not worthy of love. And then constantly tries to please the parent to get that love. This becomes people-pleasing behaviour as an adult. They value themselves less, they become door mats.
  • Over controlling and overprotective: Not allowing the child to make decisions for themselves. Not giving the child the freedom to experiment and make mistakes. This destroys the child’s independence. It damages their problem-solving skills and makes them mentally fragile. This leads to anxiety and dependency issues.

Archana Singhal, Certified Counsellor and Family Therapist, shared, “Parenting styles indeed play a crucial role in shaping a child's psychological development and future mental health outcomes. Numerous research studies have explored the relationship between parenting styles and their effects on children's emotional well-being.” She elaborated -

1. Authoritative Parenting: Authoritative parenting as a positive approach for children's mental health. This parenting style, characterized by warmth, responsiveness, and reasonable expectations, creates a nurturing and supportive environment. Children raised by authoritative parents tend to develop higher self-esteem, better emotional regulation skills and a stronger sense of autonomy. The open communication and healthy boundaries fostered by authoritative parents contribute to improved mental health outcomes in their children.

The potential risks associated with authoritarian parenting. This style focuses on strict rules, control, and limited emotional responsiveness, which may lead to negative mental health outcomes in children. Fear, anxiety, and low self-esteem may result from an emphasis on obedience and discipline over emotional connection. Children raised under authoritarian parenting might face challenges in expressing their emotions freely and building healthy relationships due to trust issues.

2. Permissive Parenting: The adverse effects of permissive parenting on children's mental health. While children may feel loved and cherished under this parenting style, they may struggle with managing impulses, making responsible decisions and handling frustration due to the lack of structure and boundaries. Behavioural problems and difficulties in managing stressful situations can arise from this permissive approach.

3. Neglectful Parenting: The detrimental impact of neglectful parenting on a child's mental health. Emotional neglect and a lack of validation in neglectful parenting can lead to feelings of worthlessness and insecurity in children. This parenting style significantly increases the risk of mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, and attachment disorders.

Archana Singhal advised, “It is essential to recognise that parenting styles are not rigid categories and many parents exhibit a combination of different styles based on various situations. Moreover, individual children may respond differently to the same parenting style due to their unique temperaments and environmental influences. To promote positive mental health in children, it is recommended adopting an authoritative parenting approach that balances warmth, support and reasonable expectations. Building a strong emotional connection with children, actively listening to their feelings, and providing a secure and nurturing environment are crucial for fostering their mental well-being.”

Understanding these dynamics can empower caregivers to make informed decisions that create a positive and nurturing environment, supporting their children's emotional development and overall mental well-being. As parents, we want to avoid these common parenting styles and give our children the best foundation we can for the rest of their lives.

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