Parenting labels don’t help children
Helicopter, lawnmower, free-range — labels for parenting styles abound online and in the media. But they’re often negative and unhelpful to parents, says Parenting Research Centre CEO and child psychologist Warren Cann.
Speaking on the Feed Play Love podcast produced by Babyology, Mr Cann says while there might be a kernel of truth in some of them in some families, applying negative parenting labels like this to a whole generation of parents does not have a scientific basis. They are nearly always based on anecdotal observations and its’ unclear how they help parents and parenting.
Listen to the episode
“They are used in an overgeneralised way and sometimes criticise parents for doing perfectly good things,” Mr Cann says. How do you decide if you are an overprotective parent? Do you tick enough of the boxes to qualify? And when do you qualify? Being labelled in this way could potentially damage your confidence and I don’t think that is very helpful. In the end I think we need to move away from these broad unhelpful labels and focus more on what is happening for our child.”
Mr Cann says focusing on what works and what is effective for their child and family can help parents adapt their parenting style according to their child’s needs.
Child temperament matters
“Temperament matters and this is not just about what you are doing as a parent. Parenting is not a level playing field. Your child is going to bring to the table a set of characteristics that are going to impact on the way you parent.
“So, first of all accept this is not just about you and beyond that, it is good to learn to value and accept your child’s temperament. It is what makes them different and special. So, learning to appreciate that style can be helpful so we then won’t inadvertently or deliberately put pressure on a child to be someone they’re not.
“Secondly, if you’re aware of your child’s temperament you can predict where their strengths and challenges lie. And you can anticipate situations where they might experience challenges.
“That doesn’t mean totally reinventing our approach to parenting for every child but it does mean tinkering or tailoring our approach so our child does get the best opportunity to learn the lessons that we are attempting to teach them as they grow up.”
- Read about temperament and other parenting issues on raising children.net.au