Parenting with Your Child’s Mental Health in Mind

It wouldn’t be surprising if I told you that your parenting style needs to be considerable of your child’s personality and mental health in mind. There was a three-year study done just a few years ago which showed that a good match between mothers’ parenting styles and their child’s personality reduced the risk of depression and anxiety symptoms in a child by half. However, children with a mismatched relationship were at two times of the risk of getting depression and/or anxiety. Therefore, there’s a significant and real link between the way you parent and the long- term impact on your child.

First, there are numerous parenting styles that theoretically exist, and they impact your child differently. Before you explore these, it’s important to note that each child is different, and it’s imperative to go in with the knowledge that you have to make the effort to know your child. Often, a mistake many parents make is to think of their kids as the mini versions of themselves; they may be mini humans, but they do have their own individual personalities and skills that can be brought to their full potential with good parenting.

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Mainly, the typical four parenting styles comprise of: authoritative, authoritarian, permissive, and uninvolved. The focus is usually on the former: authoritative parents tend to put in effort to maintain a positive relationship with their children. They discipline, not punish. Any punishments or scoldings are done in private, with the intention to make children understand their errors, and not make them feel ashamed or embarrassed about their actions. Rules are enforced, and consequences are set in place, but they are not done at the cost of the child’s feelings. There is also the positive reinforcement for good behaviour through praise and reward systems. Ideally, this is the optimal parenting style because it gives space for your child to grow but understand boundaries at the same time.

As you can see, this parenting style is flexible and adaptable to your child’s personality, and is why parents are encouraged to pursue such a style. It allows for growth on both sides. The style provides your child with a healthy environment to grow, and it teaches the values of patience to the parent. In fact, it creates a distinct friend-parent relationship, where the child respects you, but also is comfortable in confiding in you. You might even learn from their creative, imaginative ways. At the same time, be sure to respect their privacy as they grow up. It can be scary to lose all autonomous control but part of growing up is making mistakes. As long proper lessons have been being taught and continue to be, learn to let go and trust.

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On top of the pressures from school, social life, and other avenues in life, the ability of parents to let loose is a welcome reprieve. Not only does it foster a strong parent-child relationship, it also reduces the burden of expectation and reduces the risk of induced depression. In asian societies, more so, as parental expectations and behaviour are often given great emphasis — almost unrelentingly — and tend to stress children out more.

Instead of shunning children away with strict words and relentless parenting, take a step back and watch them blossom into adults instead! Instead of ruling their growth, guide them and aid them instead. With the current generation’s rates of mental illnesses being unprecedented compared to any generation ever, it’s essential that we parents do our best to take care of them.