Today I thought I’d discuss how important it is to explore your parenting style when it comes to parenting and how this relates to your child’s sleep.
The four main parenting styles are:
– laissez faire
– emotion coaching
A dismissive parent tends to “sweep things under the rug”. He/she is more inclined to ignore a child’s emotional response, usually because he/she is unsure how to react. The child then learns that negative emotions are not ok, and that it is acceptable only to feel happy all the time. As he gets older, the child learns in order to gain a response to his emotional outburst that it must be BIG, and so he is often branded as “high needs” or “naughty”. He usually struggles to learn how to manage his emotions, and will most likely be unable to “self soothe” at any age or stage.
A disapproving parent tends to “devalue” emotions. He/she sends a clear message that “bad” emotions should be “shut off”. The child is, in effect, disciplined when she displays emotions such as sadness, anger or fear. The child learns that it is only ok to feel these emotions long enough to realize they are occurring, before turning them off like a switch. The child struggles to regulate her emotions, and as a result often hide how she really feels. She becomes worried about being herself, often has trust issues and may feel “unattached” from those she should feel closest to.
A laissez faire parent tends to recognize emotions but at the same time “fear limits”. He/she responds to the child but send a mess that “anything goes at anytime”. Children need respectful, loving boundaries; when his world lack these, he struggles to learn how to manage his emotions, act appropriately and create and maintain healthy relationships. He has learnt it is ok to treat people however he wishes, without considering others’ feelings. He grows up feeling a strong sense of entitlement, without considering the entitlement of others.
An emotional coach parent tends to recognize and value emotions, but gently teach their child that there is a way to be appropriate within emotional responses and to value others’ emotions just as much as their own. The primary tool of this type of parent is empathy; this is how a strong, healthy and attached relationship is formed and this is how the child learns how to create healthy relationships with others.
The child learns that all emotions are ok and that she can trust close ones to “talk through” these feelings, but that treating others in a negative way because of the way she feels is not ok. The child learns healthy boundaries, trust, respect and unconditional love.
In reality, we all use different parenting styles all rolled into one. At more stressful times, we may notice the more negative and restrictive parenting styles float to the surface. Indeed, being an emotional coach parent takes practice! However, if you lay down a strong foundation of healthy boundaries, trust, respect and unconditional love, you will be on the right track to parenting your child in a healthy way. And this is the perfect platform on which to create healthy sleeping habits!