The Parenting Style That Helps Children Most

For those who think an overly strict, or an overly indulgent, approach works best, check out the new research on raising great kids

Children whose parents use a supportive parenting style have the highest achievements academically, in levels of happiness and in incomes as adults, according to new research from Japan. These children are also more likely to marry and have higher numbers of children.

Researchers at Kobe University in Kobe, Japan, studied five parenting styles: supporting, strict, indulgent, uninvolved, and abusive. Lead researcher Nishimura Kazuo said in a university report, “People with a supporting upbringing are more likely to see their parents as positive role models.”

Related: The Seven Secrets of Raising Healthy Boys

Researchers correlated a child’s positive perception of their fathers and mothers with the child’s greater achievements, choice to marry, and desire to have a larger family.

The traits that separate supportive parenting from other parenting styles are:

1.) Encouraging your child’s independence. Children achieve independence when they feel loved and respected by their parents. This provides them with a safe environment from which to take risks and explore their world. Supportive parents also show confidence in their child’s abilities and capabilities. They encourage children to try new things and believe in their ability to learn. But unlike parents who use other parenting styles, supportive parents provide guidance to their children and give them freedom to make age-appropriate decisions.

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2.) Communicating trust in your child. When my son asked for a pellet gun, I wanted him to first show he could take good care of his cap gun, and not use it to frighten people or pets. When he got his first pellet gun, I supervised him until I was satisfied he would use it safely.  Now I trust him to use it on his own. As children show they are trustworthy, supportive parents give them greater responsibilities. Supporting parents also give their child increasing levels of privacy as they grow older and demonstrate accountability and responsibility.

Supportive parents listen carefully to their children, have frequent eye contact, and discuss with their children what’s happening in their world.

3.) Expressing interest in your child. A Houston-area day-care center’s Facebook post recently went viral. The Hockley, Texas, center put up a sign urging parents in bold letters to get off their phones. As parents arrived to pick up their kids at the end of the day, daycare workers were noticing the parents paying more attention to their phones than to their kids. The sign reads, “Your child is happy to see you! Are you happy to see your child?”

Children hunger for positive attention from their parents. When a child’s parents don’t routinely show interest in them, they can develop low self-worth, insecurity, and behavior problems. Supportive parents listen carefully to their children, have frequent eye contact, and discuss with their children what’s happening in their world.

4.) Spending time with your child. In some homes, children feel more like tenants than family. Supportive parents don’t wait for weekends or family vacations to spend quality time with their kids. While weekdays can be hectic with parents’ work and kids after-school activities, supportive parents make time for their children several days a week.

Related: How to Connect with Your Teen Whether You Want to or Not

Some parents plan family meals, others use shared commutes to connect with their kids, and others are in the habit of having time for family activities before the kids go to bed. Traveling parents schedule time for video calls.

Supportive parents are intentional about making time to get together and share time with their children on more days than not.

Jon Beaty, life coach and father of two, lives near Portland, Oregon, and is the author of the book, “If You’re Not Growing, You’re Dying: 7 Habits for Thriving in Your Faith, Relationships and Work.

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