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Discipline Dilemmas: What’s Your Parenting Style?

It’s been said that there are as many parenting styles as there are parents. One of the most popular recent parenting philosophies is Love and Logic, which aims to teach parents how to raise responsible children and empower them by offering choices. But how does it differ from the authoritarian or permissive parenting styles?

Read on to learn how parents handle different challenges using authoritarian, permissive and Love and Logic philosophies. Dr. Marilyn Powell-Kissinger, a licensed psychologist at Dallas’ Enrichment Counseling and Assessment who counsels parents, helps define the reactions and the pros and cons of each philosophy.

PARENTING DILEMMA: My 9-year-old refuses to eat her dinner.

Authoritarian Response: You won’t get up until you’re done.
“An authoritarian parent would follow the more traditional discipline path,” Powell-Kissinger says. “The goal is obedience. Children raised in this environment tend to rebel or not know how to make choices because they’ve always been told what to do.”

Permissive Response: Eat whatever you want, whenever you want.
“Permissive parents allow their children to do anything,” Powell-Kissinger says. “There are few — if any — rules and no routines. This can lead to disconnection because the parent isn’t intervening.”

Love and Logic Response: Are you going to have peas or carrots as your vegetable tonight?
“Try to give them leeway to feel good about their choices but also see the consequences of their choices, so when they’re adults, they’ll know how to make choices,” Powell-Kissinger says.

PARENTING DILEMMA: My 5-year-old acts out in public.

Authoritarian Response: Discipline quickly and publicly.
“Authoritarian parents are stricter, more rule-based with rigid routines,” Powell-Kissinger says. “They may lean toward spanking as a punishment.”

Permissive Response: Ignore it.
“Permissive parents would act like it isn’t happening,” Powell-Kissinger says. “Sometimes this approach works, because the child sees her behavior doesn’t get a response.”

Love and Logic Response: Mirror your child’s behavior.
Dr. Charles Fay, co-founder of the Love and Logic approach, says parents should try mirroring their child’s behavior, going so far as jumping up and down and yelling, “I want it! I want it!” in public.

PARENTING DILEMMA: My toddler won’t wear what I choose for her!

Authoritarian Response: This is what you’re wearing. You will wear this or we won’t go.
“Punishment is delivered without a lot of discussion,” Powell-Kissinger says. “It would be an absolute that the child would suffer consequences if he didn’t comply.”

Permissive Response: Wear whatever you want, if anything.
Permissive parents wouldn’t be concerned about what their children are wearing, even if it doesn’t match, says Powell-Kissinger.

Love and Logic Response: Would you like to wear your dinosaur shirt or your striped shirt?
According to Fay, parents should give the child a choice whenever possible. Give only two options, either of which the parent can accept. If the child doesn’t decide in 10 seconds, the parent should decide for him.