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How to be an authoritative parent

publication date: Mar 6, 2011
author/source: Anne Coates
Anne CoatesIf you tend to be a bit too authoritarian or perhaps veer towards the permissive with your children, then follow these top tips to modify your parenting style so that you become a more authoritative parent.

1. Explain why they shouldn't do something for example don't leave your shoes on the stairs as someone might trip on them and be hurt.

2. Offer choices – even young children like to have some control in their lives so you can offer a choice of what to wear the blue top or the red one rather than impose your choice. As children grow older they can help choose meals, what vegetables to have and so on.

3. Praise good behaviour and ignore minor misdemeanours.

4. Chat to your child while you are going something together so you can ask questions about how they are feeling. For example you may be watching a TV programme in whihc a character is depressed and you can ask if she ever feels sad or blue or if their friends do. Use mealtime for family discussions and encourage everyone to share their thoughts, what happened at school and so on.

5. Parent by example – children love to copy so if you want to encourage good table manners make sure you don't do the things you criticise your chidlren for. If you don't want your childrne to shout or swear, make sure you don't do so in front of them.

6. Have a system for checking behaviour when you are with other people. If you've ever seen a teacher control a class with just a look that's what you are aiming for. So agree a signal – like a cough with a certain look – so that your child knows to stop whatever he's doing.

7. Never withdraw your love and affection if a child has been naughty. Explain that you still love them even if you don't like what they have done.

8. Don't humiliate your child and especially not in front of other people.

9. Set boundaries and limits so that your children understand what is expected from them.

10. If your child asks for or to do something something, don't respond immediately especially if you are  in the middle of doing something. Say you'll think about it. That gives you time to consider the question and answer appropriately. You are less likely to agree to something you'll later regret.