Over and over we experience the horrible news of children shooting on school grounds and killing their fellow friends or committing suicides where the underlying basic reason is -hopeless torture and cruel bullying. The eleven year old boy who killed himself this April 2009, was such a recent victim. His mother complained several times but did receive no help from the school.
How can we, as parents, care givers and advocates of children help?
First of all, it is time for us as a group to be proactive. Form a forum or a committee in schools or as a group ahead of time where children can come for help, where this bullying can be nipped in the bud.
Secondly, lets teach the child to speak up. This can be done, to the very young child as teaching him how to verbalize with simple “I messages”.
(”I don’t like when you say…to me. Stop”.)
Show him that he can also speak up with creative actions. Ignoring, boycotting, forming a support group are all such examples. Let’s teach children how to be compassionate and be a helpful friend when another friend is bullied – how to seek help from friends when you are bullied.
Third, teach the child to understand the basic goal of the bully- which is – to irritate and tease. The action should be – just ignore. Do nothing and consistently resist being angry, which is hard.
Beyond that we, as parents and care givers, also do need to be aware to practice what we preach.
Here comes the understanding of the types of parenting styles and how it affects children in the long run.
Diana Baumrind (who had done her research involving more than one hundred preschool children and their parents in 1960) came to the conclusion that there are three distinct types of parenting styles.
The Authoritarian Style (Too hard):
Here the parents make rigid rules and expect them to be obeyed without questions asked. Harsh punishment is given as the consequence. Parents are authorities, they are expected to be honored, obeyed and even may be feared. There is not much friendly communication or warmth in this style.
The long run outcome of this style is- children can be sneaky, meek and subservient to authorities; and bully and bossy to younger weaker fellows. They demand power like their parents and show the same attitude.
The Permissive Type (Too soft):
These parents have no rules or guidelines for their children. Children are free to do whatever they please. These parents are warm and too friendly- to the extent that their children walk all over them. They have no conception of following direction, respect for the rights of others, or their own sense of responsibilities. With no limits these children are confused and spoiled. They have poor performances in school, can be selfish and end up unhappy.
The Authoritative Style (Just right)
Here the parents do establish rules and guidelines, sometimes involving the children and explaining the reasons. Consequences are clarified and followed through. These parents are consistent. They are warm and nurtures. They do things with their kids and listen to them, yet they are guides.
Children raised in this style learn to follow directions, lead when needed and be respectful to their subordinates. They are assertive, self motivated, resilient, responsible and with high self esteem.
Baumrind later added another type which she called “The Uninvolved or Indifferent Type”
Here the parents set no limits, guide lines or rules with their children. They are hardly aware about the things that go on in their children’s lives. With not much communication, involvement or warmth the children raised in this style are confused, neglected, and uninvolved too. They can be wild, very meek and introvert or aggressive and cruel.
They have very little self control, self esteem or purpose. This is the worst kind of parenting style and to some extent abusive.
In this discussion another aspect should also be added – that is cultural sensitivity. It is important to understand the differences in cultural backgrounds and nuances that come with them. In one culture one thing is viewed as normal politeness which can be seen as timidity in another. Similarly, many other traits can be misunderstood.
Once we know the types of parenting styles and are aware of their long run effects on children, we can reevaluate our own styles and see how those can be modified and improved to serve our children and our society better.
Dita Basu, a Montessori teacher and mom writes in her web site [http://www.bead-z-mommys-business.com] She taught Early Childhood classes in Saint Mary’s College,CA and gave several Parent Education workshops through out the last twenty years. Her web site is for the work at home jewelry artist moms who work so hard for their art, parenting and home business all at the same time.
By: Anindita Basu