As a mom of three young children (two of which are now toddlers), I’m constantly looking to learn about different parenting philosophies and discipline techniques. And one thing that is for sure is that there is no “one method fits all” approach. Each child is different and each parent and family situation is different so what may work in one family may not in another and that’s ok! You are ultimately the one that gets to decide what approach to take with your kids based on their temperament, motivations and your own comfort level.
At first, it can be quite daunting to dive into the myriad of parenting advice and resources out there. Each school of thought is very passionate about their own perspective and it’s human nature to get defensive about our decisions and approach so receiving non-biased advice can be quite challenging! But the best you can do is to be informed and understand all your options. So I thought I would share with you some of the major parenting philosophies that have been documented. Of course, many parents will decide to perhaps take a bit from here and there and create their own version with a combination of different techniques that will work best for their family, but the below summary highlights the major models of parenting.
Developmental psychologist, Diana Baumrind identified 3 main parenting styles (authoritative, authoritarian and permissive) in early child development (5,6,7,8). Maccoby and Martin expanded the styles to four: authoritative, authoritarian, indulgent and neglectful (9,10). These four involve a combination of acceptance and responsiveness on one end and demand and control on the other (11). As I mentioned earlier, there is no definitive model of parenting. What may work for one family or child may not with another. With authoritative and permissive (indulgent) parenting on opposite sides of the spectrum, most conventional and modern models of parenting fall somewhere in between.
- Slow Parenting – Encourages parents to plan and organize less for their children, instead allowing them to enjoy their childhood and explore the world at their own pace.
- Nurturant Parent Model – A family model where children are expected to explore their surroundings with protection from their parents.
- Strict Father Model – An authoritarian approach, places a strong value on discipline as a means to survive and thrive in a harsh world.
- Attachment Parenting – Seeks to create strong emotional bonds, avoiding physical punishment and accomplishing discipline through interactions recognizing a child's emotional needs all while focusing on holistic understanding of the child.
A few more approaches that have warranted their own attention include:
- Taking Children Seriously – Sees both praise and punishment as manipulative and harmful to children and advocates other methods to reach agreement with them.
- Parenting For Everyone – The philosophy of Parenting For Everyone, which stems from the book by the same name, considers parenting from the ethical point of view. It analyzes parenting goals, conditions and means of childrearing. It offers to look at a child's internal world (emotions, intelligence and spirit) and derive the sources of parenting success from there. The concept of heart implies the child's sense of being loved and their ability to love others. The concept of intelligence implies the child's morals. And the concept of spirit implies the child's desire to do good actions, avoid bad behavior, and avoid encroaching upon anybody's dignity. The core concept of the philosophy of Parenting For Everyone is the concept of dignity, the child's sense of worthiness and justice.
- One theory breaks down rules into four categories: safety rules, moral rules, rules of social convention, and regulation of personal areas (personal expression, choice of friends). This theory proposes that children tend to resist mostly only rules that they perceive to intrude on personal domains, and that parents should avoid such rules (12).
- Rules of traffic – an instructional approach to discipline where parents explain to their children how to behave, teaching the rules of behavior as they would the rules of traffic, with little explanation or deeper moral and social implications.
- Fine gardening – parents believe that children have positive and negative qualities, the latter of which parents should "weed out" or "prune" into an appropriate shape.
- Rewards and punishments – a method of discipline based on logic: for a good behavior the child receives a reward or praise and for a bad or unwanted behavior the child receives a punishment or reprimand To teach a child by this logic may be very effective if it is done consistently.
- Concerted cultivation– fostering children's talents through organized leisure activities. Parents challenge their children to think critically and to speak properly and frequently, especially with other adults.
As you look at your own upbringing and childhood, can you guess which technique your parents were most comfortable with? And as you think about your style and comfort level, which one describes the way you would like to parent and discipline? Use these are a basic roadmap. The rest is a leap of faith. We’ll undoubtedly make mistakes along the way as many parents do, but if we feel our intentions were good and we tried our best, that is all we can hope for.
References:  Baumrind, D. (1967). Child care practices anteceding three patterns of preschool behavior. Genetic Psychology Monographs, 75(1), 43-88.  Baumrind, D. (1971). Current patterns of parental authority. Developmental Psychology, 4(1, Pt. 2), 1-103.  Baumrind, D. (1978). Parental disciplinary patterns and social competence in children. Youth and Society, 9, 238-276  McKay M (2006). Parenting practices in emerging adulthood: Development of a new measure. Thesis, Brigham Young University. Retrieved 2009-06-14 Maccoby, EE and Martin, JA. (1983). Socialization in the context of the family: Parent–child interaction. In P Mussen and EM Hetherington, editors, Handbook Child Psychology, volume IV: Socialization, personality, and social development, chapter 1, pages 1–101. New York: Wiley, 4th edition ISBN 978-0471090656 [10'] Chan TW and Koo A (2008).Parenting style and youth outcome in the UK, page 5. University of Oxford. Retrieved 2009-06-14 Santrock, J.W. (2007). A topical approach to life-span development, third Ed. New York: McGraw-Hill.
 "The Rules About How Parents Should Make Rules" http://www.npr.org/templates/transcript/transcript.php?storyId=12530268.