Talents Of Parenting – Responsiveness
Parenting is an art, and at the same time, a skill which can be developed or improved through continuous learning and practice. Many parenting styles exist and are used, yet the most important factor that determines the effectiveness of a style is – Responsiveness.
Parental responsiveness, is the ability to provide and share an open, supportive, understanding and warm relationship with the child. It also means communicating and expressing similarly, in an understanding and open manner. The formal definition, by psychologists reads as – Responsiveness refers to “the extent to which parents intentionally foster individuality, self-regulation, and self-assertion by being attuned and supportive to child’s special needs and demands”. Child development research shows that responsiveness on the part of the parents or caregiver has wide ranging effects from better psychosocial development to better immunity, health and over all development.
Being responsive means –
Being aware of the child’s needs, emotions and feelings and validating and accommodating them in the decision making process. Setting clear standards of conduct and action, which are mutually agreeable It means being assertive but not restrictive or intrusive and supportive rather than punitive It does not imply agreeing, surrendering or saying ‘yes’ to all the demands made by the child. Instead, it calls for respecting the child’s need for honest expression, and dynamically involving them in setting limits and boundaries that they can effectively follow. It helps in respecting their place in the family and their responsibility towards maintaining the harmony, togetherness and bonding in the family.
The advantages of using responsive parenting are that they help inculcate a sense of responsibility and maturity in the child. It helps them develop into individuals who are also socially responsible, autonomous, assertive, cooperative and self-regulated. Responsiveness is an important trait of authoritative parenting style, which is considered to be an ideal parenting style. Authoritative parents are demanding but also responsive to the effect of their demands on the child and hence, act accordingly. Research shows that children of authoritative parents grow up to be more socially and professionally competent than others, with low levels of behavioral problems, of course keeping enough room for exceptions.
Absence of responsiveness in parenting results in excessive demands being placed on the child with little validation of child’s needs and feelings. This often leads to resentment, obsessive lying, anger which may be expressed as rebelliousness or escapist behavior, or suppressed anger leading to emotional withdrawal and other psychosocial ill effects. Such suppressed anger and resentment may lead to psychosomatic health problems later in life, which may accompany them for the rest of their lives!
Though many a times, we imitate the way we were raised by our parents, it is essential to pick up the good examples and learn better and improved ways to keep up with the changing times and emotional needs of children, in the modern world.