Guiding With Warmth and Firmness

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What Does the Research Say?

Authoritative parenting has a positive impact on the wellbeing and development of the child, and research even suggests it is the ideal parenting style, providing healthy child adjustment to existing and future environments (Sanvictores & Mendez, 2022; Chou et al., 2019).

Benefits of authoritative parenting

Researchers propose that there are many benefits to adopting an authoritative parenting style. Typically, children display the following characteristics (Sanvictores & Mendez, 2022; Mattanah, 2005):

  • More confident and responsible
  • Better able to self-regulate and manage their emotions
  • More independent and able to achieve their personal goals
  • Higher levels of self-esteem
  • Improved academic performance
  • More social competence

Downsides of authoritative parenting

This parenting approach typically results in healthy, well-adjusted children. However, there are a few downsides (Sanvictores & Mendez, 2022; Mattanah, 2005).

  • Both parents and children must become more patient with one another to identify, understand, and agree on the best way forward.
  • More effort is required for both parties to set agreed-upon and shared guidelines, expectations, and goals.

How to Practice an Authoritative Parenting Style

How to Practice an Authoritative Parenting StyleHow to Practice an Authoritative Parenting StyleParenting is never straightforward and involves multiple approaches, techniques, styles, and, most importantly, patience (Sanvictores & Mendez, 2022; Chou et al., 2019).

The following techniques, practices, and play approaches can help with improving communication, strengthening parent–child relationships, and supporting healthy child development.

Techniques & ideas

The following is a summary of techniques and ideas for authoritative parenting (Morin, 2020):

  1. Listen to your child.
    Perhaps nothing is more important than spending time listening to our children. Each child’s fears, worries, dreams, hopes, likes, and dislikes offer deep insight into who they are and what they need.
  2. Provide emotional validation.
    An authoritative parent helps their child identify and understand their emotions without judging or minimizing their feelings.
  3. Consider their feelings.
    A child’s feelings are important. By considering them, parents can understand how their decisions and behavior affect their family.
  4. Set appropriate boundaries.
    Clear guidance about what is and is not acceptable (and why) helps children build better life skills.
  5. Give clear consequences.
    When children misbehave, they need to know there is a consequence. Try to set one that offers a clear life lesson.
  6. Offer incentives.
    Rather than bribe children to get things done the way you want, offer smaller incentives that teach them new skills.
  7. Provide autonomy.
    Allow children to make little choices, supporting bigger decision-making later in life.
  8. Build relationships.
    Each of the points above can be combined with setting aside quality time each day to help children feel loved and accepted.


Fun and play can be an excellent tool for building emotional bonds and understanding between children and adults and offers an ideal opportunity to engage in authoritative parenting (Snowden & Rebar, 2018).

Games that involve pretending to be different people (real or imagined) are a powerful and fun approach to learning about responsibility, communication, and developing relationships (Snowden & Rebar, 2018; Peters, 2018).

Sometimes, it is helpful to swap parent and child roles. Perhaps the parent pretends to be a child making a mess in their bedroom while the child takes on the parenting role, asking them to be more careful and tidy up.

Other situations offer opportunities to practice behavior, such as being polite.

Create an imaginary scenario where the parent is a café owner, and the child is a customer. Ask them to run through the role-play situation twice, first being a rude and ungrateful customer, and then being kind and respectful. Then, ask them to explain how they think the owner may feel toward each customer.

5 Helpful Parenting Movies

We assessed several movie review sites, along with some of our personal favorites, to provide a brief list of movies we believe highlight the challenges, joys, and lessons to be taken from parenting.

1. The Kids Are Alright

The kids are all rightThe kids are all rightThings get complicated when the children of a lesbian couple wish to connect with their biological father.

This heartfelt drama explores the complexities and realities of nontraditional families and the relationships formed.

All of us can identify with the parental flaws each character has to confront.

Available on Amazon.

2. What to Expect When You’re Expecting

What to Expect When You’re ExpectingWhat to Expect When You’re ExpectingA star-studded cast offers an ensemble of pregnant mothers preparing for the forthcoming significant life change.

The story covers a broad perspective of all that an expectant parent may face, from miscarriage to breastfeeding, and many of their fears, joys, and upsets.

Available on Amazon.

3. Parenthood

Parenthood movieParenthood movieThis humorous yet honest film reflects the parenting journey from the perspective of both adults and children.

Despite being over 30 years old, Parenthood has strong characters that offer humorous and valuable insights into the highs and lows of parenting.

Available on Amazon.

4. Stepmom

Stepmom movieStepmom movieWhen a new partner arrives on the scene following a divorce, it shakes up the family dynamics between adults and children.

It’s another movie classic, this time exploring parenting from the eyes of both a biological parent and a stepparent. With many emotional scenes, it highlights the importance of love and its potential to support those facing loss.

Available on Amazon.

5. The Pursuit of Happyness

The Pursuit of HappynessThe Pursuit of HappynessIn this emotional roller coaster, a homeless father (played by Will Smith) attempts to create a better life for his family.

It is a powerful movie that highlights what parents will do for their children and how hope and perseverance have the potential to triumph even in the most dire situations.

Available on Amazon.

In What Is Movie and Cinema Therapy & How Does It Work? we explore how movies can have therapeutic value and an opportunity to reflect on people’s inner lives in diverse situations.

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