If permissive parents need to learn to be a little bit more like authoritarian parents, then authoritarian parents need to be a bit more like permissive parents. Meaning, parents who exhibit this style of parenting likely need to learn how to be a bit more sensitive to their children. However, there are a lot of ways to do this—you can find one that feels right for you.
One way is to put yourself in your kid’s shoes, so, for example, if they are struggling in some way, think about why and what you’d like someone to do for you. This also holds true if the kid is asking for more freedom or leniency—for example, a teen asking for more autonomy.
“Some of the key components are treating the child as the parent would want to be treated, including allowing for autonomy and choice; understanding that behavior is always rooted in some kind of need or underlying issue—and seeking to understand the child’s perspective before making assumptions about their emotions or behavior,” says Beurkens. “Giving children the freedom to make choices and learn from them; open communication; respect for all members of the family; problem-solving when challenges arise; addressing things in playful ways when appropriate.”
You can also move away from leaning on punishment and instead rely on discipline. Punishment tends to be reactionary and usually doesn’t come with guidance or context on why they are being punished (this is especially important for younger children who may not yet understand rules, self-regulation, or right from wrong).
See, discipline “is the range of ways a parent can interact with their children so that they can understand what is expected of them, have tools for problem-solving, and make good decisions about behavior,” says Pressman. This is all about setting up a structure and context for your kid to succeed.
Essentially, discipline starts before the “bad behavior” is even expressed: You want to explain to your kids what you expect of them, why you expect them to act this way, what the “real-life” consequences are if they don’t, and what sort of outcomes may be expected if the independent behavior is not met.
Finally, you can just show up for your kid, remind them you love them and you care about them, offer emotional support, and just help them when they are struggling. You don’t have to be attentive to your kid’s needs 24/7, but you can be there when it counts.