Learning and Parent Child Interactions: What to Avoid

Posted by Sinead Cowins on February 13, 2017

Attachment theory suggests that the early interactions that occur between parents and their children deeply impact the way children think. These interactions can predict things like success in future relationships and even behavioral problems. What is relevant to learning, is that a parent’s level of demandingness vs their responsiveness in relation to how they communicate with their child can also predict learning behavior.

A Needed Balance

Demandingness is based on the idea that parents have certain expectations for their children and that they establish rules and limits around these demands. On the other hand, responsiveness refers to the number of attention parents give to their children’s needs, the degree of support that they provide, and the warmth and affection they display towards them. As one may guess, being too demanding can overwhelm your child, but not demanding enough of them may affect their motivation. Also, being too responsive can create tense, dependent children, while not being responsive enough, can communicate to your child that they are unimportant. Because demandingness and responsiveness play such an important role in how children learn to respond to their environment, balance is needed between the two.

Parenting Style and How They Can Impact Your Child’s Learning 

Authoritative Parenting is widely regarded as the most effective style of parenting. Authoritative parents display warmth and support, are available, sets limits, and provide appropriate opportunities for autonomy. Children of parents who use this style are normally the most well-adjusted and adaptive in school. Due to this, they normally attain higher levels of achievement. However, not all parents use this parenting style consistently. Even worse, other parents use less positive styles of parenting; leading to mistakes that can become detrimental to how their children navigate learning.

What You Should Avoid

Permissive Parenting- Permissive parents are reasonable towards their children’s needs, however, they are lax in their level of demandingness. When socializing their children, permissive parents are usually dismissive and unconcerned. Thus, children of permissive parents learn that their needs will be met regardless of their achievement or behavior. As a result, these children normally have lower levels of self-control in the learning environment and less competence toward schoolwork.

Authoritarian Parenting- In contrast to permissive parents, authoritarian parents are very demanding but not responsive. Their parenting is typically characterized by a low level of trust and engagement, a discouragement of open communication, and strict control that can undermine the wants and needs of the child. This can affect learning negatively by discouraging active exploration and problem solving, as well as encouraging dependence on adult control.

Neglectful Parenting-Neglectful parents are neither responsive nor demanding. They do not support or encourage their children’s self-regulation and normally fail to monitor their children’s behavior by being uninvolved. This can affect learning by creating disadvantaged, unmotivated, and avoidant children who underachieve.

By avoiding negative parenting strategies and learning to balance demandingness and responsiveness, parents can provide their children with the esteem needed for positive learning.

Spera, C. (2005). A review of the relationship among parenting practices, parenting styles, and adolescent school achievement. Educational Psychology Review17(2), 125-146.

Topics: Reading, Math, Education, Children, Parenting

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