Are you a positive parent?

Positive parenting makes a real difference to child development and children’s behaviour is strongly influenced by parenting styles and practices. Research suggests growing up in nurturing, secure family environments, for example, is important as it is associated with positive child wellbeing and the development of pro-social behaviours as well as minimising exposure to harmful problem activity. (Prosocial behaviour is behaviour that is good for us and good for the people or society around us, so examples would be sharing, helping, cooperating, being concerned for the feelings and wellbeing of others)

We all vary in how we parent. It is worth thinking about our own way of parenting. You can see in the diagram below there are two scales we can measure ourselves on.

  1. Loving and nurturing – do I provide high or low levels of love and nurturing to my children?
  2. Boundaries and supervision – do I put high importance or low importance on providing boundaries and supervision for my children?


Source:  Lifestart Spirals Programme

If we provide a lot of love and nurturing to our children but also put strong boundaries and supervision in place then we are likely to have an Authoritative parenting style. Authoritative parenting has been described as the most positive parenting style. It is described as a democratic approach to parenting, integrating warmth with firm behavioural control. For example, authoritative parents teach children to conform to standards they set through negotiation rather than by punishment. They expect children to achieve these standards in a supportive context that respects both the children’s and parents’ rights. The children of authoritative parents are more likely to be self-controlled, independent, resilient and socially responsible.

This type of Authoritative parent:
  • Enables a child to make his/her own choices
  • Makes clear rules and enforces them
  • Rewards children’s positive behaviour
  • Is involved in their child’s daily life where possible

Much research over recent decades concludes that an authoritative parenting style is related to positive outcomes for children and teenagers including:

  • A secure identity – Children who grow up in homes with parents who are tender and show warmth and where they can express their feelings easily and openly are more likely to have a strong, secure sense of identity, to have the capacity to problem solve and to have empathy for others.
  • Higher self-esteem – Children whose input into family decisions is valued are more likely to have higher self-esteem
  • Greater independence – Parenting studies have consistently linked authoritative parenting with greater autonomy/independence among young people
  • Greater levels of pro-social behaviour – Children who have experienced authoritative parenting are more likely to show pro-social behaviours – sharing, cooperating,taking account of the feelings of others – and to be more socially responsible
  • Greater educational competencies – Authoritative parents are more likely to be actively involved in their children’s education leading to greater school engagement and educational achievement.
  • Resistance to peer pressure – Positive parent-child relationships reduce the potential for engaging in antisocial behaviour with peers or endorsed by peers. Authoritative parenting can improve the relationships in teenage social networks and with other adults such as teachers.

If you want to build your positive parenting skills why not sign up for a Parents Plus parenting programme with Parent Hub Donegal? Just click the link and complete the form and we will be in touch. The Parents Plus programmes for different ages are all about the positive!

Being authoritative is very different from being bossy or authoritarian. If we place a lot of importance on boundaries and supervision but do not provide much love or nurturing for our children we are likely to be bossy or authoritarian in our parenting style. We are likely to be very controlling of the behaviour and attitudes of our children and unlikely to negotiate with them. Authoritarian parents demand respect for authority are likely to be critical of their children and engage in harsh disciplinarian styles of parenting. Their children are more likely to be defiant, socially incompetent and dependent.

This type of authoritarian or bossy parent:
  • Has expectations for a child that are too high
  • Does not enable a child to make his/her own choices
  • Often insults and belittles a child
  • Often ignores good behaviour and excessively punishes a child

If we don’t think boundaries and supervision are of any importance and we don’t show our children much love and nurturing we are likely to be neglectful or distant in our parenting style. Neglectful parents are emotionally uninvolved and not supportive of their children. They do not set boundaries and / or standards and may be unpredictable. The children of neglectful parents are likely to develop emotional problems as they grow, tend to perform poorly in school and have difficulties in educational attainment.

This type of distant or neglectful parent:
  • Does not have a close relationship with a child
  • Allows a child to do what they want
  • Shows little interest in a child’s behaviour or aspirations
  • Does not supervise a child/or arrange adequate supervision when needed

If we show our children a lot of love and nurturing but don’t exercise much influence when it comes to boundaries and supervision we are likely to have a Permissive style of parenting. Permissive parents are typically loving parents, however they tend to be very swayed by their children’s impulses, desires and actions. They impose few standards of behaviour and exert little control over the conduct of their children. Consequently their children are more likely to be irresponsible, aimless and less confident.

This type of easy going or permissive parent:
  • Lets a child do what he/she wants
  • Does not establish any rules for a child
  • Will give in to a child having tantrums
  • Provides no structure for a child

Children whose parents have a permissive or authoritarian style of parenting are less likely to do well and achieve at school. Children whose parents have an authoritarian or neglectful style of parenting are more likely to rely on their peers for support and guidance and consequently are more likely to get involved in anti-social and dangerous behaviours.

Our thanks to the Tusla websites – links below – for this valuable information on positive parenting.

If you want to find out more about the research into different parenting styles you can find information at from page 121-122

You can also find out more about key messages to support your parenting at

You may also like

        Short videos on the Importance of Play have recently launched which was a collaboration between North Central CFSN and Lifestart Services.   Volume 1 Volume 2 Volume 3 Volume 4 Volume 5 Volume 6

Infant Mental Health Awareness Week runs from June 13th-19th.           

This week provides an opportunity to focus attention on the wellbeing, social and emotional development of our babies and young children. It highlights the importance of early relationships and a relationship based approach to interventions with infants and families. As our understanding of IMH and its evidence base develops, so also does our knowledge of how to apply this knowledge and an ‘IMH lens’ to interactions with infants, parents and caregivers in health and social services. 

What is infant mental health?

Infant Mental health (IMH) refers to the healthy social and emotional development of Infants starting at conception up to three years of age.

The first 1000 days of life are recognised as a critical period of opportunity to support infant mental health. Decades of research have shown that it is the quality of the early caregiver relationship that is a significant determinant of the infant’s healthy social and emotional development and in turn physical health, right up to adulthood.


The National Healthy Childhood Programme has embedded IMH as the foundation of the development of its resources and in the approach of the delivery of the universal child health service. This embedding of key messages can be seen in the My Child suite of books ( and also on  where key messages around bonding and relationship building have been embedded for the parent/caregiver.


In clinical practice the topic of IMH has been included for the first time in the National Standardised Child Health Record. To build on this, the National Healthy Childhood Programme have just completed a suite of three eLearning units which are now available on HSEland for healthcare practitioners / caregivers who are working with children and families.  


Throughout the week you will see videos and key IMH messaging being promoted on the HSE MyChild social media pages ( Facebook / Instagram ). Keep an eye out in the National Newspapers for articles from our experts also. (IrishTimes article)  


In addition The National Healthy Childhood Programme have developed a series of ten practical videos with HSE expert advice which are now available on YouTube and on the relevant pages on the website.

These videos (2-3 minutes each) are aimed at parents/guardians of children (0 – 3 years).

These new video resources are available here while lots more expert advice for every step of pregnancy, baby and toddler health can also be found at

There are a suite of posters available focusing on the promotion of IMH messaging to order from

Leave a comment