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As part of his Life Coaching summer health clinic for The Hour, consultant psychiatrist Dr Alex Yellowlees discussed the key principles of good parenting.
Dr Alex stressed that someone doesn't automatically become a good or a bad parent when their child is born, but that good parenting skills are something that are developed over time. He said that many people often adopt similar parenting styles from their own parents - which can be good and bad.
Dr Alex laid out six key principles of good parenting:
1. Involvement - parents should remain actively involved with their child and occupy a considerable presence, both physically and emotionally, in their lives.
2. Acceptance - a good parent should always accept their child for who they are and love them simply for being them - not just when they behave. This doesn't mean agreeing with everything they do or overindulging them with anything that they want - because children can be wrong sometimes too.
3. Firmness - children need to be set boundaries by parents so that they can develop appropriate behaviours and self-control. Over-rigid boundaries can be as damaging as over-permissive parenting, however, and so the balance between firmness and freedom is all-important.
4. Democracy - Parents need to be in control and lead the family, but it is important that children get a say in decision making and feel that they can express themselves freely. Ultimately though, it is important that the parent is the one who makes the final decision.
5. Consistency - the family structure and messages passed on to children must be consistent across time. As Dr Alex explained "what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour today, must still be the same tomorrow. In this way children learn to make real sense of the world."
6. Congruence - a good parent needs to abide by the same rules that they lay out for their child. Similarly, both parents need to agree on acceptable and unacceptable behaviours and remain consistent with this in front of the child. If either parent contradicts their own moral codes, the child can become confused about what is right and wrong. Conversely, if both parents consistently practise what they preach, a child makes much more sense of the world and feels far more secure.
Dr Alex Yellowlees is the Medical Director of the Priory Hospital, an independent acute psychiatric hospital in Glasgow that specialises in treating mental health issues. The Priory offer treatment on a range of issues from drug addiction to self-confidence.