When it comes to rearing children, just about any parent will say that what works with one kid might not work with another. Parents use all sorts of strategies to keep kids from being cranky, grumpy, fearful or moody, while encouraging them to be independent and well-adjusted.
But which parenting styles work best with which kids? A study by University of Washington psychologists provides advice about tailoring parenting to children's personalities.
At the end of the three-year study, the psychologists found that the right match between parenting styles and the child's personality led to half as many depression and anxiety symptoms in school-aged children.
But mismatches led to twice as many depression and anxiety symptoms during the same three years.
The study was published online Aug. 1 in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology
"This study moves away from the one-size-fits-all approach to parenting, and gives specific advice to parents on how to mitigate their child's anxiety and depression," said Cara Kiff, lead author and psychology resident at the UW School of Medicine. "We're considering characteristics that make children vulnerable to anxiety and depression, and factoring in how that shapes how kids react to different parenting approaches."
"We hear a lot about over-involved parents, like 'tiger moms' and 'helicopter parents,'" said co-author Liliana Lengua, a UW psychology professor. "It is parents' instinct to help and support their children in some way, but it's not always clear how to intervene in the best way. This research shows that parenting is a balance between stepping in and stepping out with guidance, support and structure based on cues from kids."