Parenting Styles Affect Children’s Mental Health

(From Healthy Families:)

Can the way you parent really affect your child’s mental health?
A recent study of 214 children and their mothers revealed that a good match between the child’s personality and parenting styles is a huge factor in reducing the child’s risk of depression and anxiety. In situations where parenting styles did not match the child’s personality, the study found that children were at twice the risk of experiencing depression and anxiety symptoms.

This University of Washington study, which was published online August 1, in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, followed children starting at grade 3 for a period of 3 years. Annually, trained interviewers visited the moms and kids in their homes to observe the mothers’ parenting styles and to evaluate the children’s personality traits and levels of depression and anxiety over time as measured by standard questionnaires completed by the kids.

“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,” lead author Cara Kiff, a psychology resident at the University of Washington School of Medicine, said in a university news release. “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,'” co-author and psychology professor Liliana Lengua said in the news release. “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.”