A 2016 study from Iowa State University finds that the good cop, bad cop parenting technique doesn't work. This study, published in Social Science and Medicine, found that harsh parenting, defined in the research as parents who are physically aggressive, self-centered, or otherwise rough in their speech or actions toward their children, creates a continuously stressful environment that can negatively impact children as they grow into adulthood. You may have learned about this during your child development training courses while earning your CDA.
Lead author of the study, Thomas Schofield, stated that harsh parenting may directly impact children's physical health, even lasting for decades following their childhood. No matter how earnestly the good cop parent tries, Schofield found that the nice behavior cannot erase the damage of the bad cop parent. Ultimately, the study discovered that harsh parenting may cause poor physical health, such as obesity, in children as they age.
As an early childhood educator, you may have the opportunity to speak with your students' parents and provide insightful advice. If parents come to you for help regarding parenting techniques, or you are a parent yourself, consider these few suggestions from our child development training courses:
Harsh and Nice Parenting Styles Divide a Family
If one parent always punishes and the other seeks to ease the blow, odds are the children will grow up being closer to the more lenient parent and/or even resenting the disciplinarian. To avoid this, parents should come together to find a common ground regarding how they will approach future discipline situations. Doing so avoids children pitting one parent against the other or exposing the children to an unstable environment.
If you Disagree, Don't Argue in Front of the Children
There will be times parents will not agree on the best way to handle a child's behavior. While there may be some non-negotiable areas, such as bedtime and polite language, others may be less straightforward. When faced with these situations, use an agreed upon signal to show your partner that you want to discuss this problem in private and not in front of the children.
This will avoid scenarios where one parent initiates the punishment, while the other undermines them, by saying something like, "Isn't that a little harsh?" When this occurs, children may feel like they have the upper hand and may try to take advantage of the situation. If you both continue to disagree about parental control or rules, consider seeking help from a family therapist to discuss various ways you can work as a team and not against each other.
There are a variety of parenting techniques you can learn through child development training. One of the bundles we offer is called "Guiding Young Children's Behavior" which can give you some great ideas on developing healthy behaviors in your children. You can use these yourself as a parent, or share ideas with the parents of the students in your classroom. Raising happy, healthy children is everyone’s main goal.
At ProSolutions Training, we offer many online CDA courses for early childhood education professionals who are interested in learning more about their field. Feel free to contact us today to learn more about our programs!