Have you heard of harsh parenting? Harsh parenting is defined as angry, hostile and antisocial. And according to an article on WebMD, harsh parenting can inflict physical damage on kids as well as psychological damage that can last into adulthood. This parenting style has more ill effects on children than you’ve likely considered, and a buffer parent is not able to undo the damage. That’s the upshot of a new study in the journal of Social Science & Medicine.
The study looked at 451 students in Iowa in the late 1980s. The children were studied over a course of eight years. The article also says that having a parent who is loving only compounds the problem.
"Harshness, as we measured it, is always bad for kids. But it is particularly bad if the adolescent perceives high levels of warmth and support from the other parent," said study lead author Thomas Schofield.
How to Tell If You're a Harsh Parent
Here are the ways you can determine if you’re a practitioner of harsh parenting.
Look at Your Children’s Reactions
Do your kids avoid you or seem afraid of you? If so, that might be a sign that you are exhibiting harsh parenting techniques. All kids might seem fearful when a parent is about to discipline them, so that’s understandable, but if their hesitation around you goes well beyond a normal and healthy fear, there might be a deeper issue you need to confront.
Think About the Words You Use
As the WebMD article states, harsh parenting is not abuse. It’s a form of parenting where a parent is angry and openly hostile towards their children. Many times, this manifests itself through the words we use. Take a step back and think about the way you converse with your children. Are the words you use demeaning, overly negative, and mean-spirited? If so, this might be an indication you need to tone it down.
Be Aware of Your Mood Swings
Are you angry often in your personal or professional life? If so, you might be bringing this animosity home with you and taking it out on your family. If this is the case, you might want to seek some professional help, or at least work to minimize the anger you feel, and find ways to relieve the stress you’re under.
Consider Your Actions
Do you act one way in public around your kids and a different way at home? If so, this could be a sign that you realize your words and actions are too harsh for public consumption and there might be a problem.
How to Fix It
If harsh parenting is a feature of your parenting style, there are ways to minimize it.
Ask for Feedback
Speak to your spouse and have a frank and open discussion about what they see, and how they feel it impacts your children. Be prepared to hear things you may not like, and determine if you need to make a change.
Do the Work
If there is a problem, be prepared for it take some serious work to change it. This behavior might be more of a way of life for you, and that can mean a complete change in thinking about how you solve problems, deal with people, and handle pressure. It’s not insurmountable, but it will be a process.
Make the Effort With Your Kids
You might need to put in some real effort to repair the damage to your relationship with your children, and that may not be quick or easy. Children are resilient and forgiving. At their core, they love you. If you feel the same and want to improve your relationship with them, they will most likely give you the chance to do that.