Improving Your Child's Academics

Which parenting style is best for your child's academics?

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Types of Parenting Styles

Research has linked parenting styles and the child's academic success very closely (Berk, 2010). If you notice your child has been struggling with academics, you might want to take a step back and consider how you approach academics and realize the impact you have on your child's views of academics. The way parents handle academics can either motivate the child to want to do well, or make the child lose desire to do well. There are four different approaches parents can take, but not all of them are necessarily supportive.
  • Authoritarian: low in warmth/comfort and high in control
  • Authoritative: high in warmth/comfort and high in control
  • Passive: high in warmth/control and low in control
  • Neglectful: low in warmth/control and low in control.
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Best Approach?

Authoritative, which is high in warmth and control, seems to be the best way to set up a positive environment for your child to have high expectations and motivation in academics (Stright & Yeo, 2013). Being an authoritative parent can include:
  • Keeping tabs on your child's progress
  • Communicating with teachers
  • Making sure your child is in challenging classes
  • Making sure they have their homework done
  • Encourage them and set up a reward system for when they do well, and set up consequences as well for when they do poorly
  • Setting up rules, such as a specific bed time, and getting homework done before they can go out and play
In addition to the authoritative style, it can help increase the child's autonomy, decision making, and responsibility for their own behavior (Stright &Yeo, 2013).

Authoritarian is a very "stiff" approach, with very high expectations, and no display of emotions. Children can often feel pressured to do well, and can never feel like they will be good enough because they aren't getting that caring affirmation from their parents, it's always "do this, do that, you could have done better."

Passive parents can influence the child to focus on other things, such as social life, sports, appearance because there isn't any control, and control emphasizes the importance of academics. The passive approach will make the child think it's okay to put aside school because parents are still showing love and reinforcing that behavior.

Studies have shown that parents who are neglectful predicts the lowest and poorest school performance in children (Berk, 2010). Examples of a neglectful parent can include:
  • not caring about performance
  • no affirmation of love and support
  • no expectations
  • not involved in any aspect of the child's life
  • no rules
  • lack of encouragement

Attitude Means Everything!

Parents, your attitude will reflect upon the child's views of academics intensely. Notice when a parent has a very laid-back attitude about school, the child seems to have that prospective as well. Ever heard of the phrase "monkey see, monkey do?" Parents that were successful in school and graduated from college are more likely to have children that are successful as well because of motivation and the example from the parent. Parents realize the importance of education when they've accomplished it themselves. Whatever kind of attitude and approach you have will impact the child's life long-term and in every aspect as well.


Berk, Laura E. Development Through the Lifespan. 5th ed. Boston: Pearson Education, 2010. Print.
Stright, Anne D., Yeo, Kim Lian. "Maternal Parenting Styles, School Involvement, and Children’s School Achievement and Conduct." Journal of Educational Psychology 106, 301-314. American Psychological Association, 2013. Web. 31 Mar. 2014.