Match.com For Kid's Personality

One size fits all parenting approaches not very effective

August 24, 2011 / Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

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(dailyRx News) It's no secret that children all have very different personalities, even siblings raised in the same household. Most parents have experienced that what works with one kid, doesn't work with another.

When the parenting style is matched to a child's individual personality, symptoms of depression and anxiety are cut in half for the child.

"Learn how to tailor your parenting style to your child's personality."

Strategies that work well to keep a child from being grumpy, fearful or frustrated also reduce the child's depression and anxiety levels. The more a parent adjusts his or her parenting tactics to the personality of the child, the more successful this will be.

Psychologists at the University of Washington conducted a study to look at how temperament works with parenting behaviors. Lead author Cara J. Kiff led a team that observed mothers interacting with their children, and also measured temperament and adjustment on questionnaires. The team studies 214 children between the ages of 8 and 12.

Levels of depression and anxiety in the children were assessed over a three-year period. The research showed that the match of parenting style to an individual child had a significant impact, particularly in the areas of how much autonomy and guidance a parent gave the child, as well as parental negativity.

A key matching factor was effortful control in the children. When a child has more effortful control, she has a greater ability to regulate her own emotions and actions. For kids who are higher in effortful control, a matched parenting style that gives greater autonomy and minimal guidance resulted in lower levels of anxiety and depression in the children.

But if these kids got too much parental guidance and less independence, anxiety and depression rose.

The converse was also true; children with low effortful control did best with more guidance and less autonomy, and also showed more symptoms of depression and anxiety with negative parenting styles.

The researchers concluded that parenting style and a child's temperament are two important risk factors in the development of problems. When parents adjust their methods to correspond with their children's emotional capabilities, particularly in the areas of autonomy and guidance, they can have a great effect on the emotional health of their children.

The findings were published in the August 2011 issue of the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology.