Canada is Free and Freedom is Its Nationality

Sir Wilfrid Laurier

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Parents in Control

Please Note: This is a summary of the events and speeches in my own words for educational, information, and entertainment purposes only. It is not the speakers' exact words and should not be taken as such. It also may contain errors due to the nature of the medium. I am not responsible for any of them, use at your own risk.

Research under review: Parents in control: Best practice or another way to be a bad parent?

Dr. Kelly Schwartz, PhD, RPsych and IMFC Research Fellow

Dr. Schwartz is masquerading as an academic but he is really a Dad and a coach. Much of what he knows he learned living and working with families.

Anxious Parent - Anxious Kids.


A kid on a sports team said don't tell his Dad he got hurt because his Dad will freak out if he finds out that the kid didn't play in the tournament.

A parent says that a child (13) is not doing as well as she can in school. They are on their third psychological assessment.

How do we get good science into practice.

What do good-enough parents look like?

There is a chart showing different categories depending a parental demands and responsiveness.

We are not talking about perfect parents, just good enough.

When we support kids, making high demands but giving a high level of responsiveness to them, that equals social initiative.

Lack of behavior control can lead to anti-social behavior.

Parents are anxious, they want to know how to do things correctly.

Psychological control can lead to depression.

What do good enough kids look like?

People don't actually know what they want from kids, how to define good kids and healthy development.

There are three characteristics to look for.

Social-emotional bond (Parent-child, friends)

Competence (social, achievement)

Self regulation (emotional, behavioral, also known as self control)

Children have a need to feel autonomous, competent, and related to those around them.

We are seeing kids with no self-regulation. They are anxious. They have identity issues.

Parents in Control vs. Controlling Parents.

All parents are manipulative and try to cajole behavior sometime. We are not absolutely distancing ourselves from these techniques but some parents are using them as their primary parenting style.

They are manipulative of childrens' thoughts. They use strategies that focus on obedience and not trying to develop independence or competency. They subtly shun or are less friendly to their children as discipline.

Parental constraining. They take over the parent child relationship and the child zones out. You ask questions of the child and the child just answers.

Corporal punishment, which he will not address in this crowd.

How do parents get out of control?

Pressure from above (life events, single parenthood, finances)

Pressure from below (Difficult children)

Pressure from within (Parental fears and anxieties)

Where does psychological control live?

Academics (focus on outcome, the test, which stifles creativity etc)

Sports (Pressure to win decreases feelings of choice or self determination)

Psychological control does not have a direct link to child psychological disorders but it can lead to depression and anti-social behavior.

Autonomy-supportive parenting strategies need support.

Our culture is panicked about excelling but good enough parenting yields good results.

Q: have you done studies on passive v. aggressive psychological control techniques?

A: People don't usually say "I want to actively damage my child" We just slip into behavior and then try to justify it.

Q: You are skirting around the trophy child issue. Is this a result of a lack of funciton in the family?

A: Yes there is a trophy child thing. Parents who are insecure in themselves try to live through their children. One of the hardest things they have to do is to do gifted assessments and tell parents that their child is normal.

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