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When Mommy's Laid Back and Her Kid is a Spaz

depression and anxiety, child health

Parenting style impacts kids' risk for depression.

It’s an old story: siblings, raised by the same parents, grow up with very different reactions to life under the same roof. One might think Mom and Dad were pretty awesome, the other blames their parents for how awful life turned out to be. Personality plays a huge role in how kids react to their parents, but it’s not just the kids’ personality that matters.

It’s also the parents’ personality, as expressed in their parenting style.

A new study has found that some parenting styles, often dictated by a parents personality, can affect a child’s mental health.

In short, matching parenting style to your kids’ personality can greatly reduced their risk for depression and anxiety.

Researchers at the University of Washington looked at 214 children and their mothers (always the mothers!). They found that a good match between the two could reduce risk of depression and anxiety by a half. That’s huge.

But what constitutes a “good match”? For children who were pretty good at controlling their behavior and emotions did far better with less controlling moms. These guys benefited greatly from moms who gave them more autonomy.

For kids who had a hard time regulating their emotions and actions, they reported less depression if their moms imposed more structure — if they were more controlling.

The bottom line of this study, which was published earlier this month in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, is that there is no holy grail approach to parenting, no one-size-fits-all.

A decent approach, according to the study’s lead author, is to consider each child’s personality, listen, step in and out when the kids’ cues are telling you to.

Easier said than done, particularly when you’re parenting more than one. Kids notice different reactions to similar situations and they’ll call you out on it.

Have you noticed you parent your kids differently because of their personalities? Or do you stick to one way for all?

Photo: apdk via flickr

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