Parenting styles can influence children to be pro-social

Parenting styles can encourage pro-social behaviors in children.
Parenting styles can encourage pro-social behaviors in children.(WVLT)
Published: May. 20, 2019 at 3:30 PM EDT
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Parents want to raise kids who grow up to be a good people. Thoughtful. Empathetic. Altruistic. Developmental psychologists have found that while there might be some differences among various cultures, there are certain parenting styles that lend themselves to those pro-social behaviors.

When it comes to parenting, there is no one-size-fits all approach.

Gustavo Carlo, PhD, is a professor of diversity and multicultural studies at the University of Missouri, Columbia. Carlo and his colleagues studied 462 U.S., Mexican teens and preteens to see how they were affected by different parenting styles. Past studies, on mostly white families, have shown a style known as authoritative parenting leads to better behaviors.

“High level of warmth and affection and expression of love toward your child, combined with a sort of firmness,” explained Carlo.

For Latino families, the researchers found certain parenting styles in fifth grade, predicted pro-social behavior in tenth grade. What worked best for both Latino moms and dads was the authoritative style but for dads, the no-nonsense style also worked. For dads, a no-nonsense parenting style worked best. It is also warm and caring but there are strict consequences for bad behavior, especially useful when children are growing up in dangerous environments.

“And part of that is because it fosters empathy in their children,” Carlo told Ivanhoe. Carlo said parents should also talk about expectations with their child from toddlerhood on. Point out examples of kind, generous behavior in books and in movies.

The researchers also found that teens who were more prosocial in tenth grade also had better academic outcomes in twelfth grade. Prosocial behavior may help them gain skills, like self-regulation, that also help with academic achievement.

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