Give children more autonomy during the pandemic, says study


AUTONOMY-based parenting promotes the well-being of children and their parents during the Covid-19 pandemic.Parenting school-age children as they attend school remotely is a challenge. Lacking normal child support services such as daycare, some parents must do their own jobs from home while also keeping an eye on their children.

A new study finds that allowing children a little more freedom may be the most effective strategy for adults and children alike. Autonomy-based parenting techniques support positive well-being for parents and their children during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We explored whether or not autonomy-supportive parental behavior would facilitate adaptation and better child well-being. We also explored whether such parenting behavior helps to create a positive emotional climate that benefits parents as well as children,” says study co-author Andreas B. Neubauer, of the Leibniz Institute for Research and Information in Education in Frankfurt am Main, Germany.

The study found that “autonomy-supportive parenting behavior is positively associated both with better child well-being and higher parental need fulfillment.”
As an added benefit, it also found that while this parenting technique requires care and energy to maintain, it also provided something of a recharging effect for parents.
The study appears in the journal Child Development.
Autonomy-based parenting involves allowing a child to operate independently within reasonable boundaries.

With this parenting technique, the adult communicates a nonjudgmental way to the child that allows them to explore their own strategies and solutions without fear of reprisal.
Therefore, the child gains the opportunity to own their actions and consequences. By removing parental micro-management, autonomy-based parenting promotes a child’s own feeling of competence.

In the context of the current pandemic, autonomy-based parenting means that a child assumes more responsibility for the quality of their remote schoolwork, much as they would be doing if they were on their own in a pre-pandemic classroom. Through the use of parent questionnaires, the researchers tracked the prevalence and effect of autonomy-based parenting over 3 consecutive weeks during the pandemic — from late March through late April 2020 — in Germany.

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