Tough Love for Parents and Kids

Filed under: Expert Advice: Toddlers & Preschoolers, Expert Advice: Big Kids, Expert Advice: Tweens

Tough love is an expression used to describe a parenting technique that combines toughness and warmth to raise children. The principles of tough love hold that children, especially teenagers, should take responsibility for their actions.

Tough love is often considered a last resort for parents dealing with troubled children. The parenting style forces parents to resist manipulation by their children by stepping back and allowing their kids to suffer the natural consequences of their behavior. This doesn't mean that parents should humiliate or harshly discipline a child. Instead, parents who practice tough love are compassionate but firm. Most importantly, they are consistent in allowing their children to experience the results of their actions.

There are many examples of tough love. For example, parents who refuses to intervene when a child is suspended from school for drug possession would be acting from a "tough love" perspective. Permissive parents, who are the exact opposite of "tough love" parents, might attempt to help the child resolve the situation.

There are therapists who specialize in helping families learn to apply tough love principles. Additionally, there are wilderness therapy camps, boarding schools and many other resources to aid parents of troubled teens.

According to a study by the think tank Demos, children who are raised with tough love are more likely to mature into adults with more well-developed characters and personalities than children raised by authoritarian or permissive parents. The same study found that children raised with tough love were also more likely to be empathetic, have the ability to control their emotions and deal with disappointment. In addition, tough love children were found to be more capable of concentrating and completing tasks.

Once you've perfected your parenting style, make sure that your child is surrounded by caregivers who follow your lead. ParentDish's childcare advice can help.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.