Connecticut Families Extra: Parenting prosocial kids

Connecticut Families

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

“We tag team a little, so there might be areas where I’m tougher and areas where she is tougher,” said Gustavo Carlo. 

Gustavo Carlo 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 love, expression of love toward your child, combined with a sort of firmness,” said Carlo.

For Latino families, the researchers found certain parenting styles in fifth grade, predicted prosocial 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,” said Carlo. 

Carlo says parents should also talk about expectations with their child from toddlerhood on. Point out examples of kind, generous behavior in books and in movies. 

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