From giraffe moms to dolphin parents, recent analogies about child rearing have sounded like a safari. As it turns out, the latest buzzwords are closely allied with the authoritative parenting model that experts have recommended for years.

Vancouver psychiatrist Shimi Kang has attracted a following for her theories about the Dolphin Way. The Dolphin Way is a firm but flexible approach that strikes a balance for parents who want to avoid being too strict or too permissive.

Take a closer look at authoritative parenting. These suggestions can help you prepare your children for more happiness and success.

General Principles of Authoritative Parenting

1. Think positive. Collaboration is the backbone of authoritative parenting. Let your children know they can count on you for guidance and support as they learn to be self-directed and create a meaningful life for themselves.

2. Take risks. Reward your children for thinking big. Praise them for making an effort even if they’re less than perfect.

3. Explain your reasoning. Authoritative parenting allows plenty of room for give and take. Discuss why it’s important to brush your teeth or share your toys. Listen respectfully to your child’s input, but you make the final decisions.

4. Offer choices. Having options helps kids to prioritize and feel engaged. Ask them if they want broccoli or spinach on their pizza.

5. Build community. Just as dolphins live in pods, we all need a support network. Welcome the input of relatives, friends, neighbors, clergy, and teachers who are a positive influence on your kids.

6. Respect individual differences. Realize that each child is unique. Your younger daughter may be able to dress herself while her older brother struggles with buttons.

7. Set boundaries. Clarify household rules and enforce them consistently. You’ll be teaching your children values and reinforcing good behavior.

8. Express your love. Authoritative parenting is both demanding and responsive. Hold children accountable for their actions while you tend to their emotional needs. Strong bonds will help your kids feel confident and secure.

How to Apply Authoritative Parenting to Common Challenges

1. Study hard. Focus on study habits that will empower your child to do their homework. Create a binder system that organizes their assignments. Designate a portion of the dining room table as their homework station.

2. Make friends. Arrange opportunities for your child to interact with diverse groups. Praise them for being considerate and kind. Teach conflict resolution skills through role playing exercises.

3. Finish your chores. Children will be pleased to know they’re a valuable part of the team. Make it clear that everyone is expected to pitch in.

4. Develop interests. It’s natural for children to sample a wide range of activities. Let them try out the debate club and soccer team. Over time, they’ll learn more about themselves and their world. They’ll discover where their strengths and passions lie.

5. Care for your health. Early lifestyle habits can have a profound impact on your child’s well-being. They’re less likely to crave doughnuts if they get used to eating vegetables at every meal. That’s especially true if you make carrots fun with dipping sauces and funny shapes.

6. Have fun. Be cheerful around your children so they’ll pick up on your positive mood. Maximize the benefits of unstructured play to help children develop academic, social, and psychological skills. Demonstrate the advantages of looking at the bright side and bouncing back from disappointments.

Dolphins are a positive role model for authoritative parents who want to raise their children to be resilient and content.

After all, dolphins look like they’re having a ball while being smart and sociable.

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