Oct 15, 2009

Do Parents Who Have Learned the Skills for Creating Democratic Family Environments Also Foster Good Health and Well-being in Their Children?


In a study that combined the findings from 26 independent studies produced these findings:
  • P.E.T. trained parents showed improved scores on tests measuring "democratic ideals", acceptance and understanding of their children.
  • The greatest effect of P.E.T. training was an increase in child self-esteem (Cedar, 1985).
In a classic study done many years ago, three types of families were compared: autocratic, permissive and democratic. Children of these families were tested periodically until they reached adolescence. The findings were:
  • The IQ's of children decreased slightly in autocratic families, remained the same in permissive families, and increased on the average of eight IQ points in democratic families.
  • Children in the democratic families were given higher ratings by their teachers in originality, planfulness, patience, curiosity and fancifulness.
  • They held more leadership positions in school and scored higher in emotional adjustment and maturity (Baldwin, Kalhorn and Breese, 1945).
The idea that parents can actually make their children physically sick is not really surprising considering the intricate relationships between emotional stress and illness. Parental domination, punishment, criticism, restrictiveness, and rejection typically produce in children, fear, anger and frustration--behavioral manifestations of physiological stress. Certainly it is logical to assume that in families in which parents are less dominating and restrictive and more accepting, children would have a greater chance of growing up physically healthy and more resistive to physical illness.

Clinical evidence has shown that the feeling of losing control of one's life, of one's destiny, can be a cause of poor mental health--particularly depression, anxiety and stress. At the core of the F.E.T. blueprint is the value of promoting children's self-control versus adult control, inner control versus external control. Social scientist have recently become very interested in this issue, using the term "fate control." Autocratic teachers and parents who rely heavily on external control of children produce students with feelings of dependence and lack of fate control. Democratic teachers and parents who give children a lot of freedom and responsibility make children feel they are the ones responsible for the control of their destiny (Baumrind, 1971).

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