The Intentional Path to Becoming a Sensitive Parent

Sensitive parenting is also commonly referred to as responsive parenting. It has its roots in Diana Baumrind’s “authoritative” parenting style, a term she came up with following a study undertaken in the 1960’s. Baumrind spoke of authoritative parents as those who have high expectations but are also receptive to their kids’ needs and emotions.

Sensitive parenting has been defined as parents’ ability to:

  • respond to kids’ cues and signals appropriately and promptly,
  • engage in positive interactions with the child, and
  • provide a secure base enabling kids to explore their environment.

Some research has also defined this type of parenting as “active emotional, affective, and behavioral engagement with the child characterized by high levels of responsiveness, positive reinforcement and praise, stimulation and animation.”

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There appears to be a consensus that the impact of sensitive parenting goes well beyond the childhood years. This type of parenting has also been associated with multiple social, cognitive, and emotional benefits for kids.

Sensitive parenting fosters kids’ cognitive development

Much evidence suggests that sensitive parenting influences kids’ cognitive abilities. It has been identified as one of the strongest predictors of cognitive development. One study which sought to analyze the extent to which parents’ responsive behavior would facilitate infants’ development found that the kids whose parents had been guided toward responsiveness displayed greater social, emotional, communication, and cognitive competence. In other words, teaching parents about responsive behavior and helping them analyze this behavior had an impact on their parenting. Yet another study found that sensitive parenting during the first three years of life has a significant impact on social and academic competence through age 32.

Sensitive parenting helps foster kids’ emotional intelligence

When we provide a family environment in which kids feel safe and are taught about emotions, they are more able to deal with tough times. Several studies have reported that providing kids with a…

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