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The activity presents seven approaches to authority which
good parents blend and mix as they relate to and interact with their
youngsters.  Referent authority is almost
always a part of the exercise of authority when using the authoritative
approach to discipline discussed in the last activity.  The authoritative approach also relies
heavily on “the voice of experience” and informational authority as explained
in this activity.  Continuing to relate
the current activity to the last activity, reward/punishment authority and
control of resources and opportunities are generally the form in which negative
discipline is seen when negative discipline is used as part of a learning
experience for a child.

The consultant will want to first work with parents in terms
of recognizing and minimizing their use of acceptance/rejection authority.  In fact, most parents would be well advised
if they were to avoid the use of this type of authority as much as possible.  Within the relationship with the parent, the
child will naturally and spontaneously feel acceptance. When the parent becomes
upset, frustrated, annoyed, or displeased with the child, the child will feel
rejected and pushed away to some extent, whether this is what the parent
intends or not.  Since the negative
effect of acceptance/rejection authority is going to be experienced by the
child in any event, the parent should avoid its use anytime that is
possible.  The consultant will need to
work in the educational area with the parent to increase awareness of and
consciousness of those things which are experienced by children as
rejection.  These behaviors, attitudes,
and approaches are, then, those which need minimizing.

At the next level, parents and the consultant should work
together to reduce the extent to which parents use title authority.  “You will do that because I am your parent
and because I said so.”  If attention
will return to the discussion of authoritative discipline raised in the last
activity, one can easily see that this approach to authority is inconsistence
with the source of the parent’s right to direct the child and of the parent’s
power to see to it that directions are followed.  It is, nonetheless, not an adequate reason or
sufficient explanation.  In fact, if
better reasons and explanations are not available, it may be that discipline or
the use of authority are not reasonable or appropriate on that occasion.  Interestingly, the child already knows who
the parent is and knows about the parent’s authority.  Simply iterating the obvious to the child
does not extend her knowledge or understanding.

The remaining five approaches to authority mix and blend
into two main themes.  First, the use of
reward/punishment authority and authority based on controlling resources and
opportunities combine into what might be thought of as a negative discipline
theme.  These are approaches used by good
parents primarily for the purpose of controlling their youngsters.  The second theme combines referent authority
with “the voice of experience” and informational authority into a pattern of
positive discipline or a pattern of influencing youngsters.  The two themes interplay to limit and control
the youngster on the one hand and to influence and direct the young person on
the other hand.

From a developmental perspective, the first theme is very
visible and present in good parenting relationships with younger children,
although nearly absent in the parent/child interaction with adolescents.  Alternatively, the second theme – positive
discipline – is the major authority theme with older children and adolescents
and is seen as an approximately equal theme with negative discipline in
relationships with younger children.

As can be seen, the authority mix depends a lot on the
individual child but also depends more generally on the developmental age of
the youngster.  Parents are beginning to
get into trouble if the mix is not gradually shifting in favor of positive
discipline over time.  This is especially
true if negative discipline is a major theme with other children and adolescents.  In fact, negative discipline begins to become
completely inappropriate for older adolescents. 
They are simply at a stage in their lives where the exercise of parental
power and control are inappropriate and generally ineffective.

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