The authoritative parenting style: An evidence-based guide

mother squatting down to talk with her young daughter, discussion looks serious yet friendly

What is authoritative parenting? The authoritative parenting style is an approach to child-rearing that combines warmth, sensitivity, and the setting of limits. Parents use positive reinforcement and reasoning to guide children. They avoid resorting to threats or punishments. This approach is common in educated, middle class families, and linked with superior child outcomes throughout the … Continue reading

Evidence-based parenting: What is it?

© 2009-2014 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved “You’ve heard of evidence-based medicine? This is evidence-based parenting.” That’s how I explained the purpose of my website, Parenting Science, when I started it back in 2006. For people familiar with the approach, it got the point across. Evidence-based medicine has been defined as “the conscientious, explicit, … Continue reading

Nighttime fears in children: A practical guide for the science-minded

© 2008 – 2014 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved Nighttime fears are very common, and may include fears of intruders, monsters, unexplained sounds, and darkness. In this article, I review The evolutionary basis for children’s fears Why kids may be biologically unprepared to cope by themselves, and How you can help your child overcome … Continue reading

The case for teaching empathy: Why empathy doesn’t just “happen”

© 2009 -2013 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved Teaching empathy? A skeptic might wonder if it makes any difference. Can’t we assume that empathy will emerge automatically, as part of the developmental process? After all, even babies show signs of empathy. For instance, experiments confirm that newborn babies are more likely to cry if … Continue reading

Praise and intelligence: Why telling kids they are smart make them act dumb

© 2008 – 2013 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved Years ago, Americans were reluctant to praise their kids’ intelligence. Like many people around the world, Americans believed that fawning over children would make them arrogant or narcissistic. But then something happened. American educators were seduced by the Self Esteem movement. They started promoting the … Continue reading

Is the Easter Bunny a fraud? Does Santa make kids gullible?

vintage 1920 Easter greeting card, with two rabbits hatching from a blue egg alongside a hatchling chicken

© 2010 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved Do you remember when you stopped believing in the Easter Bunny? Santa Claus? If you grew up speaking English (or any of the Germanic languages), these fantasy characters probably played a role in your early childhood. A positive role? I’ll bet most of us would say yes. … Continue reading

Excessive infant crying & irritability: Which comes first — the unhappy baby or the stressed-out parent?

© 2009 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved Some people believe that excessive infant crying and irritability are caused by anxious or moody parents. According to this idea, young babies cry because their parents are anxious or depressed and transmit their negative emotions to their infants. Plausible? Sure. It’s clear that distress is contagious. But … Continue reading

Attachment parenting resources

In my article, “The science of attachment parenting,” I discuss the scientific research in favor of sensitive, responsive parenting. Here I offer a list of attachment parenting resources to interested parents. General information William and Martha Sears (M.D. and R.N.) Attachment parenting is perhaps most popularly associated with this book written by William Sears (pediatrician) … Continue reading