It seems that everywhere you look these days, you’re accosted by another parenting expert. From the Tiger Mom to the Super Nanny, not to mention these 20 experts who will tell you what is up with parenting on Twitter, there is no shortage of “expert” parenting advice out there. But who were the original famous parenting experts, and what did they have to say?
John B. Watson
Watson was the “Father of Behaviorism,” with a theory on detached parenting that suggested allowing a child to become too attached was a recipe for creating dependent and insecure adults. Instead, he argued for viewing parenting as a job; one that required lots of rules, controlled environments, and very little affection or regard for a child’s free will.
Most of Skinner’s parenting philosophies came from his work with rats, so there’s that to keep in mind. But his theories revolved around the effect of consequences on behavior, and he believed that child behavior could be controlled through a series of rewards and punishments. His theories still remain strong today, especially in the education system.
Piaget was one of the first parenting experts to argue the importance of a child’s environment. He believed that it was important for parents to understand each step a child goes through in development so that they could meet the needs for exploration at each of those steps. Paramount to having those needs met was the encouragement for a child to be involved in, and interactive with, their own environment. His theories were basically an expansion upon those of Watson, arguing that it wasn’t enough to just do everything a certain way in parenting; that how a child perceived and interacted with their environment would play a part in who they became as well.
Rogers is considered to be the founder of the unconditional positive regard theory. This is where the idea of “child-centered” parenting came from, and the philosophy itself revolves around encouraging your child’s individual strengths and accepting without judgment their weaknesses.
Dr. Benjamin Spock
Dr. Spock was one of the first to approach attachment theory, which is the parenting philosophy Dr. William Spears is known for embracing in modern day. According to Dr. Spock, children needed to be treated as human beings, not obedient robots. He saw rewards and punishment as a way to manufacture superficial results, rather than character-driven behavior. He encouraged parents to trust their instincts and to nurture the bond with their children, which he believed would produce better behavior results in the long run.
Written by Leah Campbell, infertility advocate, adoptive mama, writer and editor. Find me @sifinalaska on Twitter.
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