Ep. 13- Navigating Temperament and Parenting Styles for Better Sleep

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Welcome to another episode where we dive into the world of parenting and sleep. I'm here to shed light on how your child's temperament and your parenting style might be influencing your sleep journey.

Let's begin by unpacking temperament.

Think of it as the unique blueprint that defines how your child interacts with the world around them. Whether they're easy-going, slow to warm, or highly active, understanding your child's temperament can provide valuable insights into their sleep patterns. Factors such as activity level, regularity, intensity, mood, and adaptability all play a role in shaping your child's sleep habits.

If you're anything like me, you understand the challenges of supporting a little one who seems to be always alert, highly sensitive, and constantly on the move. They're the ones who won't stay still, notice every little detail, and seem to have a Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) on anything happening around them. I affectionately refer to these children as "passionate" because they have an insatiable curiosity and zest for life. You can’t trick these little ones to sleep, so I assure you supporting them in their sleep process is worth it.    As my colleague Macall Gordon puts it, the difference between children that sleep and those that don’t is temperament.  

But how do we bridge the gap between temperament and sleep?

It starts with awareness. By recognizing your child's temperament traits, you can tailor your approach to sleep accordingly. For instance, children who are slow to warm or highly active may require different strategies to ease into bedtime routines.

To help you understand your child,  I recommend utilizing temperament assessment tools. These resources offer valuable insights into your child's unique temperament profile, empowering you to make informed decisions.

Now, let's shift our focus to parenting styles.

Drawing from the work of psychologist Diana Baumrind, we explore four distinct parenting styles: permissive, authoritative, uninvolved, and authoritarian.


Parenting styles give us information about how we learned to be comforted and supported in dealing with the expectations and demands of  daily situations and circumstances.  I believe this influences and impacts our learning style.  Our temperament gives us information about what our strengths and weaknesses are.  Our parenting style gives us information about how we can come alongside and support our little one.  The good news about parenting styles is that there are skills we can learn to develop in our personal parenting journey because everything is learnable! 

Permissive Parenting:

Permissive parenting thrives on high support but low demands. These parents, often referred to as indulgent “let’s be friends parent”, take a laid-back approach to raising their children. While this style can offer a sense of freedom, it also presents its own set of challenges. Children raised in permissive environments may struggle with maintaining happiness and self-regulation, and they might find it challenging to respect authority figures. Permissive parents tend to be lenient, preferring to avoid strict boundaries and confrontation.

Uninvolved Parenting:

On the opposite end of the spectrum lies uninvolved parenting, “you’re on your own.” In this style, parents provide minimal support and set few expectations, leading to significant hurdles for their children. These kids often grapple with issues across various facets of life, such as lacking self-control, self-esteem, and competence compared to their peers. Uninvolved parents, also known as indifferent or neglectful, may disregard their children's needs and fail to fulfill crucial parenting duties.


Authoritative Parenting:

In my experience, I've found that children thrive when parents maintain high, yet reasonable, expectations for their behavior, communicate effectively, and show warmth and responsiveness. This parenting style, known as authoritative, “Let’s talk about it” parent,  strikes a balance between support and guidance, which is the focus of my sleep programs.  Parents utilizing this approach are supportive and engaged in their children's activities while allowing room for constructive mistakes. Children raised by authoritative parents tend to be happy, capable, and successful.


Authoritarian Parenting:

Now, let's talk about authoritarian parenting, also known as the "because I said so” approach.  In this style, parents are less supportive but high in demandingness, expecting strict obedience without providing explanations for their commands. They establish well-ordered environments with clearly defined rules, and may have the idea, “Children were meant to be seen, not heard” mentality.  While children raised in authoritarian environments may exhibit obedience and proficiency, they often score lower in happiness, social competence, and self-esteem.


So, which parenting style yields the best outcomes? 

Research suggests that the authoritative style, characterized by responsiveness and high demands, fosters optimal development. By striking a balance between warmth and control, parents can cultivate secure attachments and empower their children to thrive. The challenge of this parenting style is that parental self-care can suffer.

If you're drawn to accounts that promote positive parenting, conscious parenting, and gentle sleep and parenting techniques, like mine,  chances are you prioritize the well-being of children. Like many, I sought to parent differently from how I was raised, yet I underestimated the skills required for this journey.  We may oftentimes fall into patterns where we teach what we know, but with support, change is possible and we can learn and grow in the skills needed in the authoritative style. 


As you reflect on your parenting style, remember that it's not set in stone. Parenting is a journey influenced by various factors, including your own upbringing and life experiences. It's important not to pigeonhole yourself or feel trapped by labels. 

Remember, personal growth and change are always possible- everything is learnable! I'm living proof that you can develop the skills needed to become the parent you aspire to be. So, let's keep a sense of humor and not take ourselves too seriously. You might come across alternative names for parenting styles, like the amusing ones shared by How to Dad from New Zealand.

 Incorporating temperament awareness and informed parenting practices into your sleep routines can pave the way for more restful nights and harmonious family dynamics. If you find yourself navigating uncertainties or seeking additional support, don't hesitate to reach out to counselors, coaches, or mentors who can offer guidance along the way.  You can set up a time here on my calendar. 

By embracing the learning process and prioritizing communication and connection with your child, you can create a nurturing sleep environment that promotes calmness, confidence, and rest for the entire family.