Democratic parenting style: freedom of choice for your child

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Democratic parenting style: freedom of choice for your child

The days when children had to obey their parents unconditionally have long been a thing of the past. Families who opt for the democratic parenting style allow their offspring considerable freedom to make decisions. This can promote development, but it can also bring challenges.

But how can a democratic style of education be implemented in practice and what do parents need to bear in mind? We would like to take a closer look at this below.

Democratic style of education: what is meant by it?

As the name implies, a democratic style of education involves the child's Needs and opinions. However, this by no means means that the children do not have to follow any rules, as is the case with anti-authoritarian education. Important decisions are made jointly by children and parents - as in a democracy.

Proximity, trust and mutual respect continue to play a key role. The children are allowed to realize their own ideas and make the positive experience that their opinion counts. They learn from an early age how respectful interpersonal interaction works. This strengthens the Self-confidence as well as empathy.

Educational work is not in the form of commands and punishments, but rather through directional suggestions and reflective work. It is about the children really understanding why certain behaviors are detrimental. Parents and educators are in constant communication with the child. Nevertheless, the basic principle is: learning through one's own experiences.

The characteristics of the democratic style of education

A democratic style of education is characterized by the following features:

  • Family rules are discussed and set together.
  • Parents encourage their children to make their own decisions and support them in doing so.
  • The offspring is regarded as a fully-fledged individual with his or her own views, needs and opinions.
  • Family interaction is characterized by love, understanding and warmth.
  • In the event of misconduct, no punishment follows, but joint reflection work.
  • In case of problems, the parents - or educators - provide various suggestions for solutions.
  • Educators do not view themselves as authority figures, but as group members.
  • There are no instructions in the form of commands.
  • Children get an overview of their obligations and their meaning.
  • Parents and educators encourage children to use their Achieving goals.
  • Children bear the natural consequences of their independently made decisions.
democratic education style features

Advantages and disadvantages of the democratic style of education

The fact that the question of the right upbringing can hardly be answered in a universally valid way can be seen from a Analysis of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation: Accordingly, just like any other style of education, the democratic style of education brings with it its own specific advantages and disadvantages.

Democratic parenting style: The advantages at a glance

A democratic style of education convinces with numerous advantages:

Promotion of independence

A democratic style of education allows children to make their own decisions with the support of their parents. This develops a sense of Self-efficacy. Children learn early on that they are capable of making good choices for their lives.

Reduction of behavioral problems

Children who experience themselves as autonomous personalities are significantly less likely to develop Behavioral problems. This is the result of a recent RKI investigation out.

Development of sound judgment

Mistakes are there to be learned from. This frequently quoted wisdom is an important part of the democratic style of education. Children are encouraged to make their own decisions. It is quite natural that there will be failures in the process. However, this teaches the children to better assess similar situations in the future.

Development of empathy

Because the children are treated appreciatively and with respect, it is easy for them to treat other people in the same way. A sensitive Educational style promotes the ability of empathy. The children learn to empathize with their fellow human beings and to understand their emotions to be taken seriously.

Promotion intrinsic motivation

Coercion and pressure rarely lead to sustainable success. Within the framework of the democratic style of education, children are encouraged to develop their own goals and to implement them. As a result, they do not perceive learning as externally determined, but want to develop further on their own initiative. The latter is referred to as intrinsic Motivation.

Better integration

Children who are brought up democratically have been shown to integrate better into groups. The latter is of great advantage both at school and later in professional life. This is related to the empathy factor already discussed: Children who feel valued and taken seriously have no need to play the troublemaker in a group.

Promotion of communicative skills

The democratic style of education is characterized by constant communication between children, parents and educators. Rules and boundaries can always be renegotiated as needed - for example, as the child grows older and more responsible. Through this, children learn to argue constructively and to justify their own point of view.

Democratic style of education: the disadvantages at a glance

Despite all the above-mentioned advantages, a democratic style of education also brings disadvantages:

Large amount of time required due to constant discussions

Within the framework of the democratic style of education, the rules are always discussed together. The classic power word by the parents is not provided. This can lead to the children constantly wanting to discuss everything. The latter requires a lot of Patience and puts considerable strain on parental nerves.

Danger of manipulation

If the children's desired right to have a say is extended too far, it can happen that the offspring eventually take over. Even small children know pretty well how to wrap their parents around their finger. In the worst case, the children no longer take their parents seriously because they are not shown sufficient consequences.

Irritations of the environment

Democratically raised children tend to want to discuss everything with their parents. If they show this behavior in the presence of third parties, these people may interpret it as naughtiness. Parents sometimes find themselves in need of explanation, since the democratic style of upbringing is still unknown, especially among the older generation.

The implementation sometimes costs overcoming

Not all parents find it easy to treat their children as equal partners. However, this is the basis of the democratic style of education. If parents behave contradictorily, even the best concept is doomed to failure. For parents who do not want to leave their autonomous role, a democratic style of education is not suitable.

democratic education style definition

Democratic education style: How do I implement the concept in everyday life?

The principle of the democratic style of education is simple: children are treated as individuals whose opinions and wishes are to be taken into account. However, the concept can be challenging to implement. Therefore, we would like to give you some basic tips on how you can successfully implement the democratic style of education in your everyday family life:

1. be convinced of the democratic style of education

If you want to implement the democratic style of education, you should be convinced of its benefits. If you have doubts, a successful Implementation not possible. Despite all the advantages mentioned, some parents are afraid of democratic education, believing that children will get out of hand. However, this is a fallacy.

In a democracy, there is no one who can just do whatever he wants. It is about joint decision making. If you internalize this, democratic education can succeed.

2. support your children in the decision-making process

A common Misunderstanding consists in the assumption that children are given complete freedom of choice within the framework of the democratic style of education. This is, of course, not the case. A child must first learn how to make the right decisions. You should support them in this by showing them different alternatives and possible consequences.

3. keep rules and consequences in writing

The rules adopted are binding for all family members. To ensure that they are not forgotten, it is advisable to record them in writing. The best way to do this is to create a colorful poster together that can be hung prominently in the living room or kitchen. That way, the rules in force are always present.

4. be a role model

If you want your children to make responsible choices and follow rules, you should set a good example. This includes sticking to the rules you have established together. For example, if you have decided that there will be no shouting at home, you should not use the same tone in an argument.

5. adapt the rules and spaces to the age of the child

The democratic style of education is by no means a rigid concept. Rather, the method is one of constant negotiation. As your children grow older, you should adjust the rules accordingly. This is the only way to keep the democratic parenting style suitable for everyday life. A good example is curfew, which can be longer for a sixteen-year-old than for a twelve-year-old.

Examples of the democratic style of education

What can the democratic style of education look like in practice? We would like to illustrate this with a few examples.

1. example: dealing with homework

The fact that homework must be done is, of course, indisputable. However, when and in what order this is done can be left up to the children. Every child has an individual rhythm. While some need a break or time to play after lunch, others prefer to get right to work on their homework. It is important to discuss the planned schedule.

2nd example: The family dinner

"You eat what you put on the table." This rule from grandmother's day has long been considered outdated. Children who are raised democratically are allowed to have a say in all aspects of family life. This also applies to the meal plan.

If the child wishes a certain food, the parents can fulfill this wish, as long as a balanced diet is guaranteed. Conversely, the child must also accept the food wishes of the other family members. accept. It would be conceivable, for example, to divide the decision between the days of the week: On weekends the children decide, during the week the parents.

Example 3: Dealing with failures

The Child brings a bad grade at school. Instead of punishing them, parents sit down with them and try to find out the reasons for their failure. This includes, Ask questions and to refrain from reproaches: "Should you have studied better? Had you Test anxiety? How can we support you to do better next time?"

Conclusion: Is a democratic style of education suitable for our family?

When it comes to parenting, there are few aspects that can be described as generally wrong or right. Whether the democratic style of education leads to success ultimately depends on the individual family. One important prerequisite is that the parents are convinced of the concept and are not afraid to engage in sometimes time-consuming debates with their children.

As previously explained, a democratic style of education offers numerous advantages. It is therefore becoming increasingly popular in many families. Provided that a few basic rules are observed, both parents and children benefit in many ways.

The appreciative interaction improves the family climate. In addition, the development of independence is promoted. It is therefore well worth integrating the democratic style of education, or at least some aspects of it, into everyday family life.


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Reviewed by Dr. med. Stefan Frädrich

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