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'Good cop bad cop' parenting

Published:Sunday | May 29, 2016 | 12:00 AMJody-Anne Lawrence

Many persons swear by the 'good cop, bad cop' style of parenting, where one parent adopts a strict, forceful demeanour while the other's approach is easy-going and friendly. However, some experts suggest that this might not be the best method for dealing with children.

Child psychologist, Gemma Gibbon pointed out that the 'good cop, bad cop' approach is not something that parents usually plan. Instead, she said, they often fall into it. The man usually takes on the dominant role of disciplinarian, while the mother, due to her nurturing personality, takes on the more passive behaviour.

Gibbon said that this can ultimately prove detrimental to the child, by teaching the art of manipulation.

"If one parent is extremely strict and the other is extremely allowing, what happens is that the child will know who to ask. You are teaching them how to go around things instead of how to learn a lesson," she told Outlook.

The psychologist said that this could lead to a cycle of destructive behaviour. She said the child could grow into an adult with a controlling personality, because they are so accustomed to getting their own way. The child may also miss out on developing vital life skills because they will always expect someone else to do things for them.

Gibbon said that parents should watch out for signs of these behaviours developing in their children. They should also watch their own behaviour to ensure they are not reinforcing undesirable traits.



She said that if one parent is either very strict or very passive, the other parent should not seek to do the opposite. Instead, both parents should speak to each other and work together to find a balance.

Gibbon said parents should not expect to agree at all times when it comes to discipline, but should work on finding a middle ground. She emphasised that the most important tool is communication.