What is a Parenting Style and why is it important?

What is a Parenting Style and why is it important?

Parenting styles are the way in which parents respond to, and interact with, their child.
  • Research has shown that genetics and environment have equal influence on the development of traits in children.
  • Parenting contributes to one of the largest portions of a child’s environment, therefore is a huge influence on development.
  • Parenting approaches have been studied for many years now and although researchers may use different terminology, four main styles have been identified.

You have the power to help shape your child’s life!

The 4 Styles of Parenting

The 4 Styles of Parenting

Spoiler Alert: The most effective parenting style is a combination of high expectations AND being highly supportive and warm in your interactions.

AUTHORITATIVE PARENTING: ↑ High Expectations + ↑ High Warmth

Authoritative Parenting:

  • Have age-appropriate expectations
  • Help child work through emotions and problems
  • Hold firm boundaries with some flexibility
  • Have high expectations and adjust if needed
  • Believes corporal punishment is ineffective
  • Nurturing and affectionate
  • Communication is valued

Effects on Children:

  • Higher self-esteem & self-confidence
  • Closer with parents
  • Less vulnerable to peer-pressure
  • High level of self-control
  • Problem solvers
  • Higher academic performance
  • Less mental illness and delinquency
AUTHORITARIAN PARENTING: ↑ High Expectations + ↓ Low Warmth

Authoritarian Parenting:

  • High expectations and strict or demanding rules
  • No flexibility/rigid
  • Unquestioned obedience expected at all ages
  • Believes affection = spoiling
  • Believes punishment is the way children learn
  • Emotionally distant
  • Overly structured environment

Effects on Children:

  • Lower Self-Esteem – value is in behavior
  • Behavior not intrinsically motivated but based in the desires and expectations of others
  • Fearful to make mistakes
  • Higher percentage of mental illness
  • Lower academic performance
  • Poorer social skills
  • Drug/alcohol abuse
  • Higher delinquency
PERMISSIVE PARENTING: ↓ Low Expectations + ↑ High Warmth

Permissive Parenting:

  • Warm and very responsive
  • Few or no rules
  • Few or inconsistent boundaries
  • Overly indulgent or lenient
  • Low expectations for child
  • Avoids confrontation – may bribe or give into child’s demands
  • Discipline only used for extreme situations or not used at all

Effects on Children:

  • Can have high self esteem and self worth but can be egocentric
  • Lack of boundaries can create anxiety
  • Has difficulty with relationships
  • Poorer social skills
  • Often lacks respect for authority figures
  • Has difficulty handling responsibility
  • Can be impulsive
NEGLECTFUL PARENTING: ↓ Low Expectations + ↓ Low Warmth

Neglectful Parenting:

  • Little or no parent involvement
  • Either no expectations or unattainable expectations
  • Children often left to their own devices
  • No guidance during life’s problems
  • Inconsistent boundaries, or none at all
  • Uninterested in child’s life
  • Passive in their response or offer little interaction
  • Emotionally detached
  • Self-absorbed or overwhelmed with own problems

Effects on Children:

  • Low self-esteem & feels unworthy of love
  • Distrustful of others
  • Struggles with concentration
  • May have poor nutrition of health
  • HIgher rate of mental illness
  • Higher rates of suicide
  • Higher deliquency and drug use
If you would like to learn more about evidence-based approaches to raising children in healthy, positive ways, you may want to consider researching Gentle Parenting.

While this is a newer term being used, it is most closely aligned to the authoritative style of parenting and shares the same positive outcomes (happy, confident, kind, independent kids).

It is important to note that gentle parenting is NOT lazy or permissive parenting! Gentle parenting relies on appropriate expectations and reasonable discipline that is communicated clearly and respectfully so that children can learn to behave in age appropriate, respectful ways.

For more information… check out our Discipline Page to see how parenting styles can guide effective approaches to discipline or to check out the list of books that are based on child development research here.

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