A parenting style refers to the approach a parent or primary caregiver takes when it comes to raising their child. It typically includes elements like how they discipline their child, what type of emotional bond they have with them, and what expectations they hold for their child’s behavior. While the actions of most parents don’t fit neatly into a single one, or some parents may have their own unique style, learning about other parenting styles can be helpful for analyzing and planning the way you would like to parent your child. Read on for a brief overview of the various parenting styles, their potential outcomes relating to child psychology, and tips for those who want to adjust their parenting style.
The Four Primary Parenting Styles
Developmental psychologist Diana Baumrind first introduced three major parenting styles in the 1960s to help explain the different ways in which parents may choose to socialize their children. The Baumrind parenting styles originally included authoritarian, authoritative, and permissive. Another developmental psychologist, Eleanor Maccoby, added the fourth style—neglectful— with the help of John Martin in the 1980s. Multiple elements factor into each parenting style and how it may shape family dynamics and child behavior. In general, the four major parenting styles are categorized based on how responsive and demanding a parent is with their child.
- Responsiveness is determined by how sensitive and open a caregiver is to their child's needs. For example, responsive caregivers show interest in the child's daily activities, display a high level of affectionate interaction, and are willing to respect the child’s point of view.
- Demandingness is determined by the level of control a parent seeks over their child. For example, demanding caregivers only offer their child a few decisions and feel the need to monitor their activities closely, usually beyond an age-appropriate level.
Extensive research has been done on how each style may affect child development, which will be referenced below along with an overview of all four types.
Those with an authoritarian parenting style build a high-demand, low-response relationship with their child. It’s usually characterized by one-way communication and a clear definition of parent/child roles. An authoritarian parent often presents their child with strict rules that they are expected to obey without question. They generally offer them little or no room to negotiate and don’t usually feel compelled to explain their rules. The child is expected to uphold these high standards without any mistakes. When mistakes do occur, an authoritarian parent may enforce rules by delivering some form of punishment.
Children with authoritarian parents are usually well-behaved because they are familiar with stern discipline and the consequences of stepping out of line. These children are also more likely to function well within a structured dynamic with authority figures. However, authoritarian parenting practices often result in children displaying rebellious tendencies as they grow older. In addition, these children may experience trouble managing their anger later in life.
Authoritarian parenting can also vary depending on a family’s culture. One study titled Authoritarian Parenting and Asian Adolescent School Performance, states that Asian-American families were more authoritarian and less authoritative than European-American families and that parenting styles may differ based on immigrant status.
Authoritative parents tend to build a high-demand, high-response relationship with their child. This approach tends to create a close, nurturing bond between child and caregiver, with clearly defined roles for each and frequent communication back and forth. The child is often presented with clear guidelines for behavior, and expectations come with explanations as well as appropriate disciplinary actions for failing to meet them. Discipline usually focuses on learning through experience and repairing mistakes rather than punishment. The child is frequently given some input into their boundaries and responsibilities.
Authoritative parenting typically supports children in becoming confident, well-adjusted, responsible adults and is generally considered to be the ideal parenting style. Children with an authoritative parent are more likely to have higher self-esteem and to use creativity to accomplish goals because their independence is encouraged. They are also more likely to be able to self-control emotionally after being raised in an environment where speaking about feelings and experiences was normalized.
Parents with a permissive parenting style build a low-demand, high-response relationship with their children. This parenting style often creates a warm, nurturing bond between parent and child but imposes few or no limits or expectations. The adult’s role may be unclear, as the line between parent and friend may not be well defined. Permissive parents tend to be highly responsive to the child’s needs, communicate with them frequently, and offer them free choice, but they offer little structure or guidance.
While life without limits may sound appealing to a child, children typically need boundaries, discipline, and structure to become well-adjusted adults. Children raised by permissive parents may develop unhealthy eating, sleep, screen time, or homework habits, behavioral issues, or other traits that may negatively impact them over time. Though they are often creative and independent, children with permissive or indulgent parents also tend to be impulsive, selfish, demanding, and have trouble with self-control.
Uninvolved Or Neglectful Parenting
Those with an uninvolved or neglectful parenting style build a low-demand, low-response relationship with their child. Uninvolved parents tend to create a distant, cool bond without clearly defined roles, as the child is given freedom without guidance. Uninvolved parents may meet the child’s basic needs, but often keep themselves detached from their child emotionally. Communication is often limited, and no consistent discipline style is used. A child may experience uncertainty and disinterest as a result of uninvolved parenting.
Children who grow up with uninvolved or neglectful parents may become more self-sufficient and resilient. However, they may also have trouble controlling their emotions, have low self-esteem, experience increased academic challenges, and have difficulty establishing or maintaining healthy social relationships.
What Is The Ideal Parenting Style?
Generally, authoritative parenting is considered to be the optimum parenting style because it offers clear parental guidance and expectations, nurturing emotional support, and age-appropriate responsibility. Children can benefit when parents encourage healthy boundaries and teach them how to learn from mistakes. Clearly defined parent/child roles and taking the child’s feelings and perspective into account can also help build a strong bond and foster open communication.
“An authoritative parenting style has consistently been associated with positive developmental outcomes in youth, such as psychosocial competence (e.g., maturation, resilience, optimism, self-reliance, social competence, self-esteem) and academic achievement,” say the authors of a 2019 research paper about parenting styles.
Remember, the approach of many parents won’t fit neatly into one style, but thinking of them in this way can give caregivers a framework to assist them in making decisions about how to relate to their children. It’s also worth noting that every situation and family dynamic is different, and that culture can also significantly influence how people choose to raise their children. The best parenting style for you may not be the best for others, so it's important to explore varying techniques and methods until you find a style that works.
How To Cultivate A Healthy Parenting Style
If you've noticed patterns you don't like in your parenting style or relationship with your child, there are ways to shift your habits over time. Some tips for building toward a healthier parenting style may include a focus on the following goals:
- Set and consistently enforce well-defined rules
- Center discipline on learning and growth
- Communicate how children are expected to behave
- Establish open lines of communication
- Delineate clear parent and child roles
- Maintain parental authority
- Offer age-appropriate independence
Another way to grow as a parent is to seek out the support of a therapist. Family therapy can be valuable for allowing families to say their feelings and improve communication to build a healthier group dynamic. Or, individual therapy can help you as a parent identify the underlying causes behind your choices and assist you in strengthening your communication and parenting skills. A therapist can also support you in coping with the stressors of raising a child and offer you a safe space to express and process emotions.
How To Find A Therapist
If you’re interested in meeting with a therapist, you have options: in-person, or virtual. Those who are interested in traditional, in-person sessions can search for a provider in their local area. For those who have busy schedules and would find virtual meetings to be more available and convenient, virtual therapy may be worth considering. With a virtual therapy service like BetterHelp, you can get matched with a licensed therapist who you can meet with via phone, video call, and/or in-app messaging to get support for the challenges you may be facing. Research suggests that both online and in-person therapy can offer similar benefits in general, so you can typically choose the format that’s right for you.
What are the advantages of parenting styles?
Different parenting styles have a significant impact on a child's development, behavior, and overall well-being. Different parenting styles offer distinct advantages that can contribute to positive outcomes for children. Here are the advantages of some common parenting styles:
- Positive Behavior: Children raised with authoritative parenting tend to exhibit positive behaviors, self-discipline, and responsibility.
- Emotional Well-Being: They often have good emotional regulation skills, self-esteem, and social competence due to the warmth and support provided by authoritative parents. They may be able to develop healthy relationships more easily than other parenting styles.
- Academic Success: Authoritative parents emphasize learning and education, leading to better academic performance.
- Open Communication: Permissive parents often have open lines of communication with their children, which can encourage trust and sharing of thoughts and feelings.
- Creativity and Independence: Children may develop creativity, independence, and decision-making skills as permissive parenting allows for more freedom.
- Structure and Discipline: Children raised in an authoritarian style environment often learn discipline, order, and respect for rules.
- Goal Achievement: Authoritarian parenting can lead to high achievement and adherence to responsibilities due to the strong emphasis on performance.
- Independence: Children growing up in an uninvolved environment might develop self-reliance and independence out of necessity.
- Adaptability: In some cases, children learn to adapt to challenges as they make their own decisions at a young age.
These advantages can be realized when parenting styles are applied in a balanced and adaptable manner. Parenting is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor, and the most effective approach may involve elements from different styles, adjusted based on a child's individual needs, family dynamics, and cultural context.
What are the pros and cons of uninvolved parenting style?
The uninvolved or neglectful parenting style is characterized by a lack of emotional involvement, responsiveness, and guidance from parents. This style can have both potential advantages and significant disadvantages for children's development and well-being. Here are the pros and cons of uninvolved parenting:
Pros of Uninvolved Parenting:
- Independence: Children raised in an uninvolved parenting environment may develop a sense of independence and self-reliance at an early age, as they learn to navigate life with limited guidance.
- Problem-Solving Skills: Due to the lack of parental intervention, children might develop problem-solving and decision-making skills to handle challenges on their own.
- Flexibility: Children might adapt well to changing circumstances and be able to make decisions without relying heavily on external guidance.
- Emotional Neglect: One of the most significant drawbacks of uninvolved parenting is emotional neglect. Children may experience feelings of loneliness, insecurity, and a lack of emotional support.
- Poor Attachment: Lack of emotional bonding and responsiveness can lead to insecure attachment styles, which may impact the child's ability to form healthy relationships in the future.
- Behavioral Issues: With no clear boundaries for behavior, children may exhibit behavioral problems such as aggression, defiance, and lack of impulse control due to the absence of consistent guidance and discipline.
- Academic Struggles: Kids may struggle academically due to a lack of support and encouragement for learning and education.
- Emotional Regulation Difficulties: Emotional neglect can hinder the development of emotional regulation skills, leading to difficulties managing and expressing emotions appropriately.
- Low Self-Esteem: Children may develop low self-esteem and feelings of unworthiness, as they may interpret the lack of parental involvement as a reflection of their value.
- Risk of Delinquency: Children with uninvolved parents might be more vulnerable to engaging in risky behaviors and delinquency to seek attention or fill emotional voids.
- Mental Health Concerns: Emotional neglect can contribute to mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and a sense of emptiness.
- Attachment Disorders: Extreme cases of uninvolved parenting can lead to attachment disorders, which can have lasting negative effects on a child's ability to form healthy relationships.
What are the 4 parenting styles?
Four well recognized parenting styles include, permissive parenting, authoritative parenting, uninvolved parenting, and uninvolved parenting. The pros and cons of parenting styles depend on each individual’s situation and implementation.
Which parenting style is better and why?
The authoritative parenting style is often considered one of the most effective and beneficial approaches for raising well-adjusted and emotionally healthy children. While there is no one-size-fits-all "best" parenting style, authoritative parenting has several qualities that contribute to its positive reputation:
- Balanced Approach: Authoritative parents attempt to strike a perfect balance between setting clear expectations and rules while also being responsive and nurturing. This balance helps children understand boundaries and consequences while feeling loved and supported.
- Positive Discipline: Authoritative parents use discipline methods that teach and guide rather than punish. This approach promotes understanding of consequences and encourages children to learn from their mistakes.
- Effective Communication: This style values open communication between parents and children. Children feel comfortable expressing their thoughts and feelings, which fosters trust and a strong parent-child bond.
- Encourages Independence: Authoritative parents encourage children to develop autonomy and make age-appropriate decisions. This promotes self-esteem, responsibility, and the development of critical thinking skills.
- Emotional Intelligence: By acknowledging and validating children's emotions, authoritative parents help their children develop emotional intelligence and healthy emotional regulation.
- Problem-Solving Skills: This style involves working together with children to solve problems and make decisions. Children learn to analyze situations, consider options, and make informed choices.
- Adaptability: Authoritative parents are often flexible and willing to adapt their parenting strategies to their child's individual needs and developmental stage.
- Positive Self-Esteem: The combination of clear expectations and warmth helps children develop a positive self-concept and a sense of self-worth.
- Academic Success: The emphasis on learning and education often leads to positive academic outcomes as children develop a strong work ethic and intrinsic motivation to succeed.
- Healthy Relationships: Children raised with authoritative parenting tend to have healthier relationships with peers and adults due to their well-developed communication and social skills.
The "best" parenting style is the one that aligns with your family's values, your child's temperament, and your unique circumstances. What's most important is creating a nurturing and supportive environment that promotes your child's well-being, emotional growth, and overall development.
What is the most positive parenting style?
The most positive parenting style is subjective and can vary based on individual family dynamics, cultural influences, and the unique needs of children. However, many experts and researchers consider the authoritative parenting style to be one of the most positive and effective approaches. This style combines warmth, responsiveness, and clear expectations to create a supportive and nurturing environment for children's growth and development.
What is the most healthy parenting style?
The most healthy parenting style is one that promotes the overall well-being, emotional development, and positive outcomes of children while fostering a strong and loving parent-child relationship. While different families and experts may have varying opinions on what constitutes the "most healthy" parenting style, many consider the authoritative parenting style to be particularly beneficial for children's long-term health and development. Authoritative parenting combines warmth, responsiveness, and clear boundaries to create a nurturing and supportive environment.
What parenting style has little to no consequences?
Both permissive and uninvolved parenting have little to no consequences. Permissive parents typically do not set boundaries or consistent consequences for a child’s misbehavior. Children of permissive parents may struggle to transition to traditional schooling as a result of unclear boundaries and expectations.
Children with permissive parents may also develop unhealthy habits around diet, screentime, and sleep patterns. This may be due to parents allowing their child to choose what snacks to eat, how much time to spend watching TV, and not having a consistent bed time.
How do parenting styles affect a child's mental health?
Parenting styles play a crucial role in shaping a child's mental health. The authoritative parenting style, characterized by a balance of warmth, clear boundaries, and positive discipline, tends to foster positive mental health outcomes. Children raised by authoritative parents often develop higher self-esteem, emotional regulation skills, and a reduced risk of anxiety and depression. The consistent yet empathetic approach of authoritative parenting contributes to a sense of security, open communication, and the ability to cope with challenges in a healthy manner.
Conversely, parenting styles like authoritarian parenting, marked by strict rules and punitive discipline, can lead to heightened anxiety and lower self-esteem in children due to the lack of emotional support. Permissive parenting may result in impulsivity and difficulties with self-discipline, potentially affecting the child's ability to manage emotions effectively. Uninvolved parenting, characterized by emotional neglect, can lead to feelings of abandonment and detachment, contributing to issues such as low self-worth and challenges forming healthy relationships. In essence, an emotionally responsive and balanced parenting approach that considers the child's psychological well-being and offers appropriate guidance is vital for fostering positive mental health outcomes.
What parenting style causes anxiety?
The authoritarian parenting style has been shown to increase anxiety in children. Parents who use authoritarian behavior to manage a child’s behavior typically use a mechanism of fear to maintain discipline, enacting harsh punishments for misbehavior. The authoritarian parent dictates rules and expectations to the child with the expectation that the child follows them without reasoning.
Children of authoritarian parents may become anxious due to expectations place on them by their parents. They also may worry about any disciplinary measures that may happen if they do not meet their parents expectations.
How negative parenting styles can affect your child?
Negative parenting styles can have a significant impact on a child's overall well-being and development. Here are some ways in which different negative parenting styles can affect children:
Low Self-Esteem: Children raised with strict rules and little room for autonomy may develop low self-esteem and feelings of inadequacy due to the constant focus on performance and obedience.
Fear of Failure: The fear of punishment can lead to a fear of failure, preventing children from taking healthy risks and exploring new experiences.
Rebellion or Resentment: Some children may rebel against the strict rules, leading to conflicts and strained parent-child relationships.
Impulsivity and Lack of Self-Discipline: Children raised with minimal boundaries and consequences may struggle with self-discipline, making impulsive decisions without considering the consequences.
Difficulty with Authority: The lack of structure can make it challenging for children to respect authority figures and adhere to rules in other contexts.
Insecurity: Children might feel insecure due to the absence of clear expectations and guidance, leading to a lack of direction and purpose.
Emotional Neglect: Children raised with neglectful parenting might experience emotional neglect, which can lead to feelings of loneliness, insecurity, and a lack of emotional regulation skills.
Attachment Issues: The absence of emotional support and guidance can result in attachment issues and difficulties forming healthy relationships.
Academic and Behavioral Challenges: Lack of parental involvement can contribute to academic strugglesn and behavioral issues for elementary through college students, as children lack consistent guidance and encouragement.
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