3 Parenting Styles: Their impact on the child

In this post, Penni Osborn, resident Counsellor and Therapist for adult individuals at Anglia Counselling, takes a look at three defined parenting styles and how they may impact the child.


Background

In the 1960’s, the research of clinical and developmental psychologist Dr Diana Baumrind led her to define three types of parenting styles; authoritative, authoritarian and permissive. Below we take a look at Dr Baumrind’s three styles and their possible impact on the child:-

Authoritative

Considered the best of all the parenting styles, the authoritative approach combines nurture and validation with rules and discipline. The authoritative parent is considerate of the child’s feelings and opinions and allows them to make their own decisions, but within firm, defined limits. They explain consequences and set strong boundaries. This type of parent typically uses positive discipline – rather than harsh punishments – through rewarding and reinforcing positive behaviour.

Why it’s the best: authoritative parenting allows the child to grow with confidence and healthy self- esteem. It teaches them the skills for sound decision making, regulating impulses and the ability to express emotions in a healthy way. Children raised in this kind of environment tend to build close, loving relationships and are happy, resourceful and confident.

The authoritative parenting style is considered to be the best.

Authoritarian

Authoritarian parents tend to be very rigid and strict. Their expectations of their children can be high – perhaps even unachievable – and they can resort to harsh punishment when a child fails to obey their rules. In an authoritarian home, the parent’s rules are non-negotiable. The child’s feelings or opinions are not considered and they are expected to ‘do as they are told’ without explanation; rules are to be obeyed without question.

Why it’s not the best: authoritarian parenting can shut down a child’s emotional growth and prevent them developing a healthy sense of self. They may have difficulty making their own decisions as they haven’t had the opportunity to practice this and may struggle in social situations. Because they are not being seen, heard or validated as individuals, children of authoritarian parents may experience feelings of anger and hostility that are acted out outside of the home.

Permissive

The complete opposite to authoritarian parenting, the permissive parent rarely enforces any kind of rules. This style of parenting is inconsistent when it comes to discipline and setting boundaries with very little following through when it comes to learning consequences – the child often ‘gets off the hook’ easily which is a missed opportunity for learning self-regulation. Permissive parents can be indulgent, rarely saying ‘no’, preferring instead to be like a kind, generous friend rather than an authoritative parent.

Why it’s not the best: children raised by permissive parents can grow to become entitled, having learned that they can pretty much always get their own way. They can exhibit poor self-discipline and laziness and lack the skills to be accountable for their behaviour. They may also struggle to be resourceful and independent, preferring instead for others to do things for them. These children may struggle with authority outside of the home.

In Summary

This post is just a brief snapshot of parenting styles – there are of course many different ways in which we can choose to parent. An article which explores parenting styles in greater depth, can be found at Parents.com and there are many other resources available including online forums, blogs, support groups and books that can support and inform your parenting journey.


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About the author
Counsellor Penni Osborn
Penni Osborn
Penni Osborn is a counsellor working at Anglia Counselling Ltd where she meets with adults, offering kind and compassionate help with anxiety, depression, CEN and difficult or overwhelming emotions, both online and in person. Penni also offers non-judgemental support and guidance for those seeking to explore their experiences in order to achieve enhanced personal growth, positive change and greater happiness.