July 22, 2024

Understanding the Four Parenting Styles

However different children are, the diverse characteristics and behaviors that they exhibit often stem from the relationships and interactions between them and their parents. Dr. Laurence Steinberg emphasizes the importance of being a good parent in shaping a child’s emotional and behavioral development. Therefore, it is crucial to examine different parenting styles to determine which one you employ with your child.

Diana Baumrind, a developmental psychologist, has identified four various parenting styles that differ in their approach to raising children.


According to statistics, around 46% of US parents use the authoritative style, 26% are authoritarian, approximately 18% tend to be permissive, while 10% mostly act in the neglectful manner. Each style has its own unique characteristics, and parents should better understand how the approach they use can affect their child’s growth and well-being.

  1. Authoritative parents are kind, caring and supportive, but it doesn’t mean that they don’t set boundaries for their children. They do, by talking, persuasion and explaining rules and norms to control their kids’ behavior. They listen to their children, but they won’t tolerate bad behavior. An example of this kind of parenting is Mirabel’s parents in Disney Animation Movie Encanto. Even though Mirabel is the weakest member of her family and other relatives discourage her from acting actively, her parents believe in her and support her when she decides to help her family in a difficult situation. Children raised this way are usually happy, energetic, and good at controlling themselves. They are also friendly and work well with others.

You are an authoritative parent if you act like this:

  • You try to be friends with your kid and make them feel good;
  • You explain your kid why you set certain rules and why following them is necessary and beneficial for them;
  • You don’t ignore your kid’s feelings when you make rules;
  • You care about your kid’s education and do a lot of learning activities together like playing educational games, drawing coloring pages or solving the educational worksheets.
  • You employ a system of both rewards and punishments with a focus on positive reinforcement.


  1. Permissive parenting is a type of parenting style where parents are warm and affectionate, but not strict and do not set firm limits for their children. This can lead to a lack of monitoring and to inappropriate behavior. Parents who practice permissive parenting tend to assume a friend’s role, not a parent’s role in the relationship with their children. They tend to avoid conflicts by accommodating all their child’s wishes. An illustration of this style is Regina George’s mom from the teen comedy Mean Girls. She lets her daughter do as she pleases – stay out late, drink alcohol, and make all the decisions about her life. She sees herself as a cool mom, but such relations look good only on the outside, as they negatively affect a child’s behavior.  Children brought up in this way often possess self-discipline, yet they may display impulsiveness, defiance, and hostility.

Here are the indications that you might be a permissive parent:

  • While you might have some rules, you don’t really make sure they are followed;
  • Your kid doesn’t really face any serious consequences for their wrongdoings or not following rules;
  • You tend to think that your child will fare better without your interference;
  • Your child views you as their closest pal;
  • You typically defend your child’s actions as being age-appropriate.


  1. Neglectful parents are often absent or uninvolved, providing minimal guidance to their children and showing little responsiveness. While these parents may seem uncaring, their perceived indifference can stem from their own struggles. If you’ve seen The Fairly Odd Parents cartoon, you might recognize Timmy Turner’s parents as neglectful. They don’t seem to care that their son is being mistreated by his babysitter and are oblivious to the situations he gets into. They offer Timmy minimal guidance, which is why he has fairy godparents. Children raised in this manner may develop low self-esteem and lack self-confidence.


Signs of a neglectful parent: 

  • You don’t tend to spend much time with your kid;
  • You don’t talk to your kid much, don’t ask how their day was or how they’re doing in school;
  • You don’t know their friends or who they spend time with;
  • You don’t show much interest in their activities.


  1. Authoritarian parents are strict and impose harsh rules and punishments on their children. They tend to dismiss their child’s concerns and worries. A good example of this parenting style is Queen Elinor from the animated movie Brave. Her daughter, Princess Merida, is expected to become the next queen of the kingdom and learn the etiquette and rules required for the role. However, Merida prefers to spend time in the wild, practicing archery and climbing. When her parents insist on arranging a marriage for her with a prince from another clan, Merida disobeys. Authoritarian parents do care for their children, but they are not likely to be affectionate or show it. Children raised in this style tend to have low self-esteem, rely on others for validation, and struggle with social skills. They may also have lower academic performance and be more susceptible to mental health issues.


If you’re an authoritarian parent, here are some likely signs:

  • You might believe that your child’s opinion is irrelevant;
  • You think that things should always go your way;
  • You don’t care what your child feels;
  • Your child attempts to behave in a way that keeps you from getting angry with them;
  • Your child has fear of you.

A team of researchers redefined Baumrind’s four parenting styles by creating two categories: “responsiveness” and “demandingness.” 

Responsiveness refers to how much parents encourage their children’s individuality, self-regulation, and self-assertion by being attentive, supportive, and responsive to their special needs and requests.

Demandingness refers to the expectations that parents have for their children to be integrated into the family unit, including their demands for maturity, supervision, discipline, and the parents’ willingness to confront disobedient behavior. 

Striking a balance between responsiveness and demandingness is crucial to developing a positive relationship with your child and promoting their growth.

Combining Styles

The way parents raise their children has a profound impact on their future. You may need to change your parenting style if it doesn’t work well for you and your child. You should be flexible and change your style according to the situation. For instance, if your style is authoritative, you may need to be more permissive when your child gets sick by providing more comfort. Conversely, permissive parents might need to be more demanding when it comes to their child’s safety, such as crossing the street, not talking to strangers, or going out at night. 

Nonetheless, experts consider that the most effective parenting style is authoritative. According to a 1999 study by Dr. Anne Fletcher and her colleagues, even having just one authoritative parent significantly benefits teenagers, regardless of the other parent’s style.

The Many Influences on a Child’s Development

The way you parent your child is important, but it’s not the only factor that affects their development. The people your child interacts with and their school environment also have an impact on their behavior. Even if you are an authoritative and caring parent, a harmful school environment may still encourage negative behaviors in your teen.

Additionally, genetics and prenatal conditions can also influence your child’s development. These factors can affect their temperament, level of aggression, and even interests. For instance, genetic predisposition may be triggered by environmental factors and cause a child to have frequent tantrums.


The Bottom Line

Being consistent is crucial for being an effective parent. It’s important to take into account your child’s feelings and circumstances, such as their age, health, and mental state, when establishing rules and limits. Make sure that you can follow through with those rules, no matter the circumstances. Ultimately, your intuition will guide you, but always keep communication open with your child. Remember that parenting style is a significant factor that can influence your child’s behavior, mental health, and emotional wellness. 

You can find more information on different aspects of a child’s development on a regularly updated parenting blog on the Kids Academy website. The blog offers a variety of useful and insightful materials created by expert educators to offer parents high-quality guidance on various facets of a child’s growth and education.

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