Parenting Styles and How They Affect Children

It may be that your parenting style has been influenced by your own upbringing in that you either bring your children up in a similar way to the way you were brought up, or you make a determined effort to bring them up differently. There is no doubt that parenting styles have a significant impact on child development and subsequently on behavior  Parenting styles are a unique and personal thing that may be adapted to suit particular situations. To categories them may be generalizing what is after all a very complex subject. But very broadly, they fall into three main areas.


Authoritarian Parenting

This is a very dictatorial style of parenting that usually involves strict adherence to a set of rules laid out by parents with little in the way of negotiation or explanation. There is normally, a clear set of boundaries that when crossed, will lead to punishment. This means that a child clearly understands what is expected of them and also the consequences of stepping outside of those boundaries. The problem is that although the child may understand that the boundaries exist, they are unlikely to know why they exist. Authoritative parenting often results in good behaviour in the home and also a reasonable amount of security. Clearly defined boundaries do provide consistency which is one important ingredient to making a child feel secure.

The downside to authoritarian parenting is that because the child has not had much experience of creating their own behavioural boundaries, as a teenager they may become susceptible to negative peer pressure and a desire to “break out” which can lead to problems of delinquency. Additionally, this style is often leads to the child feeling remote and unloved which can lead to problems with low self-esteem.

Authoritative Parenting

Acknowledged as the style of parenting most likely to have the best outcomes, authoritative parenting is very similar to authoritarian parenting in that there is a clear set of boundaries and rules in place that define how a child is expected to behave and the punishment for stepping outside of the rules. However the authoritative style differs in that parents who adopt this style are likely to be much more receptive to input from the child and also prepared to negotiate. This is thought to be a much healthier and more productive way of parenting. A study conducted by the University of New Hampshire attributed this to the fact that this method of parenting gives parents “parental legitimacy” in the eyes of the child. The study concluded that parental legitimacy is a significant contributing factor to good behaviour because it does not control behaviour through punishment and rewards and therefore boundaries being observed are less dependent on the actual physical presence of the parent.

Permissive Parenting

Permissive parenting is less about imposing strict rules and boundaries and more about the parent becoming a friend to their child. This is a well intention-ed form of parenting that is likely to shower the child with love and affection regardless of behavior  Unfortunately this does not seem to be very effective in moderating behavior and can lead to a spoiled child liable to tantrums or temper outbursts on the occasions when they are confronted on behavior or denied what they want. A lack of, or inconsistently applied boundaries normally leads to insecurity on the part of the child. They do not fully understand what is expected of them in any given situation and constantly push to see if they can find out where the boundaries do actually lie.

To find the most effective parenting style, it seems that you must take a little pinch of all three styles. A child needs the security of clearly defined boundaries and consequences from authoritarian parenting, the request for input, feedback and communication derived from the authoritative style and plenty of the unconditional love that is clearly apparent in permissive parenting. More information concerning technological aspects can be found on the Vodafone Parents’ Guide.

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