1. Health
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Parenting Styles

Parenting Tips

By

Updated December 13, 2004

Find Your Style Of Parenting

There are many ideas about how to rear children. Some parents adopt the ideas their own parents used. Others get advice from friends. Some read books about parenting. Others take classes offered in the community. No one has all the answers. However, psychologists and other social scientists now know what parenting practices are most effective and are more likely to lead to positive outcomes for children.

Ideas about child rearing can be grouped into three styles. These are different ways of deciding who is responsible for what in a family.

Authoritarian

Authoritarian parents always try to be in control and exert their control on the children. These parents set strict rules to try to keep order, and they usually do this without much expression of warmth and affection. They attempt to set strict standards of conduct and are usually very critical of children for not meeting those standards. They tell children what to do, they try to make them obey and they usually do not provide children with choices or options.

Authoritarian parents don't explain why they want their children to do things. If a child questions a rule or command, the parent might answer, "Because I said so." Parents tend to focus on bad behavior, rather than positive behavior, and children are scolded or punished, often harshly, for not following the rules.

Children with authoritarian parents usually do not learn to think for themselves and understand why the parent is requiring certain behaviors.

Permissive

Permissive parents give up most control to their children. Parents make few, if any, rules, and the rules that they make are usually not consistently enforced. They don't want to be tied down to routines. They want their children to feel free. They do not set clear boundaries or expectations for their children's behavior and tend to accept in a warm and loving way, however the child behaves.

Permissive parents give children as many choices as possible, even when the child is not capable of making good choices. They tend to accept a child's behavior, good or bad, and make no comment about whether it is beneficial or not. They may feel unable to change misbehavior, or they choose not to get involved.

Democratic Or Authoritative

Democratic parents help children learn to be responsible for themselves and to think about the consequences of their behavior. Parents do this by providing clear, reasonable expectations for their children and explanations for why they expect their children to behave in a particular manner. They monitor their children's behavior to make sure that they follow through on rules and expectations. They do this in a warm and loving manner. They often, "try to catch their children being good" and reinforcing the good behavior, rather than focusing on the bad.

For example, a child who leaves her toys on a staircase may be told not to do this because, "Someone could trip on them and get hurt and the toy might be damaged." As children mature, parents involve children in making rules and doing chores: "Who will mop the kitchen floor, and who will carry out the trash?"

Parents who have a democratic style give choices based on a child's ability. For a toddler, the choice may be "red shirt or striped shirt?" For an older child, the choice might be "apple, orange or banana?" Parents guide children's behavior by teaching, not punishing. "You threw your truck at Mindy. That hurt her. We're putting your truck away until you can play with it safely."

Which Is Your Style?

Maybe you are somewhere in between. Think about what you want your children to learn. Research on children's development shows that the most positive outcomes for children occur when parents use democratic styles. Children with permissive parents tend to be aggressive and act out, while children with authoritarian parents tend to be compliant and submissive and have low self-esteem.

No parenting style will work unless you build a loving bond with your child.

These tips were reproduced from the U.S. Department of Education.

View more Infant Parenting Tips.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.

We comply with the HONcode standard
for trustworthy health
information: verify here.