Our parenting style refers to various elements of parenting such as warmth and nurturing, communication, control and disciplinary strategies

Research over the past few decades highlights four main parenting styles:

• Authoritarian
• Authoritative
• Permissive
• Uninvolved

Authoritarian parenting

These parents believe that children should follow strict rules which have been established by them and are not open to negotiation. They don’t see the need to explain the rules and disobedience usually leads to punishment. When asked why… “Because I said so!”

This parenting style focuses on obedience so children are usually not encouraged to engage in problem-solving or decision-making. Rather, focus is on pointing out mistakes and enforcing the consequences of these.

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As a result, children of authoritarian parents have been found to be at higher risk of experiencing lower self-esteem because their opinions have hardly been valued. While these children may grow to be obedient and proficient, they rank lower in happiness, tend to be more aggressive and struggle socially.

Authoritative parenting

Like authoritarian parents, these parents also have rules and consequences, however they are open to their children’s opinions and take these into account. They are good at validating their children’s feelings and managing issues before they worsen.

Authoritative parents use positive reinforcement and positive discipline strategies to encourage good behaviour rather than punishment.

These parents put a lot of effort into maintaining positive relationships with their children and don’t mind explaining what they do to their children.

Research has found that children with authoritative parents tend be independent, responsible and develop good self-control and self-regulation skills. Because these parents are reasonable and fair, children are likely to comply with rules and requests, and they are easily able to internalis e the lessons they’ve been taught because they were explained properly. Children of authoritative parents have also been found to be happier, capable and successful later in life.

Authoritative parents use positive reinforcement and positive discipline strategies to encourage good behaviour rather than punishment

Permissive parenting

While we may not want to be too strict, we also don’t want to become permissive. Permissive parents are too lenient and only step in when there is a serious problem. Believing that “kids will be kids”, these parents are forgiving and are not consistent with implementing consequences.

For example, they may give in when a child begs and promises not to do something “bad” again. Children could see their parents as more of a peer/friend than an authority figure, realising that they can get away with more than they should.

Children with permissive parents tend to struggle in school, they display behavioural problems and struggle with authority and rules. They could also experience more feelings of sadness and struggle with their self-esteem.

Importantly, these children may struggle with health issues as they’re often left to consume junk food freely and won’t necessarily have good habits enforced (e.g. brushing teeth before bed).

Uninvolved parenting

This style of parenting refers to parents who don’t know much about what’s happening with their children – they don’t ask about homework, friends or school. These parents do not spend much time with their children, and sometimes don’t know where their child is or who their child is with. There are very few rules, poor communication and there is generally very limited parental attention, guidance or nurturing.

Children are expected to “raise themselves” as parents may not have the energy to meet their children’s needs (e.g. parents with mental health issues/a substance abuse problem/overwhelmed parents).

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Children with uninvolved parents have been found to have low self-esteem, they perform poorly in school and show frequent behavioural issues. These children also struggle with self-control and positive emotions, which affect their ability to relate to peers and other adults.

In conclusion, it’s important to note that while the above parenting styles are structured guidelines in understanding how our parenting affects our children, other factors such as culture, our children’s temperament and social background also play important roles in parenting dynamics and parent-child relationships.