How Parenting Style can Promote Behavioral Skills
By Emmie Marsili, Graduate Social Work Intern
What is your parenting style? This is a crucial question to ask oneself when becoming a parent. There’s a gap between the kind of parenting one defaults to and the kind of parenting one wants to be. It has been shown in many studies the type of parenting style will have a major impact on children (Carroll, 2022). The type of parenting style one uses on a child will have an impact on cognitive development, physical and emotional health, personality, and overall success of the child. There are three identified parenting styles that you may recognize in yourself throughout your parenting journey like permissive, authoritarian, and authoritative.
Pros of Differing Parenting Styles
Parenting is challenging at times especially when there are a million decisions to make in a day about your child. Decisions like, do you let them pick their own clothing choices, have them help out in the kitchen, or give into what they want when they are having a tantrum? Day in and day out as parents, there are split-second decisions that are being made that show the kind of parents we are.
A parent could exemplify authoritarian parenting style which means they focus on strict rules, obedience and discipline. Some results from having an authoritarian parent is lack of ability to make one’s own decisions, low self-esteem, and highly rebellious when outside of parent’s control. For example a child wants to play outside but you are busy with work, therefore as an authoritarian parent, you would say, “no” without explanation, and expect the child to be obedient.
Another style of parenting is permissive which is when parents act like the child’s friend and cater to their child’s every desire with little to no discipline. As a result of this parenting style they lack responsibility, often impulsive in their decision making, and cause anxiety. In the same scenario, your child wants to play outside so you let them without giving them any boundaries for safety so they play on the streets where they could get hurt.
Then there is the authoritative parenting style which is when caregivers provide children with boundaries but also give children freedom to make their own decisions. This type of parenting provided kids to be nurtured and understand responsibilities, and self confidence. For example in the circumstance of your child wanting to play outside but you are busy, so as an authoritative parent you tell them, “in 20 minutes we will go outside and play but tell them, you could play in the playroom or watch a cartoon.” With this type of parenting, it offers them an understanding of why they can’t do something in the moment, control, and respect you as a parent.
In all these three parenting styles there are some circumstances that call parents to be authoritarian or permissive. For example, when a child runs into oncoming traffic, that would be the time to be authoritarian because they need to be safe. Then there are situations where parents could be permissive like when a child wants to wear a striped shirt with polka dot pants because a child needs to feel that they have some control and the decision they are making isn’t harmful to them or others.
As parents, there are times when we can be permissive or authoritarian but the goal should be to achieve an authoritative parenting style for the majority because it provides support and authority for the child. In addition, studies have shown parenting style is linked to children with improving psychosocial maturity and less externalizing problems that are often authoritative (Paul, 2022), which is why it is important to be an authoritative parent. Being an authoritative parent means responding to their needs and giving them the necessary support that they need to achieve their goals. In addition, children value “parental responsiveness” because it helps them with school performance and provides a smooth transition through their years of grouping up (Parameswari, 2022). In having a supportive parent, a child will be able to safely explore the world and seek out their maximum potential. With an authoritative parenting style, it will most likely mean children will likely have better outcomes in terms of health, emotional, and social development (Riany, 2022). Therefore it is beneficial to have an authoritative parenting style whenever possible because it promotes healthy growth for your child.
Stress Affecting Your Parenting Styles
Parenting is no easy task and there are often a million other things influencing one’s role of being a parent. One of the biggest influences that has been found to influence parenting styles is stress. Studies done by Riany have shown high levels of parental mood are correlated with poorer child outcomes. In addition, parental stress and negative parenting style have a huge effect on children’s negative behaviors (2022). For example, at the end of a stressful workday, it’s really difficult to show some of the characteristics of authoritative parenting. When your child does something you don’t want them to do; it’s easier to be authoritarian in yelling at them or permissive towards their behavior. Therefore it is suggested that parents find a small time frame throughout their day to destress. For parents to destress, they could effectively use the car ride from work to home or go on a short walk. It is just as important to take care of your child as it is to take care of yourselves.
In addition, Carapito’s study shows how parenting stress has a direct effect on parenting styles and associated behavior (2020). This was proven in another study by Mak who suggested, parents who experience high levels of stress were likely to exemplify an authoritarian parenting style (2020). The correlation between authoritarian parenting and stress is high due to stress leading to impatience which often means more yelling toward your child. Therefore to provide optimum parenting, one needs to be aware of their stress levels and to take care of yourself. In parenting there are numerous situations that come up, so it’s important to recognize you are doing the best you can in the moment rather than permissive or authoritarian parenting styles and that it is normal.
Cons of Differing Parenting Styles
Another reason parenting style is important is because it may be linked to a child’s lagging skills. Studies have shown that an “overly punitive style… has been linked to increases in both internalizing and externalizing behavior (Carroll, 2022).” This is due to an authoritarian parenting style diminishing a child’s confidence and not giving them the space to learn from their choices. Children like any of us like to have control, choices, and a sense of freedom that the authoritarian parenting style doesn’t offer. Therefore, kids will lash out and not listen to anyone with authority including teachers. It is crucial for kids at a young age to learn the balance of when it’s important to listen to authority but also to learn to advocate for themselves. It is important for parents to note when they can be flexible. For example if your child wants a toy from another kid, using language like, “can they have it in three minutes or five minutes.” This allows them to have a choice and some control while giving you authority also.
In another study by Carapito, there have been findings that permissive parenting is also related to higher internalizing problems (2020) and authoritarian parenting style is one of the strongest predictors for child emotional and behavioral maladjustment (Riany, 2022). Oftentimes authoritarian parenting style is about results and demands but doesn’t allow children to make mistakes. In addition, the authoritarian parenting style doesn’t give a lot of support for kids which children act out to gain support for their behavior.
Cultural Considerations and Kids with Diagnosis
At Tuesday’s Child, there are multitudes of people we serve of all kinds of different backgrounds. Therefore it’s important to be aware of cultural differences and how parenting style affects children depending on their backgrounds. For example, children with autism struggle with sensory, speech, and mood instability are often in need of more support therefore parents have been found to be more controlling and exhibit more negative parenting behaviors compared to parents of neurotypical children (Greenlee, 2022). This is caused by the many responsibilities and demands when it comes to taking care of a child who has challenges like autism.
Another aspect to consider is cultural differences. For example, it has been found that an authoritative parenting style is more positive for child outcomes in Western countries than in east asian countries (Mak, 2020). Some cultures thrive on strict traditions and have high demands like achieving all A’s. In addition, authoritarianism is found to have implications on negative child outcomes but positive child outcomes among Asian children (Riany, 2022). It has been found Western culture tends to lean on the more emotionally supportive aspect of parenting while Asian cultures expect achievements from their children. It’s crucial to understand how certain parenting styles like authoritarianism are more traditional in east Asian cultures but have a positive impact. When looking at parenting styles it’s important to understand the culture of the family and the history of parenting styles when considering making changes.
Where to go From Here
It’s important to reflect on your child’s temperament and your own so that you can establish what kind of parenting style will work best for your child. It will also be good to take notes on what you struggle with and how outside influences impact your parenting style. By learning more about yourself and your child, you are one step closer to implementing a positive parenting style of which it will lead to a decrease in conflict for everyone and better problem and social skills.
Carapito, E., Ribeiro, M. T., Pereira, A. I., & Roberto, M. S. (2020). Parenting stress and preschoolers’ socio-emotional adjustment: the mediating role of parenting styles in parent–child dyads. Journal of Family Studies, 26(4), 594–610. https://doi-org.libproxy.boisestate.edu/10.1080/13229400.2018.1442737
Carroll, P. (2022). Effectiveness of Positive Discipline Parenting Program on Parenting Style, and Child Adaptive Behavior. Child Psychiatry & Human Development, 53(6), 1349–1358. https://doi-org.libproxy.boisestate.edu/10.1007/s10578-021-01201-x
Greenlee, J. L., Piro, G. B., Putney, J., Papp, L. M., & Hartley, S. L. (2022). Marital satisfaction, parenting styles, and child outcomes in families of autistic children. Family Process, 61(2), 941–961. https://doi-org.libproxy.boisestate.edu/10.1111/famp.12708
Harris, N., & Pardee, L. (2023, August 17). What’s your parenting style? Parents. https://www.parents.com/parenting/better-parenting/style/parenting-styles-explained/
Mak, M. C. K., Yin, L., Li, M., Cheung, R. Y., & Oon, P.-T. (2020). The Relation between Parenting Stress and Child Behavior Problems: Negative Parenting Styles as Mediator. Journal of Child & Family Studies, 29(11), 2993–3003. https://doi-org.libproxy.boisestate.edu/10.1007/s10826-020-01785-3
Parameswari, J., & Haima, K. (2022). Parenting Style: Does it affect Adolescents’ Social and Adaptive Functioning? Journal of Psychosocial Research, 17(2), 403–413. https://doi-org.libproxy.boisestate.edu/10.32381/JPR.2022.17.02.13
Riany, Y. E., Haslam, D. M., & Sanders, M. (2022). Parental Mood, Parenting Style and Child Emotional and Behavioural Adjustment: Australia-Indonesia Cross-Cultural Study. Journal of Child & Family Studies, 31(9), 2331–2343. https://doi-org.libproxy.boisestate.edu/10.1007/s10826-021-02137-5