Parenting Styles & The Impact on Child Development

​Parenting can be tough, and when it comes to being a parent there are so many great ways in how a parent chooses to raise a child. At the same time, there are also many common factors across parents that researchers have categorized parents into four parenting styles.
For many parents, from the time they find out that they are going to have a child, the general first instinct that forms in the mind is: wanting to do all that they can do to ensure their child gets all the nutrients and care needed, and to ensure safe and healthy delivery. After a child is born, parents already have in mind an idea of how they want their child to be raised, and all the things that they want to do to make sure their child has the best health and overall development.

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Parenting style in a nutshell is “defined as a constellation of parents’ attitudes and behaviors toward children and an emotional climate in which the parents’ behaviors are expressed” (Bi et al., 2018). Your parenting style will impact your child’s development into adulthood, and as such, your parenting style must be one that will foster growth and positive development. How you interact and discipline your child will influence them for the rest of their lives.


The term, Parenting style was developed by Developmental Psychologist Diana Baumrind. Her research was based on the observation of preschoolers and parent interaction, where she noticed that children’s behaviors and outcomes were highly correlated to different parenting styles. After doing extensive research, observation, interviews, and analyses, Buamrind identified different parenting styles that impacted a child’s behavior and development.

So what are these 4 parenting Styles you ask? Let’s find out!

  • Authoritative
  • Authoritarian
  • Permissive
  • Uninvolved/Neglectful


What it is:
Parents are big on discipline and obedience. They expect their orders and rules to be followed without questions. They use punishment or make threats to punish as a way to control their child.
What it looks like:
Parents who use this style very seldomly take input from their child. They may feel as though kids should not be heard and should know their place. They would say things like “because I said so, don’t ask me why”.   Authoritarian parents feel that kids should follow the rules no questions asked and consequences are given without explanation.  Authoritarian parents are more focused on obedience and have little regard for their child’s feelings and opinions. Punishment is usually given more so than discipline. Parents are not very nurturing and responsive.
What can be the possible impact on your child’s development?

  • They withdraw their affections toward the parent
  • They feel less independence
  • Develops low self-esteem
  • Frequently engages in challenging behaviors
  • Have poor social skills
  • Prone to develop mental illnesses
  • Likely to develop unhealthy coping skills
  • Have possible low academic performance


What it is:

Parents encourage their children to be responsible and they put a conscious effort into building and maintaining a positive parent-child relationship. There are rules and consequences, but it is explained to the child, and the child’s feelings are always considered. Parents are open and accepting of discussions and reasoning with their children.  They are affectionate and supportive, and independence is encouraged.
What it looks like:
Authoritative parents are involved, sets rules, and have consequences. They consider their child’s opinions, validate their feelings, but at the same time make it clear who is the parent, who is the child, and that adults are in charge. Authoritative parents spend time and energy into raising their children and also focus on preventing problem behaviors from happening. Their disciplinary actions are done in a way to reinforce positive behavior.
What can be the possible impact on your child’s development?

  • Your child learns about self-awareness
  • Your child is raised knowing and understanding what morals, values, and goals are
  • They develop independence
  • They are happy – have a positive frame of mind
  • Interact with peers well.
  • Very good social skills
  • Better mental health (less anxiety, depression, or poor impulse control)
  • Engages in little challenging behaviors
  • Prone to achieve academic success
  • Active
  • Feels secure
  • Develops Good decision making and problem-solving skills


What it is:

Parents are involved, they are warm and loving, but reluctant to enforce rules. There are no consequences for negative behaviors.
What it looks like:
Permissive parents are warm, nurturing, and loving, but are very sparing and set little rules. They are not big on enforcing rules and tend to take on a friend role as opposed to a parent role.  Permissive parents will encourage their children to talk about their feelings or concerns, but little effort is made to discourage bad behavior or poor choices. Permissive parents often let their children do what they want and provide little guidance.  They are very forgiving and may say things like “oh they’re just kids”.  Permissive parents not follow through on consequences and give in if their child makes a promise to be on their best behavior.  No limits or boundaries are set and children’s activities are not monitored appropriately.

What can be the possible impact on your child’s development?

  • Difficulty in maintaining and keeping relationships
  • Difficulty in social interactions.
  • Difficulty following rules
  • Poor impulse control (not being able to control their impulses)
  • Experience feelings of sadness


What it is:

Parents offer little to no emotional support and fail to provide structure and routine. Parents provide little to no guidance, nurture, or attention to their child. Parents spend little to no time with the child and their basic needs are rarely ever met.
What it looks like:
Uninvolved parents do not take the time out to provide emotional support to their child and have little interest in what is going on in their child’s life. For example, they do not ask how their child’s day went at school, if homework was given or how their child is feeling emotionally. Uninvolved parents invest little time to meet their child’s basic needs and communication is limited. The parent-child relationship is very poor/nonexistent. Uninvolved parents may also lack basic knowledge about child development. Uninvolved parents may also struggle with being overwhelmed with other things that they are not able to tend to their child adequately (working, managing the house, paying bills, mental illness).

What can be the possible impact on your child’s development?

  • Poor impulse control (not being able to control their impulses)
  • Not able to self-regulate their emotions especially unpleasant ones
  • Mental health issues are known to possibly develop during the teenage years (self-harm, suicidal thoughts and/or suicidal ideation, depression)
  • Prone to have low self-esteem
  • Not happy


No one will fit perfectly into one particular parenting style because many factors contribute to a child’s development and their outcome apart from parenting styles.
Such factors are:

  • The child’s cultural and ethnic background
  • The child’s temperament
  • The influence of the child’s peers
  • What the child is exposed to in school and/or other environments

​Let’s take a look at culture and parenting styles for example. A study done on Mainland Chinese cultures found that their Authoritarian parenting style promoted parental acceptance and responsiveness (Xu, et al., 2005). Another study found that both permissive parenting and authoritative parenting in Spanish families had a positive impact on child development.

​I was born in the Caribbean and most parents from there tend to be authoritarian in some respects as opposed to authoritative. In my household, my parents’ parenting style is opposite even to this day (they were both born and raised in the Caribbean as well). My father is authoritative, while my mother is more so on the authoritarian side most of the time. My mother is Super big on discipline, punishment, and obedience. For example, we weren’t allowed to ask why questions (God bless my siblings and I if we did), and opinions at times didn’t matter. My father on the other hand was not big on punishment and always explained the reasons for consequences. Despite the differences in parenting style, it balanced out well, as my overall development was not impacted in a negative way (at least I don’t think lol). They are equally loving, nurturing, caring, and are always on the same page working as a team.


Taking a look at where you fit across these different parenting styles is helpful to know. Taking the time to self-reflect, talk with other parents, and have a supportive community around you, can be beneficial. Sometimes as a parent you may have to be authoritarian, permissive, and other times authoritative depending on what is going around you.

Your parenting style is not the only determining factor that will decide the outcome of your child’s development. However, what research has suggested is that there is a correlation between different parenting styles and how your child’s development is impacted. Authoritative parenting is considered to be the best parenting style because though parents enforce rules, disciplines and have consequences, parents are more so involved, attached, nurturing, loving, and there is open communication. As long as you are dedicated and committed to being the best parent you can be to your child and overall development, you will have a positive parent-child relationship.

Interested in knowing what your parenting style is? Take this test to find out.



American Psychological Association (2017). Parenting styles.

Bi, X.; Yang, Y.; Li, H.; Wang, M.; Zhang, W.; Deater-Deckard, K. Parenting styles and parent–adolescent relationships: The mediating roles of behavioral autonomy and parental authority. Front. Psychol. 2018, 9, 2187
Bright Horizons (2020). What is my parenting style? Four types of parenting [article].
Carter, D., & Welch, D. (1981). Parenting Styles and Children’s Behavior. Family Relations, 30(2), 191-195. doi:10.2307/584130
Dewar, G. (2018). Parenting styles: an evidenced-based, cross cultural guide [article].

Rebekah Charles

Rebekah Charles

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