How Parenting Styles Impact Children

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Parenting styles have a profound effect on how a child developments. Researchers have conducted numerous studies assessing the impact of parenting styles on children.

  • Authoritarian parents are associated with children who are obedient and proficient, but have lower happiness, social competence and self-esteem. Their motivation often comes from meeting their parent’s expectations, rather than being internally motivated to succeed themselves.
  • Authoritative parents  tend to raise children who are happy, capable and successful. They have high levels of self-esteem. However their confidence levels can sometimes exceed their abilities, as they seek internal gratification, rather than meeting external expectations.
  • Permissive parenting often results in children who rank low in happiness and self-regulation. These children can experience problems with authority and tend to perform poorly in school. However in some cultures, permissive parenting is linked to high academic outcomes and levels of creativity.
  • Uninvolved parents are associated with children who rank lowest across all life areas. These children tend to lack self-control, have low self-esteem and are less competent than their peers.


There is no universally “best” parenting style. While there is correlative evidence that a particular parenting style is linked to a certain behavioral outcomes, other important variables such as a child’s temperament and cultural influences play a major role.

In Spain, permissive parenting is associated with strong academic performance, while in European American families, authoritative parenting is consistently linked with positive behavioral outcomes, but is not related to better school performance among African American or Asian American youngsters.

Having a rigid parenting style can also have deleterious consequences. Parents with authoritative styles may have children who become defiant or who engage in delinquent behavior, while parents with permissive styles can have children who are self-confident and academically successful.

Ultimately parents must adapt their parenting style to the needs of their individual children and family by learning to appropriately balance their level of parental support and control.
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