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4 Different Types of Child-Rearing Styles

By Christina Schnell ; Updated September 26, 2017
Firm but lovingly enforced rules fall under the authoritative parenting style.

Parenting is challenging enough, but the battles you pick, the praise you give and the issues you feel are important help determine your child-rearing style, explains the New York University Child Development Center. Key factors associated with child-rearing styles include warmth, rules, behavior control, supportive responsiveness and expectations. Parenting styles affect children's traits such as achievement, independence, curiosity, self-reliance, self-control and friendliness.

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Authoritarian child-rearing emphasizes obedience above all else. Sensitivity to the individual child or circumstances is not part of the authoritarian approach. Authoritarian parents aim to control children's behavior through constant direction and swift consequences. According to Dr. Gwen Dewar of ParentingScience.com, children raised in this style are expected to obey parents regardless of the situation, and negotiation and discussion are not tolerated. This style is also characterized by rigid adherence to rules, regardless of whether those expectations are realistic. Dewar says children raised in this style tend to rely on authority figures to make decisions for them, and they also have higher rates of depression, anxiety and poor self-esteem.


Authoritative child-rearing emphasizes warmth and responsiveness to children's needs, but parents also maintain high behavioral expectations. According to Dr. Anita Gurian of the NYU Child Development Study Center, parents who raise their children in this style set limits and allow natural consequences as a means of modifying behavior. They are sensitive to their child's point of view and temperament, and they may adjust consequences or expectations accordingly. Parents also explain why certain rules are important rather than citing their authority as the reason why children should obey. According to Dewar, Gurian and most peer-reviewed psychology publications, authoritative parenting is considered the "gold standard" and typically produces independent, confident children who are well-adjusted, creative and cooperative.


Permissive or indulgent child-rearing involves lots of love, support and sensitivity, but parents have few expectations and make few demands of the child. Limits and rules are poorly enforced, and children are given significant freedom to do as they like. Parents don't correct poor behavior through discipline or instruction, and they frequently indulge the child's demands regardless of behavior, Gurian says. Maintaining control over the child's behavior is not as important as it is in authoritarian and authoritative child-rearing. According to Dewar, children raised in this style tend to have very high self-esteem, but they are also less achievement-oriented and more likely to encounter problems with drugs and alcohol.


Uninvolved child-rearing is most harmful, Gurian says. Not only is parental warmth and responsiveness absent, but few expectations or demands are placed on the child. Children learn not to rely on parents for anything; in extreme cases, this can include basic needs such as food and clean clothing. Parents remain unresponsive to their children, showing little to no affection or encouragement. The lack of limits also means children receive no guidance or examples of appropriate behavior. According to Dewar, such children are most likely to have poor self-esteem and lack the ability to cooperate. Most juvenile offenders were raised in this style of parenting, Dewar says.

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About the Author

Christina Bednarz Schnell began writing full-time in 2010. Her areas of expertise include child development and behavior, medical conditions and pet health. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in international relations.

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