Examples of Each of the Four Parenting Styles

Originally introduced during by Dr. Diane Baumrind, the four major parenting styles consist of different mixes of responsive warmth and exercising control over a child's behavior 2. Yet, it can be difficult to understand each parenting style without specific examples in parent-child interactions. According to New York University's Child Development Study Center, identifying the key traits of your own parenting style can be helpful in understanding how your own behavior affects that of your child's 1.


Authoritarian parents demand complete obedience. They do not take into consideration their child's viewpoint, nor do they tolerate negotiation or explanation. For example, when a 3-year-old child grabs a toy from her friend, an authoritarian parent would demand that her child return the toy immediately. In another example, when a 5-year-old requests an additional snack, an authoritarian parent promptly refuses the request, because that violates the one-snack rule.


Authoritative parents show their children a lot of love and warmth, but they're also sensitive to their children's needs. Authoritative parents understand -- and enforce -- limits and appropriate behavior. When a 3-year-old grabs a toy from his playmate, the authoritative responds sensitively, but firmly. The authoritative parent might say, "I understand you would also like to play with this doll." This parent also enforces limits by saying, "Your friend is playing with this toy now. Perhaps in a few minutes, you can take a turns playing with the toy." When the kindergartener requests an additional snack, the authoritative parent responds to his child's hunger but does not grant free-rein in the kitchen. This parent might say, "You may have an apple and peanut butter or a piece of string cheese."


Permissive parents are indulgent, and they resist exerting control over their child's behavior in favor of creativity, praise and warmth. In the case of a 3-year-old who grabs a toy from his playmate, the permissive parent chooses not to intervene, and believes that her child should be able to express himself. In some cases, the permissive rationalizes that her child was the rightful owner of the toy to begin with. When a hungry kindergartener requests an extra snack, the permissive parent allows her child to eat anything and everything he wants, without any limits or restraints.


Uninvolved parents offer little affection, and they do not respond consistently or sensitively to her child's needs. Uninvolved parents also fail to set limits on behavior or expectations. When watching her 3-year-old grab a toy from another child, the uninvolved parent makes no attempt to rationalize or justify the behavior, nor does she intervene. When a kindergartener comes home hungry, the uninvolved parent doesn't offer a healthy snack. In extreme cases, the uninvolved parent doesn't offer a response at all to her child's hunger.