Children of authoritative parents enjoy a healthy sense of self.

How Does Authoritative Parenting Affect Children?

by Carly Seifert

The word "authoritative" may not conjure up images of familial warmth and love, but when it comes to describing parenting styles, that is exactly what authoritative parenting is. According to writer and biological anthropologist Gwen Dewar, children raised by authoritative parents are well-adjusted, confident kids who do well in school and are well-liked by their peers.


Authoritative parents seek to nurture their child's autonomy through discipline that is rational and issue-oriented. This doesn't mean your preschooler calls the shots, but it does mean that your provide a balance of freedom and responsibility. The parent presents alternatives -- "You can sit and be quiet during the library's story time or we can leave" -- and allows the child to make a decision, taking responsibility for his actions and accepting the consequences for his behavior, at least as much as a toddler or preschooler can. According to Dewar, this independence also leads to an attitude of helpfulness and kindness in the child.


While your tot may not seem to lack in the self-esteem department, setting the foundation for a healthy sense of self is important. The American Academy of Pediatrics says that parents who help children feel secure and empowered in their decision-making are helping their children develop a healthy sense of self. The tenets of authoritative parenting include providing an atmosphere of warmth and care. When these parents discipline, they are not punitive and condescending but instead are responsive and considerate. This promotes a secure attachment between parent and child, which in turn gives your little one a sense of belonging and strong self-esteem.


If Aretha Franklin taught us anything, it's that respect is something to be demanded and valued. According to "The Fountain" magazine, because authoritative parents don't set arbitrary, unrealistic rules, they set up their children for success. Authoritative parents have thoughtful, age-appropriate rules and healthy expectations of their children that they take the time to explain to them. This consideration encourages an attitude of self-respect in children and a healthy regard for parents.


There's nothing worse than being around an out-of-control toddler or preschooler. The good news is that the children of authoritative parents typically do well with controlling impulses and regulating their behavior. Because authoritative parents enforce rules rather than letting their children do as they please, their kids develop accountability and self-discipline. Since authoritative children tend to have a healthy self-esteem, they are resilient, and when your innocent little one enters his dreaded teen years, he is less likely to abuse drugs or alcohol and engage in rebellious behavior.

About the Author

Carly Seifert has been a piano instructor since 2001. She has also covered adoption and introducing children to the arts for "Montana Parent Magazine." Seifert graduated from University of California, Irvine with a Bachelor of Arts in drama.

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