Parenting styles directly affect the way a child grows and learns throughout his life.

A Description of the Characteristics of Authoritarian Parents

by Amanda Rumble

The effect a parent’s behavior has on children has been a question that developmental psychologists have investigated for years. Clinical and development psychologist Diana Baumrind conducted a study of more than 100 children that identified four distinct parenting styles. One of the prominent parenting styles parents fit into is the authoritarian parenting style, which lacks the necessary warmth and nurturing that children need to flourish.

Strict Rules and Expectations

Authoritarian parents are known for being strict. They lay out rules and expect their children to follow them without question, even if the child has a valid reason for questioning a decision. They establish many rules for the household and leave little to no room for negotiation on policies. Authoritarian parents also fail to explain why the rules exist because they believe that, as the parent, they are the authority on all decisions and shouldn’t be questioned.


Punishment is an important quality to authoritarian parents. Discipline is not gentle and can include harsh consequences when a child fails to live up to rigid and sometimes unrealistic expectations. Punishment is viewed as more important and effective than positive reinforcement. These parents do not often explain why a child is being punished, and they fail to give a child options or choices to minimize conflict.


The authoritarian parenting style is not highly regarded by experts because of the high demands placed on children at such a young age by one of their largest influences. Authoritarian parents follow this philosophy of parenting because they believe that children are miniature adults and should be expected to behave in the same manner. Children of authoritarian parents tend to be responsible, disciplined and hard-working.


The disadvantages of the authoritarian parenting style significantly outweigh the advantages. Children tend to be withdrawn and apathetic because they are not used to having their voice heard or opinion taken into consideration. They also don’t think freely and are used to an environment where adults are unresponsive to their wants and needs. Children raised in an authoritarian environment also have an underlying feeling that they are never good enough and don’t take pride in their accomplishments. This can lead to low self-esteem and belief through adolescence that extends into adulthood.

About the Author

Amanda Rumble has been writing for online publications since 2000, primarily in the fields of computing and technology. She holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Buffalo in information technology. Rumble also focuses on writing articles involving popular video games and Internet culture.

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