How your child behaves is a product of both nature and nurture, with a significant part of the nurture attributable to the parenting style that you adopt. Your methods of disciplining, interacting with and relating to your child are all a part of your style of parenting. Experts have outlined three general categories of parenting styles: authoritarian, permissive and authoritative. Understanding how each style can contribute to behavior can help you adapt your methods to fit the needs of your child.
The authoritarian parenting style is characterized by limited communication, low levels of nurturing and high levels of discipline. Authoritarian parents attempt to influence the behavior of their children through demanding obedience and controlling behavior and attitude. Children are expected to exhibit mature behavior at all ages and parental expectations are often higher than developmental ability allows. Common responses to this model of parenting include insecurity in social settings, acting out or engaging in problem behavior and low self-esteem.
In permissive parenting, the parent-child relationship closely resembles a friendship. Parental monitoring is low and the child is allowed to get away with most behaviors and actions. It is also common for the parent to offer only limited assistance for problem-solving . According to Anita Guarian, PhD, a clinical assistant professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the NYU School of Medicine, this style is associated with children having issues with impulse control, immaturity and accepting responsibility.
Parents that adopt the authoritative style of parenting show interest in their children, communicate frequently, engage in parental monitoring, discipline when needed and encourage self-expression. According to Nancy Darling, PhD, a professor of psychology at Oberlin College, this type of parenting is associated with academic success, high self-esteem, independence and the development of strong friendships. Though there is no way to completely eradicate unacceptable behavior, authoritative parenting allows children to learn from mistakes and develop healthy behavior patterns.
Parents that do not engage in monitoring, have limited interactions with their children, and show no emotions are considered uninvolved. Children are often left alone or with insufficient caregivers. Behavioral responses to this type of parenting include issues with motivation, delinquency and attachment problems. Unless a child has other sources of learning what is and is not acceptable, this type of parenting could lead to long-term behavioral problems.
Inconsistent parenting is when a parent incorporates two or more of the above methods into a parenting style. This can result in confusion, nervousness and continued behavioral issues. For example, a child may not know how to respond if a problem behavior leads to harsh discipline for the first occurrence and is then permitted or ignored later on. Inconsistency in parenting can lead to a child having trust issues, not listening to the redirection of bad behavior and questioning parental authority.