An authoritarian parenting style, characterized by strict rules and no room for discussion, may cause a negative psychological impact on a child.

Psychological Effects of Parenting Strategies

by Kristen Moutria

There are many different types of parenting strategies, and each has the potential to cause either a positive or negative psychological effect on a child. In 1966, clinical and developmental psychologist Diana Baumrind identified 3 predominant parenting styles which influenced children in different ways and on a long-term basis: authoritarian, authoritative and permissive. The permissive parenting style has since been divided into two different types. Authoritarian, authoritative, permissive indifferent and permissive indulgent parenting styles have both positive and negative psychological effects on children.


The authoritarian style is the strictest parenting style, and represents parents who intimidate their children into submission. According to Dr. Joseph Lao on the "Parenting Literacy" website, an authoritarian parent believes he should provide for his children and that they have no right to tell him the best way to do this. He believes that his children should do what he wants but that he does not have to do what they want. As a result, he is often perceived as stern, inflexible and harsh. Poor communication skills may be the result for the child of an authoritarian parent, as well as low levels of initiative. Psychologist Katherine H. Grobman reports on the "Developmental Psychology" website that they will most likely be anxious, withdrawn, and unhappy.


An authoritative parenting style is frequently seen as the "best" style, since it promotes psychological well-being in children and high levels of initiative. Dr. Lao reports that an authoritative parent has a high degree of responsiveness to her children, as well as expectations for her children to be independent and willing to negotiate. Lao states that these children will perceive their parents as responsive to their needs, as well as understanding of the reason behind the discipline they receive. Grobman reports that they will most likely have a lively and happy disposition, with well-developed emotion regulation skills and well-developed social skills.

Permissive Indifferent

A permissive indifferent parent is not demanding, but is not necessarily interested in his child's life. He does not often respond to his child and allows her to fend for herself. A child who has a parent like this will often display poor social skills, according to Dr. Lao, as well as be emotionally needy. Self-discipline will prove to be difficult for her, and according to Grobman, she will have low persistence for challenging tasks.

Permissive Indulgent

A permissive indulgent parent always wants to make sure her child is happy, even if it means spoiling her or giving her something she should not have. She is not demanding and allows her child to take control of most situations, according to Dr. Lao. Because of this, children of permissive indulgent parents often are at the most risk for becoming spoiled, as well as to become highly demanding themselves. They may display impatience when they do not get what they want. Grobman reports that these types of children will become rebellious and defiant when their desires are challenged.


  • The Developing Person throughout the Lifespan. 5th ed.; Kathleen Berger

About the Author

Kristen Moutria has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Evangel University. She is currently pursuing her Master of Arts in education from the University of Nebraska.

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