8 Parenting Styles

When talking about parenting styles we have to remember that there is no one way to parent.  Even within specific parenting styles, each parent’s approach will look different.  However it is helpful to identify what characteristics can lead to successful parenting. By learning the different parenting styles that have been classified by psychologists you can identify the way you parent, and test to see which styles elicit certain characteristic and responses in your children. Parenting styles have been broken out into four main classifications: authoritative, neglectful, permissive, and authoritarian. In our current day and age, four modern parenting styles have also been added to the more traditional styles. These include free-range, helicopter, paranoid and positive parenting.  

8 Parenting Styles

  There are 8 parenting styles to discuss in this article. They include:
  • Authoritative
  • Neglectful
  • Permissive
  • Authoritarian
  • Free-range
  • Helicopter
  • Paranoid
  • Positive
Scroll down to find out more about these eight parenting styles.  

Authoritative Parenting

This is often identified as the most effective way of parenting for most children, because it allows for a healthy environment and strong relationship for both parent and child. Some characteristics include:
  • Holding high expectations, but are still “understanding”
  • Create structure and routine in both the parent’s and child’s day
  • Having consequences when rules are broken
  • Healthy and open line of communication
  • Parents speak to their children without judgement
The key trait of this style to emulate in authoritative parenting is the open communication and speaking to your child without reprimand or judgement.  By creating this open channel of communication you are more likely to have better insight into your child’s behavior and be able to help them understand and respond to the world around them.  

Neglectful Parenting

This is often identified as one of the most harmful types of parenting. If this style of parenting or situation is recognized then it's important that the parents and children involved are urged to seek help and support. Some characteristics include:
  • Not meeting child’s emotional or physical needs
  • The home may not be a safe space for the child
  • The child may often be left alone
  • Lack of involvement in other areas of child’s life such as school
Neglectful parenting is harmful for the child and can make it hard for the child to develop relationships. It is important if you know a child who is experiencing this type of situation to seek help and support for them by reaching out to community services.  

Permissive Parenting

This is also known as indulgent parenting, and can also be harmful, as the negatives often outway the positives. Some characteristics include:
  • Responsive, but not demanding
  • Avoid confrontation, causing them to be lenient
  • Very loving and nurturing
  • Inconsistent rules
  • Seek to be child’s best friend
The problem with permissive parenting is that children often develop a lack of motivation, insecurity due to the absence of boundaries, issues with authority, and poor social skills. It is important for permissive parents to learn to set boundaries and rules.  

Authoritarian Parenting

This style of parenting is also known as strict parenting, meaning the parent can be very demanding but not always responsive. Some characteristics include:
  • Limited open dialogue between parent and child
  • Children are expected to follow a strict set of rules
  • Child is offered limited choices or decisions about their own life
  • Use punishment to teach a lesson
  • Reserve the amount of warmth and affection they show
If your parenting style is authoritarian it is important to balance the structure with open communication. Otherwise children can be prone to low self-esteem, being fearful, associate obedience with love, and often misbehave outside of parental care.  

Free-Range Parenting

Parenting from a free-range perspective is to allow and encourage your child as much freedom and independence that is appropriate for their age and development. Some characteristics include:
  • Provide a child with autonomy, self-reliance and responsibility early and often
  • Allowing kids to have unsupervised time to explore their environments
  • Teaching kids a realistic acceptance of personal risks
Free-range parents believe they are giving their children childhood back, they seek to have their children happy 100% of the time by allowing them to take some risk and explore on their own. Understandably, free-range parenting is a highly debated topic amongst parents. Opposition to it often revolves around the safety aspect and if children should have so much independence, especially when they are young.  

Helicopter Parenting

Helicopter parenting is a coined term for “overparenting”.  This means the parent is involved in a child's life in a way that is over-controlling, over-protecting, and over-perfecting.
  • Parents begin with good intentions to protect their child
  • The parent often solves the problem for a child
  • Child relies on the parent to solve the issue
  • Child may exhibit decreased confidence and self-esteem, underdeveloped coping skills, and increased anxiety
Although helicopter parenting begins with good intentions of wanting to protect their children, a child will often not learn to advocate for themselves or solve their own problems.  This can go on to inhibit their resilience as adults.  

Paranoid Parenting 

This parenting style is controlled by worrisome and fear that something might happen to their children. Some characteristics include:
  • Parents not allowing their children to join on activities due to safety concerns
  • Children’s outdoor and creative play is restricted due to anxieties
  • Parent’s have a set perception on the lack of safety in the world around them
It is easy to feel like there are many dangers in the world and, as a result, to try to find the best ways to protect our children. It is important however to find  balance with keeping kids safe while allowing them to develop with independence, autonomy and resilience.  

Positive Parenting

The focus of positive parenting is to establish love and connection and to resist the temptation to be punitive, but rather guide with control and empathy. Some characteristics include:
  • Parents who are committed to regulating their own emotions
  • Parent shows unconditional love
  • Parent focuses on establishing a connection before the correction of behaviors
  • Limits are set, but they are set with empathy
This parenting style has a great deal of research supporting it and has shown success in raising children that can better address and work through their feelings and emotions, especially in difficult moments.  With positive parenting you are still able to set limits, however you are motivating your children to follow through based on the connection you have created with them and the positive modeling you do yourself. The various approaches to parenting and discipline can have a long term affect on your child’s temperament and how they approach situations.  We all know that parents are human and are not always perfect, but by identifying the styles of parenting that we associate with, we can also identify characteristics that are effective in teaching our children and helping them to grow into strong, successful, independent adults.  

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