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Parenting styles and child outcome

Updated on October 1, 2012

A small essay

Most of the time parents strive to be the most ideal parental figure possible. Their interpretation of the ideal parenting style is based on how they were raised. Essentially, there are three types of parenting; authoritarian, authoritative and permissive. Based on numerous studies, the overall best parenting method is authoritative producing better academic and goal achievement success, greater social behaviour and confidence and lower risk of obesity. Although the goal for the other two parenting styles is aimed at being perfect, it’s their polarity that causes the flaws whereas authoritative is essentially an equal balance of the two.

According to Baumrind the 3 types of parenting are authoritarian, authoritative and permissive. Authoritarian is known as being the full control parent. When questioned by the child often the answer “because I said so” is given. When mistakes are made the child is usually punished in a fear instilling manner, and punishments are usually irrational and left unexplained. Also rules and regulations are set with no chance of questioning and are to be followed accordingly. This style can be quite comparable to dictatorship. In contrast to authoritarian parenting is permissive style parenting, which is often referred to as too soft, or child is in control of parent. Permissive is parenting at its softest potential almost borderline uninvolved. The parent usually caters to all needs and wants of the child and has little or no rules or expectation of child’s overall behaviour. The parent allows the child to regulate his or herself as much as possible and if expectations are not met punishments rarely follow. Also the little rules and regulation as well as everything else is thoroughly explained and discussed with the child. Overall if the child disagrees, he/she is often accommodated and given what they want. Located roughly in the middle of these two styles lies authoritative parenting. Authoritative parenting is an even balance of authoritarian and permissive. Authoritative styles have many rules and regulations and overall expectations of child. Typically the rules are discussed with the child and if believed to be fair, are negotiable. If expectations have not been met the child will be spoken to and have the situation explained on how to improve for future events. Punishments do exist in this style but rather then making the child fear them, they are given punishments to “remember and learn”. As apposed to authoritarians’ the child will be allowed to state his opinion and is given the opportunity to question things. This method is comparable to or defined as democratic.

Although there are three styles, parents never really fit the description completely. What determines their parenting styles is the number of attributes they hold from one (Kyung, 2006). A test containing an array of questions created by Baumrind, was distributed throughout different schools nation wide. One notable survey from a group of researchers with wide variety of educational backgrounds found authoritative style parenting had produced the over highest marks. Amy Tiller and her colleagues had surveyed a total of 290 families from 19 different schools. A test scored out of 100 with an average of 96% was handed out to the surveyed children to find out which parenting style produced better cognitive abilities. According to the test results authoritarian style parenting had a range of 17 to 55, permissive having 7 to 34 and authoritative having the highest 21 to 96. As discussed by Dr. Kyung and colleagues authoritative parents allow kids to express themselves freely and provide them with the ability to control emotions much better than the opposing two styles which may disrupt learning ability or cause anxiety during tests.

Keeping a balanced parenting style allows the child to build on social skills and gives them the experience to manage their emotions much better than the other styles. “Authoritarian parenting styles generally lead to children who are obedient and proficient, but they rank lower in happiness, social competence and self-esteem.” (Cherry, 2009) Being told what to do all the time creates problems for the child. It leaves them unable to make decisions for themselves. It also creates social awkwardness and leaves them unable to cope well with frustration or normal social activities. Allowing the child to regulate his or herself completely also has its faults. The child usually becomes objective to any form of authority and will be socially awkward. “Permissive parenting often results in children who rank low in happiness and self-regulation. These children are more likely to experience problems with authority and tend to perform poorly in school” (Cherry, 2009).

Another major concern that almost seems irrelevant to the subject is child obesity. Dr. Rhee Kyung and a few colleagues conducted a research determining the relationship (if any) with child obesity and parenting styles. The study proved that in fact there was a relationship and they wanted to determine which parenting style had the highest obesity and which had the lowest. Their survey included a total of 872 students to which 298 were authoritarian, 179 authoritative, 132 permissive and 263 uninvolved. The highest obesity rates coming from authoritarian 17.1 % and the lowest being authoritative 3.9% and permissive and uninvolved tied at 9.8 percent. According to Dr. Kyung the reason for authoritarian being so high is the parents force the child to finish the food they are given regardless of the child being full or not. The child constantly pushes his or her body limits eating everything they are given. This habit continues through life subconsciously increasing obesity in the future. As for authoritative parents when the child becomes food and no longer feels the need to eat, he or she will openly bring this to the parents’ attention and an agreement will be made. Thus giving the child a sense of importance for the food eaten and also builds social skills.

In conclusion based on all the studies conducted by Doctors and Psychologists, the information shows that out of the 3 types of parenting authoritative leads to the most cognitive and healthy child. Although all three styles have no ill intention towards their children and only want the best, as studies show it is not the case. Parents cannot specifically be one type of parenting, they do however carry stronger attribute of one type, which categorizes them to that style. Parents should all learn to balance out the styles and remember to treat the child as and equal individual. From all the studies the best type of parenting is authoritative and all parents should take after this model to achieve the most for their little one.


Baumrind, D. (1966). Effects of Authoritative Parental Control on Child Behavior, Child            Development, 37(4), 887-907. Retrieved from  

Baumrind, D. (1967). Child care practices anteceding three patterns of preschool behavior.            Genetic Psychology Monographs, 75(1), 43-88.  

Rhee, K. & Lumeng, J. & Appugliese, P. D. & Kaciroti, N. & Bradley, H. R. (2006) Parenting            Style and Overweight Status. Pediatrics, 117(6). Doi:10.1542/peds.2005-2259

Tiller, E. A., *Garrison,  B., *Block, E. B., Cramer, K., and Tiller, V. (n.d.). The Influence of            Parenting             Styles on Children’s Cognitive Development. Louisiana State University            AgCenter.             Retrieved from


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