Become a Positive Parent – 5 Types of Parenting Styles

by Suzanne Tam

Everyone wants to do what’s best for their kids, but how do you know where to start? Whether it’s your first time, or whether it’s your third, fourth or fifth, there’s always something to learn. This is a quick rundown of how to become a positive parent, looking at 5 different parenting styles. We’ll discuss what they are, what they mean, and their pros and cons, as well as answer some common questions parents have about how to become a positive parent.

Authoritarian Parenting

Also known as strict parenting or tough love, this style of parenting aims to aid child development through the use of rules and boundaries. Strict parents tend to ensure their children know what will and will not be tolerated. This style of parenting is employed both within and outside of the home. Many parents want their kids to know that there are consequences to their actions, and these consequences must be faced. This doesn’t mean being unsupportive, but rather ensuring their kids aren’t given free rein to do whatever they please without thinking of others.

Strict parents set rules and expect them to be followed. Their children, therefore, often know their boundaries and stick to them. This doesn’t mean they won’t challenge their parents, but they usually know where they stand from the outset. Children of strict parents tend to know the difference between right and wrong and have an appropriate set of social skills. They often work well in teams and are mindful of the feelings and reactions of other people.

Permissive/Indulgent Parenting

This parenting style is defined by inconsistent discipline. Permissive parents are generally more responsive to their kids than they are demanding of them. They work with their children and listen to their reasoning before making decisions. This often means that children can negotiate with their parents in order to have something they want. Permissive parents are generally very loving but often act as more of a friendly figure rather than a parent.

Naturally, many people might think this is an ideal route to become a positive parent. While this works for some, it’s not suitable for everyone.  If it works, however, you can raise children who are reasonable and able to negotiate. If it fails, kids can develop behavioral problems and have difficulty being told ‘no.’ Indulgent parents can experience some difficulties when their offspring encounter a caregiver who is more strict, such as a teacher. They will often push boundaries as they are simply not used to having many. 

Attachment Parenting

This parenting style promotes the close bond between parents and their children, and is a popular parenting style for those who want to become a better parent. It is more closely associated with mothers, as it starts before childbirth and encourages mothers to tune in to the needs of their child. There are various main principles of attachment parenting, including breastfeeding, keeping your baby close to your skin often, and being responsive to their cries.

One of the main facets of attachment parenting is bonding with your baby in the moments after birth. Another is the importance that this parenting style places on breastfeeding and sleeping next to your child. This means it’s not suitable for everyone. It’s also a more difficult style of parenting to adopt for fathers, given the importance of several elements that they simply cannot be involved in. They can, however, get involved at an early stage and build up their own close bond with their child.

Uninvolved Parenting

Uninvolved parenting is potentially the most dangerous to a child’s development, and generally not recommended as a way to become a positive parent.  This parenting style can result in the development of serious behavior problems, and issues in later life. In many cases, this style of parenting is also classified as neglectful parenting.

Uninvolved parenting often means you have little interest or involvement in your child’s development. It can mean a few boundaries and zero interest in putting any kind of rule book in place. Uninvolved parents can be very dismissive of their kids and tend to be largely unresponsive to the needs of their children. This can be extremely detrimental to development and can result in long-lasting problems. It’s not uncommon for the children of uninvolved parents to perform badly at school and have issues with self-esteem. They may also have difficulties in forming friendships or meaningful relationships, that can last into adulthood.

Helicopter Parenting

Helicopter parenting is also known as over-parenting or excessive parenting. Many have adopted this style of parenting in recent decades as a way to become a positive parent, but it’s not necessarily all it’s cracked up to be. It’s a style of parenting classified by a parent or caregiver’s constant control and involvement in every aspect of their children’s lives. Parents who employ this parenting style often place their own worries on their kids, which can lead to them feeling over-anxious.

Helicopter parents are often terrified for their children’s safety – even when they have no real reason. They follow their kids around at the playground to make sure they don’t fall and are often a thorn in the side of their kids’ teachers. It’s not uncommon for a helicopter parent to continually approach a school to see what they can do to help their kids reach their full potential – even when the child is doing well.  Many helicopter parents don’t realize what they’re doing and are simply desperate to help their kids and keep them safe. Nevertheless, this style of parenting can often be suffocating for a child, and result in its own rash of symptoms and problems as children develop.

What is the most effective parenting style?

There is no right answer to this, as different parenting styles suit different children and different parents. Everyone wants to become a positive parent (or they should, at any rate), and it would be nice if there was one breakthrough theory that was universally recommended. But that is simply not reality.

The good thing about working out which parenting style you currently employ means you can change it up if it’s not working. There’s no harm in making a switch if you feel your child’s development would benefit. Being a good parent is about flexibility. You don’t have to make a choice and stick to it rigidly if it’s clearly not effective. There will always be a situation or predicament that you hadn’t quite prepared for. That’s one of the biggest challenges of being a parent (and a child)! You sometimes only know how you’re going to react to something after it actually happens.

What is tough love parenting?

Tough love is a style of parenting often employed by confident and skilled parents. They want their children to be aware of the consequences of their actions and don’t shield them as much as other parents do. They feel that raising children to take responsibility for what they do will make them cautious and responsible adults. There’s a balance to be had with this, though, especially if you are newly trying it as a way to become a positive parent. Being too harsh or imposing too many rules can make your children rebel to test their boundaries. It can also make them reluctant to confide in you if they feel you’re likely to get upset or criticize them too much.

Why do parents choose authoritarian parenting?

Many parents have high expectations for their children and don’t always trust them to make the best choices. This style of parenting often involves parents making most of the decisions on behalf of their children. These parents tend to exert control over their kids and have fixed ideas about how they should behave. Parents choose this style of parenting when they don’t feel their kids have the ability to make good decisions. This can sometimes stifle their children’s ability to learn from their mistakes and go on to make better choices. Constantly making your child’s choices for them can dent their confidence.  It can also result in them becoming so reliant on you, they lose the ability to work problems through for themselves.

What is indulgent parenting?

Indulgent or permissive parents spend a lot of time with their kids and are very involved in their day to day lives. They don’t, however, place many demands on them. While this style of parenting ensures that children feel loved and valued, there are few rules involved. This means few boundaries are imposed, and bad behavior is more likely to go unchallenged.

Why is strict parenting bad?

An unreasonably strict parenting style can make your children worried about confiding in you and make them concerned about admitting their mistakes. There has to be a balance between being strict and being too harsh. It’s not that strict parenting is bad, it’s *how* strict you are that makes the difference. All kids need boundaries, but where these are placed is key.

Why is strict parenting good?

Just as strict parenting isn’t inherently bad, it’s also not inherently good, either. It’s thought that strict parenting makes children face the consequences of their actions. It helps them understand the difference between good behavior and bad behavior, and learn that bad won’t be rewarded. Kids need to know what’s acceptable and what’s not. This applies to every situation, and not just to their actions at home. As mentioned above, however, strict parenting can often go overboard, and lead to its own set of problems. While we may sound like broken records, one of the key points to remember to become a positive parent is to always embrace balance.

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Conclusion

Parenting styles were first defined in the 1960s by Diana Baumrind, a Developmental Psychologist at Berkeley University in California. She identified three main styles of parenting based on her study into the behaviors of preschool children. These styles were later expanded upon by Maccoby and Martin in 1983. Most parents fall into one of the main categories or lie somewhere between two different ones. Many parents do not choose their parenting style, but rather, this is simply an extension of the way they, themselves, were raised. Other parents absolutely choose their style for personal or child development reasons. It’s not unheard of for parents to intentionally choose a parenting style that’s the polar opposite of how they were raised. However, there’s no right or wrong answer in terms of the best type of parenting style. That is, apart from to say that uninvolved parenting is not highly recommended.

There are plenty of parenting styles research articles that you can read if you want more information. Many of them assist in helping you find boundaries or understand your own actions and how they impact your kids. Most of us want only the best for our children and will identify with one or two of the main parenting styles identified. Likewise, most parents want to become a better, more effective parent, and give their child or children every advantage.

The main thing most of us aim for is to raise children who are healthy and happy. All children make mistakes, just like all parents do. These mistakes shouldn’t define who anyone is, but, like everyone else, we don’t have all the answers. The vast majority of us do the very best we can and take each day as it comes. We hope we’ve given you a taste of how to become a positive parent with our overview of these 5 types of parenting styles.

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