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How to Make a Child Healthy: Effects of Authoritarian vs Authoritative Parenting Styles on Children

Submitted by on July 31, 2016 – 4:29 PM

downloadPsychology often addresses the question of nature versus nurture. Some contend that an environment can shape a child’s way of life, identity, self-concept, etc. while others trust that these things are inherit in the child. For most children, parents are the most persuasive individuals in their lives. Parental affection as well as punishment can apply an extraordinary impact on children. Parenting plays a significant role in how the child acquires developmentally appropriate social and emotional skills.


The parenting styles of the parents are a representation of how parents respond to their children. It also reflects the parent’s level of expectation, demands, attentiveness as well as the style of discipline that the parent utilizes to enforce said expectation. There are various types of styles according to culture and society; the most contradictory are the authoritarian and authoritative styles.


Authoritarian parenting displays a dominating style—they are strict disciplinarians. They don’t express much warmth and nurturing to their child and expect their orders to be obeyed by the child without question. Children raised by authoritarian parents tend to become authoritarian themselves. On the other hand, authoritative style is the gold standard for parenting. Authoritative parents are warm but firm. They encourage their children to be independent while maintaining limits and boundaries. Both parenting styles impact the child’s future in different ways.


During my summer vacations, I taught at a school where I had the chance to observe two different students of same age. One scored extremely well whereas second needed assistance. I wasn’t able to find a reason behind such differences in their academic performances, but I explored it in parent-teacher conferences where I encountered two entirely different parenting styles.


The student who scored very well was followed by authoritative parenting and the student who scored low grades was chased by authoritarian parenting. I identified their different ways of parenting by the way they reacted to the academic results of their children. This event urged me to realize how parenting styles can affect a child’s behavior and overall personality. In my opinion, in spite of the fact that we are advanced in every corner of life, at the same time our society is lacking in some minor things which can transform into real issues in the future.


In 1960, Diana Baumrind recognized four types of parenting styles i.e. authoritative, authoritarian, permissive and uninvolved (K. Shears, Whiteside-Mansell, McKelvey, & Selig, 2008, p. 181). These styles depend upon two characteristics known as ‘Demand and Response’. Demand refers to control or power of parents over children, whereas responsiveness refers to support, nurture and care by the parents (Niariki, Rezai, Rahimi, & Hassan, 2013, p.79).


Diverse components drive parents to respond in an unexpected way. This could be either authoritative or authoritarian or any other—however, one significant determinant normal in our nation is culture and society. Parents from around the globe harbor feelings of love, affection, trust and hope towards their children, but cultural values and expectations color how these feelings are conveyed.


Cultural standards play a vast role in deciding the level of attachment that parents and children feel. In our particular culture and society, the child’s gender could be one of the reasons to adopt authoritative parenting. Society’s assumptions support preferential favors towards a male child. An unwanted child can also be a victim of authoritarian parenting. Research also supports that parenting behaviors may be influenced by internal factors, such as mood and lack of sleep, as well as external factors such as stress and job responsibilities. However, one style normally rises as the prevailing style.


Researchers have found very few positive aspects of authoritarian parenting. According to Gogolinski (2013, p. 42), these children often forgo smoking and drinking. They follow social laws and policies, like the seatbelt and helmet laws, because of limits set by their parents. In contrast, many researchers specified negative outcomes of authoritarian parenting. These parents are coldhearted and unresponsive to their child’s needs. They punish children rather than managing or preparing them which prompts psychological well-being issues among these children (Brook, 2011, p. 81).


According to Miller (2010, p. 2), “Authoritarian parenting teaches children what they should think rather than how they should think.” Hence this absence of physical and passionate autonomy lead to low self-esteem. In addition, children brought up by this style of parenting are debilitated for autonomous judgment as a result of less self-governance, which brings about poor self-regulation (Joussemet, Vitaro, Barker, &te, 2008, p. 419).


Children and adolescents from authoritarian families have a tendency to perform moderately well in school and to be less involved in problematic behaviors than children and adolescents from authoritative families. Yet, they have poorer social skills, lower self-esteem, and elevated levels of depression. On the other hand, children of authoritative parents have a tendency to show social competence, display less problematic behavior and have less psychological health issues than children of authoritarian parents. Such children demonstrate leadership qualities. Moreover, these children are best in their academic results and also perform well in other activities. They obtain a mixed bag of positive attributes. These children often have higher self-esteem and confidence because of the nurturing and encouraging environment.


According to Niaraki et al. (2013, p.79), the ideal parenting style is authoritative. This type of parenting contributes a caring, nurturing, encouraging and healthy environment to children without compromising the child’s potential and attributes. It also permits the child to express their feelings, discuss their goals and verbalize their thoughts. In addition, parents should define appropriate limits and provide independence to boost self-sufficiency in their children. They should maintain friendly behavior during communication with their children, as this will create a secure attachment through which the child will have the capacity to trust and make further relations in later life.


In a mental health setting, it is important to recognize past history of parent-child relationships because many individuals with behavioral and intellectual issues have a background marked by poor child rearing. Thus, identification of parenting style ought to be a fundamental piece of study.


Hence, avoiding authoritarian behavior by instead being authoritative can produce immense change in child behavior and attitude. As community mental health nurses, it is our duty to create awareness among parents regarding the consequences of authoritarian parenting. Moreover, we should counsel parents, arrange group sessions and should do researches in our community related to parenting styles and outcomes.


Conclusively, from the four parenting styles distinguished by Baumrind (1960), authoritarian parenting is basically utilized as a part of the eastern world while authoritative style is preferred by the western. Parents who follow the authoritarian style are less responsive and have greater demands from their child. They debilitate autonomy and independent judgment of their children and prefer punitive behavior which brings about psychopathologies, behavioral, psychological, and psychosocial issues.


In contrast, authoritative parenting is an optimal balance of responsiveness and demand. It allows children to learn from their mistakes and to proceed independently, and encourages them towards future self-reliance. It is essential for nurses to identify the history of a parent-child relationship when dealing with a client in a mental health setting. Theories on parent-child relationship also suggest positive parenting for better outcomes in the future. For this reason, our society, parents and we all are responsible for replacing authoritarian parenting with authoritative parenting. It would be a decision paving the way to a bright future. Also, friendly communication patterns, awareness programs and other strategies can help our society in this endeavor.



Baumrind, D. (1960, copyright 2003). Effects of authoritative parental control on child behavior. Child Development, 887-907.

Brook, B. (2011, May). The Effects of Parenting Styles on a Preschool Aged Child’s Social Emotional Development.

Cheryl, S. M., Jeffrey, J. W., Walter, C. B., & Diana, A. G. (2007). Impact of Parenting Styles and Locus of Control on Emerging Adults’ Psychosocial Success. Journal of Education and Human Development1(1).

Chang, M. (2007). Cultural differences in parenting styles and their effects on teens’ self-esteem, perceived parental relationship satisfaction, and self-satisfaction.

Fish, & Margaret. (2012). Parenting Preschoolers in Rural Appalachia: Measuring Attitudes and Behaviors and their Relations to Child Development. Parenting: Science and Practice, 205-233.

Garcia, Martinez, I., & Fernando, J. (2008). Internalization of values and self esteem amon brazeelian teenagers from authoritative, induldgent, authoritarian and neglectful homes. 13-25.


Joussemet, M., Vitaro, F., Barker, E. D., & te, S. C. (2008). Controlling Parenting and Physical Aggression During Elementary School. Child Development, 411-425.

K, J., Shears, Whiteside-Mansell, L., McKelvey, L., & Selig, J. (2008). Assessing Mothers’ and Fathers’ Authoritarian Attitudes: The Psychometric Properties. Social Work Research, 179-184.

Kopko, K. (2012). Parenting Styles and Adolescents.

Miller, & Matthew, J. (2010). Authoritarian Parenting:The Impact on Children. The Center for Christian Counseling & Relationship Development, 1-4.

Niaraki, Rezai, F., Rahimi, & Hassan. (2013). The impact of authoritative, permissive and authoritarian behavior of parents on self-concept, psychological health and life quality. European Online Journal of Natural and Social Sciences, 78-84.

Rudy, D., & Grusec, J. E. (2013). Authoritarian Parenting in Individualist and Collectivist Groups: Associations With Maternal Emotion and Cognition and Children’s Self-Esteem. Journal of Family Psychology, 68-69.



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