Battle Of the Parenting Styles: Authoritative vs Authoritarian

Battle Of the Parenting Styles: Authoritative vs Authoritarian

The two most popular parenting styles are authoritative and authoritarian parenting. Let’s examine the qualities and impacts of these two parenting approaches on children.

Authoritative and authoritarian have a similar ring to them. In psychology, both of these parenting approaches entail authority. Despite their identical titles, their ideas and impacts on children are entirely different.

Parents have a tremendous influence on their children’s behaviour and attitudes. The way they act and communicate with others reflects the environment in which they were raised and how their parents raised them. And it’s entirely up to you to decide who your child will be and how he will develop. After all, your kid is developing not only language and communication abilities, but also his or her own personality throughout these crucial first few years of life. The family foundations on which you build will influence their conduct, social abilities, and capacity to adjust to a variety of settings. And your parenting style has the most impact on this environment.

Meeting your child’s needs, reading a book, snuggling, or any other loving action will go a long way toward improving your baby’s emotional well-being, temperament, personality, and capacity to cope with stress, as well as whether he realises his full potential. As a result, parents have a significant amount of responsibility for the development of their children’s character. One of the fascinating aspects of being a parent is the wide range of approaches we take to raising our children. Different parenting styles relate to the variety of parenting methods used by parents to raise their children.

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Different Between Authoritative and Authoritarian Parenting

In terms of traits, here’s the difference between authoritative and authoritarian parenting.

Authoritative Parents Are Warm and Caring

Authoritative parents are more likely to be warm, caring, and responsive than authoritarian parents.

Responsive parenting fosters stable attachment in children, according to Attachment Theory, which was established by psychologist Mary Ainsworth in the 1970s. Children who have a strong bond with their parents are happier and healthier. Many studies show that children raised by authoritative parents are happier than children raised by authoritarian parents.

In terms of warmth and attentiveness, authoritarian parents are the polar opposite of authoritative parents. Authoritarian parents are distant and unresponsive to their children. They see children’s sensitive emotions as a sign of weakness, so they suppress them.

This, according to Baumrind, is the “gold standard” parenting approach. Boundaries are set by authoritative parents, but their children are also given the opportunity to make their own judgments. They see mistakes as a learning opportunity for their children, but appropriate punishment is not out of the question, and they have clear expectations for them. Authoritative parents are loving and kind, but they also inculcate a sense of responsibility and discipline in their children.

The Impact on Children: Children raised by authoritative parents are often confident, joyful, and successful. They can be trusted to make the best decision for themselves, and they frequently set lofty goals for themselves. These kids may also do well in school and socially, and they’re less likely to use drugs or alcohol.

Children from authoritative homes have strong emotional control because their parents are sensitive to their children’s emotional demands. They build resilience and are able to bounce back swiftly from setbacks.

Authoritarian Parents Are Strict And Have High Expectations

The authoritarian parenting style emphasizes rigid rules, compliance, and discipline. These parents have high expectations for their children and are not afraid to discipline them if they do not follow their rules. Authoritarian parents also assume control of decision-making, seldom allowing children to participate. These parents are not loving, lenient, or communicative, similar to an army drill sergeant.

Children reared by authoritarian parents are usually well-behaved at home, but they may rebel when they are with classmates or friends. They may also battle with low self-esteem, self-confidence, poor academic achievement, or even substance misuse.

Authoritative Parents Encourage Independance

Parents who are authoritative allow their children to pursue autonomy and independence. Instead of strict control, they keep a careful eye on their children’s behaviour and intervene when necessary. According to studies, parental supervision reduces a childrens chances of antisocial behaviour, delinquency, and drug usage. When parents supervise their children in a loving and caring connection, it is more likely to be successful and healthy.

Parents who are authoritative also include their children in family matters. Communication in both directions is encouraged.

Authoritarian parents, on the other hand, discourage their children from pursuing independence. They don’t include children in the decision-making process. Instead of requests from parents, children are given orders.

Authoritative Parents Use Positive Discipline Strategies

Authoritative parents tend to discipline their children through non-punitive methods such as time-out and natural consequences.

Punitive punishment (fear conditioning) is favoured by authoritarian parents.

Surprisingly, while authoritative parents give their children more freedom and autonomy, their expectations are generally higher than those of authoritarian parents. They are also more consistent in carrying out the punishment (fear conditioning).

Both Parenting Styles Have High Expectations

Both authoritative and authoritarian parents are severe and hold their children to a high standard.

Authoritative parents are strict but warm, and authoritarian parents are frigid but strict.

Parents that are authoritative discuss and clarify regulations with their children. They are open to debate and will make changes to the regulations if necessary. Children are taught to question the justifications for each regulation. Children with authoritarian parents are more assertive and have greater self-esteem and confidence because they are able to voice their minds and participate in decision-making.

Only one-way contact is permitted by authoritarian parents. They justify rules by saying, “Because I said so.” Children are supposed to follow without inquiry and without questioning. They are not permitted to have or express opinions. Children are frequently “seen but not heard.” Children who have parents who have an authoritarian parenting style may feel uncomfortable and fearful.

Both Parenting Styles Hold High Standards

Both authoritative and authoritarian parents have high expectations for their children’s behaviour.

Authoritarian parents, on the other hand, exert psychological control over their children. They believe they are the authority, and that they are always correct. Their children must always respect their judgement and ideals.

Authoritarian parents appear to be concerned about losing control of their children. As a result, they desire to do the polar opposite and become controlling parents in order to exert control over their children.

To maintain psychological control, authoritarian parents rely on their children’s dread of them. Children who are disciplined by their parents through psychological control are more likely to be meek, anxious, and reliant. Some children struggle to be free of such influence, which leads to externalizing behaviour issues.

Parents who are authoritative are more likely to agree with comments like these:

  • Before I ask my child to do something, I think about her wants and feelings.
  • I urge my child to express his emotions.
  • When my kid is afraid or unhappy, I attempt to comfort her. I explain why I have certain expectations for her. I accept my childrens viewpoint and encourage him or her to voice it…even if it differs from mine.

Parents are also regarded as less authoritative if they agree with the following statements:

  • I let my child get away with not finishing tasks;
  • I bribe my child to get him to do what I want;
  • I lash out at my child;
  • I punish my child by withholding affection.

For example, the comments above may make it appear that in order to be authoritative, you must manage your family like a mini-democracy. That, however, is not the case.

Alternatively, you could believe that authoritative parenting entails a high level of discipline. You may interpret the phrase about allowing kids “get away with leaving duties incomplete” as proof that authoritarian parents must punish every violation.

Again, this isn’t always the case.

The conventional concept of authoritative parenting, as we’ll see later, allows for some flexibility in these areas. Various researchers have used various screening techniques to determine who is “authoritative.”

Which Parenting Strategy Is Better? 

Many studies show that authoritative parenting is the most effective way to raise children. Children who are reared in an authoritarian environment are more likely to have mental health problems and have bad friendships.

But, if authoritarian parenting is so harmful, why do some parents continue to do it?

The explanation is that old habits are difficult to break. People who were raised by authoritarian parents are prone to adopting their parents’ behaviours.

Another factor is that authoritarian parenting is more convenient. It’s easy to lose your cool, but keeping your cool when you’re upset requires effort. Even parents who were reared in a strict family might have difficulties.

The reality is that no one is flawless. From time to time, we all make errors or lose our cool. What matters is that you acknowledge your errors when they occur.

Learn from your mistakes and be honest with your children about them. This not only sets a good example, but it also promotes attachment and positive connections.

Does Every Family’s Authoritative Parenting Look The Same?

Certainly not. Researchers identified an unusual tendency when they polled parents in four different countries: China, the United States, Russia, and Australia.

Authoritative parents in the United States and Australia were more likely to stress democratic behaviours such as taking a kid’s preferences into consideration when establishing family plans or encouraging a child to voice his or her own ideas.

However, authoritative parents in China and Russia did not consider their children’s choices while forming family arrangements. Most authoritative Chinese parents did not encourage their children to express their own ideas, especially if those viewpoints differed from their parents’ (Robinson et al 1996).

So, what did all four countries’ authoritarian parents have in common?

One of the most important common denominators was discipline.

Authoritative parents make it a point to reason with their children all over the world (Robinson et al 1997). When their children misbehaved, they talked to them about it and explained why the rules were in place.

Tips for Authoritative Parenting

You may be unfamiliar with authoritarian parenting. Maybe you’ve been doing it for a long time. These pointers can help you take your parenting approach to the next level, no matter where you are in your parenting experience.


Take the time to pay attention to your child. Don’t inquire about their day; instead, check your phone for emails. Maintain your focus.

It’s possible that you don’t always value what your child has to say. It might feel like a life or death situation to them. They will feel heard and valued if you stay connected and attentive.


Children do not have a comprehensive language or a grasp of their feelings when they are born. It is your responsibility to assist them in recognizing, naming, and understanding their feelings in relation to their actions.

Recognize that whatever they’re going through is normal. Avoid making invalidating remarks like “stop weeping” or “don’t be a baby.” These statements make children feel vulnerable and insecure.

Instead, concentrate on the actions rather than the emotions. It’s fine and natural to be furious. Hitting, kicking, and biting, on the other hand, are not permitted.

Make sure you explain the differences to your children.

Make Your Points Clearly

There are some regulations that cannot be changed. These might be age-specific regulations, educational guidelines, or rules that apply to the entire family. The most essential thing is to understand why these regulations exist.

“Keep your finger out of the lamp socket.”

This is a sensible and rational guideline for an adult, but it’s the equivalent of telling a toddler they can’t open a new present. As a result, offer them a reason. Even if kids don’t comprehend the dangers of electrocution, it will carry more weight than a generic “because I said so.”

The One-Warning System should be used.

There is no space for doubt about expectations when you are open and honest with your children. As a result, the results should come as no surprise.

Make sure not to discipline them harshly, especially for small offences like not finishing their chores on time. Instead, begin with a strong warning.  “If you don’t take out the garbage before supper, you won’t be able to play Minecraft with your friends.”

You’ve not only reaffirmed the expectation, but you’ve also set a concrete consequence. Now it’s up to you to follow through.

If your child fails to take out the garbage, you should not overlook the situation.

Provide incentives

Incentives are a great way to get people to work harder. These might range from a sticker for completing chores to money set aside for a family road vacation.

Incentives, on the other hand, are a two-sided coin. You can’t give in to your child’s crocodile tears and tantrums if they don’t keep their part of the bargain. On the other hand, if they stick to their word, you’d best keep your part of the agreement.

Make sure the expectations are reasonable for all parties involved whenever you utilize rewards in authoritative parenting.

Allow options and encourage self-control.

If you make all of your child’s decisions for them, they may find it difficult to make their own decisions later in life. Even simple questions such as “do you want cereal or toast?” encourage kids to think for themselves.

This method may also be used to control discipline and behaviour. Encourage your children to discover healthy methods to cope with their emotions, such as taking a walk or breathing deeply.

Encourage your child’s self-control and he or she will become more self-reliant. Make a checklist or timetable to assist them to remember instead of criticizing them for forgetting to complete something. Encourage them to go through the list every day and reward them for sticking to it.

How Authoritative And Authortiarain Styles Affect Kids

Overall, children with authoritative parents have higher outcomes. The sole exception is that some ethnic groups, such as African Americans and Asian Americans, have discrepancies in school performance.

It’s possible that having high standards and regularly enforcing limitations is one of the reasons why children with authoritative parents do better in school.

Excellent parental involvement in authoritative parenting is another element that contributes to high academic success. Authoritative parents are more likely to supervise their children’s schoolwork and volunteer at their children’s schools. According to research, parental involvement is closely connected to improved school achievement.

Authoritarian parents, on the other hand, have high expectations and set boundaries. Some parents are also highly active in their children’s education (e.g. Tiger mom parenting). This might explain why authoritarian parenting is connected with superior grades in some cultures, such as the Chinese.

Authoritarian parents, on the other hand, maintain strict psychological control and embrace harsh discipline. Regardless of academic achievement, children with authoritarian parents are more unhappy and have more mental health problems.

Battle Of the Parenting Styles: Authoritative vs Authoritarian 1

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  • Arsenio W and Ramos-Marcuse F. 2014. Children’s moral emotions, narratives, and aggression: relations with maternal discipline and support. J Genet Psychol. 175(5-6):528-46.
  • Baumrind D. 1966. Effects of authoritative parental control on child behaviour. Child Development, 37(4), 887-907.
  • Baumrind D. 1991. The influence of parenting style on adolescent competence and substance use. Journal of Early Adolescence 11(1): 56-95.
  • Bednar DE and Fisher TD. 2003. Peer referencing in adolescent decision making as a function of perceived parenting style. Adolescence. 38(152):607-21.
  • Benchaya MC, Bisch NK, Moreira TC, Ferigolo M, and Barros HM. 2011. Non-authoritative parents and impact on drug use: the perception of adolescent children. J Pediatr (Rio J). 87(3):238-44

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