Positive Discipline and Parenting Styles

People use or adapt to various parenting styles. It is common to fall in the middle, showing aspects of more than one style. You may also find yourself changing styles, depending on the experience, age, and maturity of your child. It is important to keep in mind that a positive and respectful approach can help you both.

  • Authoritarian
  • Neglectful
  • Permissive
  • Authoritative-democratic

Authoritarian parenting style: If you use this style, you value obedience, may use physical punishment, and usually don’t allow freedoms or choices. Children of authoritarian parents may become followers and dependent on others to make decisions. They may also develop a sense of low self-esteem and may become aggressive or defiant.

Neglectful parenting style: With this style, parental involvement is limited and tends to reject or ignore the child. Children with neglectful parents may face many challenges, including difficulties with skill development, trust, and self-esteem.

Permissive parenting style: Do you frequently give in to you child’s demands, set very few rules and guidelines, provide little structure, and establish limits but do not enforce them? Children parented with this style may have low self-control and little ability to handle frustration. They may also have slow growth in maturity and have difficulty with responsibility. It is important to remember that children do not need or want freedom without limitations.

Authoritative-democratic parenting style: Parents with this style help their children learn to be responsible for themselves and to think about the consequences of their behavior. With this style, you tend to provide clear, reasonable expectations and check to make sure your child follows through. This parenting style focuses on positive encouragement and appropriate expectations for the child.

Discipline & Guidance » Links & Resources


Lerner, C. & Dombro, A.L. (2000). Learning & Growing Together: Understanding Your Child’s Development. Washington, D.C.: ZERO TO THREE

Nelson, J., Erwin, C. & Duffy, R. (2007). Positive Discipline: The First Three Years. New York, NY: Three Rivers Press.