Authoritarian Parenting (A complete guide)

Authoritarian parenting is a parenting style consisting of high standards and low receptiveness.

Parents with this demanding style have very high expectations of their children, yet deliver very slight, if any, affection and nurturance to them.

Broken rules and mistakes tend to be disciplined severely; yelling and physical penalty are also usually seen in the authoritarian style.

People with this parenting style frequently employ punishments rather than correction, but are not willing or able to explain the reasoning behind their instructions or actions.

How can it influence children? 

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These impacts include: 

  • demonstrating poor social aptitudes 
  • Anger, depression, aggression, and loneliness 
  • lower levels of confidence 
  • Behavioral issues
  • more elevated levels of discouragement 

If severe discipline such as shouting is utilized, it is more liable to elicit conduct issues in children and youths.

They may grow up normalizing violent behaviors and enact them.

Before continuing into the details, it should be said that parents typically do not remain in one class of parenting.

A parent of a toddler, for instance, may act more in the authoritarian style of parenting and anticipate that a baby should comply with the rule not to touch a hot oven.

As the toddler grows into a teenager, the parent may act more in the authoritative style and speak to the teenager about why rules about texting and driving exist and encourage feedback from the teen.

Characteristics of Authoritarian Parents

Baumrind supposed that one of the main roles that parents play in a child’s life is to expose them to the norms and expectations of their culture.

How parents achieve this can vary upon the strictness they possess over their children.

Rather than valuing self-control and training children to act in their own way, the authoritarian parent is founded on firm adherence to authority.

In place of rewarding positive behaviours, the authoritarian parent only delivers response in the form of penalties for misbehaviour.

Positive reinforcement is not a technique utilized by these parents and overall affection is little to none.

The following are the most common characteristics of authoritarian parenting:

Ø  Authoritarian parents tend to be very demanding

Authoritarian parents have a habit of being incredibly demanding and not reactive.

They have lots of instructions and may even interfere with almost every feature of their children’s lives and behaviours.

Such rubrics apply to nearly every feature of life, from how a child is expected to behave in the home to how they should act in their community.

Moreover, they also have many spoken rules that childs are expected to follow, even though the child receives little to no clear instructions about these rules.

In its place, children are simply expected to know that these rules exist.

Ø  They do not show much warmth

They do not demonstrate much affection, warmth, or nurturing to their children. Parents with this style often seem cold, aloof, and harsh.

These parents are more probable to be irritated by their children and become angry with them, rather than providing encouragement and praise.

They value discipline over fun and tend to believe that children should be seen and not heard.

Ø  Strict parents utilize punishments

Strict parents utilize punishments with little to no clarification regarding the punishments.

Parents who follow the authoritarian parenting style typically have no problem resorting to corporal punishment.

Rather than relying on positive reinforcement, they respond swiftly and severely when their rules are broken.

Ø  They do not give choices to their children

Authoritarian parents do not give their children options or choices when it comes to nearly everything.

Strict parents set the rules and have a “my way or the highway” mentality to discipline.

There is little room for compromise and they rarely permit their children to make their own choices.

Ø  They have little to no patience for misbehaviour 

Strict parents expect their children to know better than to involve themselves in what the parents consider undesirable behaviours.

They lack the patience for explanation as to why their children should avoid certain behaviours or to listen to their children about their feelings.

Ø  Strict parents do not believe their children

Strict parents do not have faith in their children to make good choices.

While parents with authoritarian style have high standards and severe rules, they also do not give their children much liberty to prove that they can display good behaviour and make good choices.

Rather than letting their children make decisions on their own and face the natural consequences for those choices, authoritarian parents hover over their children in order to ensure that they do not make errors.

Ø  They are not keen to negotiate

Strict parents do not believe in gray areas. Circumstances are viewed as black and white and there is little to no room for compromise.

Children do not get a say when it comes to setting rules or making choices about their lives.

Ø  They may shame their children

Authoritarian parents may shame their children to manipulate them to behave the way the parents want.

Some ways they might emp[loy shame is by asking their children, “Why do you continuously do that?” “How many times do I have to tell you the same thing?” and “Why can’t you do anything right?”.

Rather than building up their child’s self-esteem, these parents defer to shaming their child, hoping that will inspire them to do better.

Ø  Authoritarian Parents Only Allow One-Way Communication.

Authoritarian parents rarely include children in any decision making.

If a child asks their parent why, the authoritarian parent often responds, “because I said so.”

The parents do not pursue or permit response from their children and expect them to blindly follow their command.

Any effort to respond to their parents is seen as the child back-talking or testing the parents. 

Effects on the children

Parenting styles have been seen to impart a diversity of effects on the children.

Some of those characteristics include the following:

Ø  They associate agreement and achievement with love

Ø  Exhibit more violent behaviours outside the home

Ø  Have little to no respect for authority

Ø  Act excessively shy around other people

Ø  Have low self-esteem

Ø  Have trouble in social circumstances due to an absence of social capability

Ø  Become depressed and/or anxious

Ø  Have trouble making decisions

Because authoritarian parents desire complete obedience, children who grow up in such surroundings are often very good at following rules, though, they may lack self-control as they were unable to act self-sufficiently, so they never actually learn how to set their own boundaries and personal values.

This can eventually lead to problems when the parent is not around to monitor behaviour.

While psychological development experts decide that rules and limits are significant for children to have, most trust that authoritarian parenting is too disciplinary and lacks the warm, unconditional love, and nurturance that children need.

Examples of Authoritarian Parenting

There are many ways in which an authoritarian parent can act. Some examples are the following:

v Parent instills fear and threatens their child to get the child to cooperate

v Parent uses physical punishment to reprimand a child for disobeying them

v Parent frequently shouts at their child

v Child is not given a chance to voice their opinion when it comes to making decisions 

v Parent enforces firm rules and will not see compromise

v Child obtains little to no affection from their parent

v Parent does not have empathy for their child

Other parenting styles

Following are other styles of parenting

Authoritative parenting

Authoritative parenting uses instructions and discipline and is strict like authoritarian, but it is used with thoughtfulness to the child.

An authoritative parent explains their reasonings behind the rules they make and consequences they assign so that the child understands where they are coming from.

It inspires respect and intimacy, along with a loving association. 

Permissive parenting

Permissive parenting is very much the precise reverse of authoritarian childrearing.

Parents set the tone that anything goes by not setting any rules for their children.

Obedience is not really expected and there is not any discipline.

This parenting method may appear more warm, intimate, and loving, but there are no limits.

Parents are seen more as friends than parents.

Permissive parenting is also occasionally called as indulgent parenting, because by being so lenient, parents endorse their child’s every whim and thus, poor behavior.

Advantages and disadvantages of Authoritarian Parenting 

Following points helps us to understand the pros and cons of authoritarian parenting.


v Child respects the authority of their parents

v Child follows the rules that are set by their parents at home

v Parent is in complete control 


v Parents yells and instills fear in their child

v Parent is strict and overly demanding

v Child can develop social and emotional challenges

v Child gains no self-assurance and becomes a painfully shy person

v Child loses out on experiences

Last Thoughts on Authoritarian Parenting 

A research concentrate in Hong Kong shows that 54% of Chinese students 15 to 19 years of age report thoughts of suicide, contrasted with 36% of middle school and secondary school students in the United States13,14.

This suicidal ideation is altogether connected with authoritarian parenting, low parental warmth, high maternal demands, and a negative family atmosphere. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is an example of authoritarian parenting?

An example would be when a parent sets a strict rule, such as their child being home by 7pm on a school night and responding extremely negatively if the child breaks that.

Should the child be late, say 7:15pm, the parent would punish them immediately by yelling or spanking them without hearing the child out as to why they were late.

What are the four types of parenting styles?

– Authoritarian

– Permissive

– Uninvolved

– Authoritative

How is authoritarian parenting different from authoritative?

Both authoritative and authoritarian parents are strict and have high expectations of their children, however authoritative parents are strict and warm towards their children, while authoritarian parents are strict and cold.

Authoritative parents typically discuss and explain rules and consequences to their children, whereas authoritarian parents employ one-way communication and do not discuss their reasonings with their children.

What percentage of parents are authoritarian?

According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, 50% of parents were described as authoritative, 8% authoritarian, 23% permissive, and 19% uninvolved.

Is authoritarian parenting abusive?

Authoritarian parenting is not necessarily abusive.

It can certainly become abusive, but it is not considered abusive typically.

 Interested in learning more about authoritarian parenting? Check out these books:

Become a better Parent: Everything You Need to Know about the Different Parenting Styles 

This book explores parenting techniques and aims to help the reader discover what is best for their family.

The author shares her own experiences to help the reader understanding the techniques and determine what is best for them. 

The Parent Effect: How Parenting Style Affects Adolescent Behavior and Personality Development

This book delves into how parenting styles affect a child’s development into adolescence.

Using case studies as examples, the book aims to tease out the differences in style and respond to what the authors deem “an unmet need in the field of parenting.”


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