7 Positive Authoritative Parenting Effects on Children

authoritative parenting examples and definition, explained below

Authoritative parenting is widely thought to be an ideal parenting style. It has been shown to have positive effects on children, including high self-confidence, high grade point averages at college, emotional control, self-reliance, and lower than average behavioral issues.

Authoritative parenting should not be confused with authoritarian parenting. Here’s the difference:

  • An authoritarian parent imposes tough rules and tends not to listen to the input of the child. It is an ‘adult knows best’ and ‘tough love’ approach. The rules are there because “I said so.” (see: authoritarian parenting effects).
  • An authoritative parentis respected by the child because they demonstrate to the child that they are fair, they care, they have high expectations, and they listen to the child. The child knows the true reason for rules to exist.

The Four Signs of Authoritative Parenting

1. You set rules that are reasonable

Authoritative parents impose rules in the house, like a bedtime, bathing time, and doing your homework before play. However, these rules are explained to the child – the child may even suggest them after some discussion.

Importantly, the parent discussthe benefits of these rules with the children.The parent ensure the children know that these are reasonable rules and the child understands their rationale. Rationales might be about safety, responsibility, priorities, etc.

By discussing the reasoning behind the rules, the child is more likely to consent to them and respect the parent’s authority

2. You allow autonomy and independence

An authoritative parent understands that children need to develop their own autonomy and independence in order to be happy and confident. For example, the parent may allow the child to play with dirt, make mistakes, and pursue their interests, under appropriate parental supervision.

Allowing autonomy does not always mean that the parent is permissive. There is a difference between being a permissive parent and one who is authoritative but allows freedom.

For an authoritative parent, freedom has to do with exploration and its benefits. A child of a permissive parent doesn’t have any guidelines or support.

See More: Independence Examples

3. You explain to children why you impose consequences

An authoritative parent explains why the rules are there and ensures that the children’s bad actions have consequences.

These consequences are not too punitive but rather restorative. For example, the parent may use negative reinforcement, such as reducing a child’s allowance, as a direct consequence for the child’s violation of a rule.

The key here is that the parent explains why this is necessary to the child. The parent and child will have a discussion about why the rule shouldn’t be broken beyond “because I said so”.

4. You have high expectations and unconditional positive regard

An authoritative parent tends to have very high expectations of their child, but also lets the child know that failure is a part of learning. When a child fails, the parent is not angry but rather supportive – they will always see potential in the child.

High expectations may be set at school, in social interactions, or during at-home activities. It does not mean you expect the child to be the best at anything. Rather, you expect the child to try their best. The child is expected to always strive to be the best they can be.

Unconditional positive regard is a concept from the humanist theory. It means that you always see your child in a positive light, even when they fail. This helps the child to feel cared for and safe, and theoretically means the child will not be afraid to try and fail.

7 Authoritative Parenting Effects on Children

1. A tendency to be independent and self-reliant

Children who grew up with an authoritative parent are often found to be more independent and self-reliant than children of parents from other parenting styles (Kuppens and Ceulemans, 2019).

This is because these children are encouraged to explore, seek self-improvement, and exercise freedom of choice from a young age. This should help them to develop confidence.

These children grow up with fair and manageable expectations of what they can do. They’re encouraged to exercise personal agency, and are told that they are capable of great things if they try their best.

2. A tendency to have strong emotional control

Studies (Johnson et al., 1983)have found that children of authoritative parents and teachers are some of the most emotionally stable because they have supportive role models and an emotional stable environment.

For example, (Johnson et al., 1983) found that children whose teachers followed the authoritative parenting style tended to be highly adjusted to school.

This is in contrast, for example, to authoritarian caregivers, who might be overly harsh on their children, leading the child to become withdrawn and lacking in self-confidence. Similarly, a child of a permissive parent may not receive guardrails that are required in order for children to learn self-control and how to deal with frustration.

Furthermore, according to self-control theory, if your child can control their emotions, they’re more likely to be upstanding citizens and less likely to face problems with the law.

3. A tendency to have advanced social skills

Children who grow up in a supportive environment with fair but firm rules should not develop a sense of self-entitlement. They know that they must work within the rules to get what they want.

They also should understand that their behaviors affect others because they have had many discussions with their parents about real-life effects of their behaviors on others.

Since they grew up with boundaries, these children should also learn how to respect other people’s boundaries. They ideally will behave in ways that are also fair but firm, because that’s the environment they are used to.

As a result, they could potentially relate to other individualsbetter (Baumrind, 1971).

4. A tendency to have a happy disposition

According to Baker et al. (2009), a child who knows the reasoning behind rules is likely to be happier with their position in life because they do not see the rules as unfair or constricting.

Contrast this to thepermissive parenting style: here, a child who doesn’t get their way will not be taught to understand why they don’t get their way and how to deal with it. The parenting is largely absent, and theoretically, this leads to less emotional stability and therefore less happiness overall.

Furthermore, growing up in an environment with unconditional love and unconditional positive regard should theoretically help a child to grow up happy because they know they are safe and secure.

5. A tendency to be assertive and knows they want

The children of authoritative parents are ideally assertive, not rude. They are trained to express themselves, but high expectations are set on how to do it politely.

They also know that their parents are there to listen and hear their concerns, giving them plenty of opportunities to practice asserting their feelings.

Since these children can also regulate their emotions, they may also be less aggressive than other children.

6. Generally low behavioral issues

Some studies (Kuppens and Ceulemans, 2019)have found correlation between the authoritative parenting style and low levels of behavioral problems in children.

The Kuppens and Ceulemans(2019) study looked at 600 Flemish families with elementary-school aged children 8-10 years old. Parenting styles was measured using a 19-item scale called the Ghent Parental Behavior Scale (Van Leeuwen &Vermulst, 2004).

This study found that “…children of two positive authoritative parents demonstrated the lowest levels of conduct problems” (p. 177).

7. Higher average intelligence than other parenting styles

Tanvir et al. (2016) studies the four parenting stylesof the parents of university students at The Islamia University of Bahawalpur in Pakistan. The study found higher academic achievement among children of authoritative parents.

Eighty university students (ages 17-22 years old) responded to the Parental Authority Questionnaire (PAQ; Buri, 1991) regarding the parenting styles of their mother and father. Data for the students’ CGPA were also collected.

The results of the study revealed “…that there is a significant positive relationship between authoritative parenting style of parents and academic achievement of children” (p. 37).


The authoritative parenting style is theoretically the most effective of all types of parenting. Therefore, it is favored by many child experts, provided that the parent does not confuse it with authoritarian parenting.

In essence, authoritarian parenting is about respecting children as competent and capable people. There are rules,negotiated with the child and fairly explained, which give them legitimacy. In addition, the authoritative parent also ensures that the child receives proper nurture and that the child is encouraged to strive to be their best self in a safe and nurturing environment.


Baker, J. A., Clark, T. P., Crowl, A., & Carlson, J. S. (2009). The influence of authoritative teaching on children’s school adjustment: Are children with behavioural problems differentially affected? School Psychology International, 30, 374-382.https://doi.org/10.1177/0143034309106945

Baumrind, D. (1966). Effects of authoritative parental control on child behavior. Child Development, 37(4), 887-907.

Baumrind, D. (1971). Current patterns of parental authority. Developmental Psychology Monographs, 4, 1-103.

Buri J. R. (1991). Parental authority questionnaire. Journal of Personality Assessment, 57(1), 110–119. https://doi.org/10.1207/s15327752jpa5701_13

Henrich, J., Heine, S., &Norenzayan, A. (2010). The weirdest people in the world? The Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 33(2-3), 61-83. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0140525X0999152X

Johnson, D. W., Johnson, R. T. and Anderson, D. (1983) Social Interdependence and Classroom Climate. Journal of Psychology, 114, 135–42.

Kuppens, S., &Ceulemans, E. (2019). Parenting Styles: A Closer Look at a Well-Known Concept. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 28(1), 168–181. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-018-1242-x

Tanvir, M., Khurram, F., Khizer, U., & Fayyaz, S. (2016). Parenting style and its effects on academic achievement of children. International SAMANM Journal of Business and Social Sciences, 4(1), 30-42.

Turner, E., Chandler, M., &Heffer, R. (2009). The influence of parenting styles, achievement motivation, and self-efficacy on academic performance in college students. Journal of College Student Development, 50(3), 337-346. https://doi.org/10.1353/csd.0.0073 Van Leeuwen, K. G., &Vermulst, A. (2004). Some psychometric properties of the Ghent Parental Behavior Scale. European Journal of Psychological Assessment, 20, 283–298. https://doi.org/10.1027/1015-5759.20.4.283

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Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]

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