Need to talk? Call 1800 882 436.
It's a free call with a maternal child health nurse. *call charges may apply from your mobile

Is it an emergency? Dial 000
If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately.

beginning of content

Parenting styles

4-minute read

The way you parent your children can have a major and enduring impact on the type of adult they become. Parents work in different ways. Most parents use a mix of parenting styles, but most tend to lean towards one style. Each style of parenting may lead to different outcomes for children.

Factors influencing parenting styles

There are many influences on the way you interact with your child, including: how you were raised; how you see other parents act; your situation and how much support you have; how you and your child interact; and your culture and values.

What are the types of parenting styles?

Child development experts have identified 4 main styles of parenting:

  • Authoritarian parents: tend to lay down strict rules with little input from the child.
  • Authoritative (or supportive) parents: have firm expectations, but they also listen to their child and are more nurturing and forgiving.
  • Permissive parents: struggle to say ‘no’ and set boundaries. They are more likely to treat a child as an equal.
  • Uninvolved parents: are disengaged and emotionally detached from their child’s life.

What are the limitations and benefits of different parenting styles?

Authoritarian

Children of authoritarian parents may be obedient and successful at school, but they may develop low self-esteem and poor social skills.

Authoritative (or supportive)

Authoritative (or supportive) parents want their children to be assertive, happy and socially responsible — and they usually are.

Permissive

Children of permissive parents often have good self-esteem and social skills, but are more likely to have poor self-regulation and may have problems with authority as adolescents and adults.

Uninvolved

This form of parenting has an overall negative impact on a child’s life, with poor outcomes in emotional wellbeing, social skills and academic achievement.

What parenting style is right for you and your child?

Your parenting style can affect your child’s self-esteem and confidence. The key to effective parenting is to develop respectful relationships with your children, so that problems can be resolved in a calm, fair and kindly way. Ultimately, as a parent, you must act with loving responsibility, explaining to a child: ‘You get a say and I’ll listen, but sometimes, I’ll need to take charge’.

The authoritative (or supportive) style of parenting allows you to act in this way. Supportive parenting works best for children. Parents are warm and loving and provide clear guidance and support.

Secure relationships

The authoritative (or supportive) style of parenting also helps children to develop secure relationships, which they need to establish with the important people in their lives. They need a balance between being allowed to explore their world and take manageable risks, and the structure provided by adults who set limits and take charge when the need arises.

It’s your role as a parent to set limits — ‘It’s ok to play with the water in the bath, but it’s not ok to splash it all over the floor’ — and, to set rules for safety — ‘If you won’t hold my hand, you can’t come with me to the shops’.

When a child feels secure, they develop self-confidence and self-regulation. A child is more able to behave positively if they know that a reliable adult will give them directions and help them to manage big feelings and events.

How to be a supportive parent

Here are some practical tips to use the authoritative (or supportive) style of parenting:

Build your connection with your children: Spend individual time with them and try to see things from their point of view. Be interested in things that interest them. Know what’s happening for them, go to their activities or sports and get to know their friends.

Show your love: Tell them you love them and give hugs and cuddles.

Talk and listen: Children will benefit from your full attention.

Inspire achievement: Encourage children to have a go at different things that interest them and practice their skills.

Guide and support: Let children know what is OK and what is not OK.

Be a positive role model: Behave in ways you expect your children to behave and treat people the way you want your children to treat others. Live the values you want them to have.

For more information on how to be a supportive parent, see this guide from the SA Government.

Sources:

Parenting SA (What is your parenting style?), The Conversation (From tiger to free-range parents – what research says about pros and cons of popular parenting styles), Triple P (5 steps to positive parenting)

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: April 2021


Back To Top

Need more information?

Different parenting styles? How to get on the same team. - Triple P Positive Parenting Australia

There shouldn’t be a “tough” parent & a “fun” parent says Triple P's positive parenting. Find out how to make it easier to agree on discipline and rules.

Read more on Triple P - Positive Parenting Program website

Positive parenting

The Triple P – Positive Parenting Program offers valuable parenting advice for mums, dads, step-parents, guardians and carers to nuture and care for their child.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Positive parenting for busy school mornings

In the morning rush of getting out of bed and packing school lunches, showing a child love and affection helps start the day on a positive note.

Read more on Parenthub website

Get better parenting tips | Triple P Positive – Parenting Program - Triple P Positive Parenting Australia

Triple P is a positive parenting program with classes, courses and sessions for every parent. Find out how you can have happy kids & a happier family.

Read more on Triple P - Positive Parenting Program website

5 Steps to Positive Parenting | Make family life happier - Triple P Positive Parenting Australia

Get the basics of the Triple P – Positive Parenting Program and get ready for better behaviour, stronger relationships, less stress and much more. Read on...

Read more on Triple P - Positive Parenting Program website

Sore loser syndrome - Triple P Positive Parenting Australia

Is your child a sore loser? Or is your child a bad winner? You can help them be a good sport with Triple P’s positive parenting tips.

Read more on Triple P - Positive Parenting Program website

Kids in the morning | Set routines that work - Triple P Positive Parenting Australia

Child who won’t get up in the morning, eat breakfast or get dressed for school? Triple P’s positive parenting tips help you get out the door on time.

Read more on Triple P - Positive Parenting Program website

Teach kids to solve problems on their own - Triple P Positive Parenting Australia

Help your child learn how to solve problems & you give them a skill for life. Find out how with these tips from the Triple P – Positive Parenting Program.

Read more on Triple P - Positive Parenting Program website

Parenting during COVID-19 - Triple P Positive Parenting Australia

Read more on Triple P - Positive Parenting Program website

Standard Triple P – For more serious behaviour problems - Triple P Positive Parenting Australia

Battle with your kids from morning to night? Get one-on-one support that is practical & really works. Try Triple P Positive Parenting's "Standard" course.

Read more on Triple P - Positive Parenting Program website

Call us and speak to a Maternal Child Health Nurse for personal advice and guidance.

Need further advice or guidance from our maternal child health nurses?

This information is for your general information and use only and is not intended to be used as medical advice and should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any medical condition, nor should it be used for therapeutic purposes.

The information is not a substitute for independent professional advice and should not be used as an alternative to professional health care. If you have a particular medical problem, please consult a healthcare professional.

Except as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, this publication or any part of it may not be reproduced, altered, adapted, stored and/or distributed in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of Healthdirect Australia.