Parenting Styles and Children’s Personalities

· April 14, 2019
We all know that parents have their particular styles when it comes to raising children. Each parenting style affects children's personalities differently.

It’s common knowledge that parents have a great influence on the way their children’s personalities develop. Social scientists believe the family is the principal agent of socialization.

As a result, parenting style plays a big role on children’s psychosocial development, which is why the way parents choose to raise their children is very important.

Your parenting style refers to the way you approach your children’s needs for guidance and discipline on a day-to-day basis, including how you make decisions and resolve conflicts in the household.

To what extent can our way of parenting influence the development of our children’s personalities?

Parenting styles: discipline and affection

The style that parents use to raise and educate their children isn’t just a tool for instilling desirable traits and teaching children to behave. Children also acquire a series of aptitudes and personal characteristics as a result.

Drawing from the psychology of life cycle development, we’ve come to understand that there are two basic dimensions when it comes to raising our children: the discipline-exigence dimension and the affective-receptive dimension.

Affection: this is based primarily on acceptance. That is, the parents convey their affection and concern for their children in a way that makes them feel comfortable and secure in their presence.

Discipline: this can also be defined as control. It’s present in parents whose behavior towards their children is largely concerned with instilling a set of desired behaviors.

Classification of parenting styles

The clinical psychologist Diana Baumrind (1971) was a pioneer in inferring about parenting styles. She classified approaches to parenting according to how they combine the different dimensions of affection and discipline. Baumrind also defined four parenting styles according to these two dimensions:

Authoritarian. This parenting style is characterized by the predominant use of discipline. Parents have high expectations that children fulfill norms. Additionally, there is also largely one-way communication in this approach.

Permissive. This style is the opposite of the authoritarian style. These parents base their philosophy on affection. They let children make their own decisions and exercise little control over them.

Parenting Styles and Children's Personalities

Neglectful: The emotionally absent or uninvolved parents. This is considered the worst of the parenting styles because the parents aren’t present in either of the parenting dimensions.

Democratic: This is considered the ideal educational style or the most appropriate. In this view, parents make an effort to teach good behavior through a system of rules that are based on interaction and affection.

“Socialization isn’t something that parents do to the child; it’s a reciprocal process that parents and children do together.”

Consequences for the child’s personality

Undoubtedly, the way you raise your children has a big effect on their personality. It’s a determining factor in their academic performance, their social relations, their emotional security and even their possible professional success in the future.

Maccoby and Martin (1983) in Socialization in the Context of the Family outline each of the parenting styles and the subsequent effects noted in children’s personalities:

  • Adolescent children raised under the authoritarian style have high levels of academic achievement. Nonetheless, they also have low self-esteem, little autonomy, and few social skills.
  • Permissive parenting generates high levels of self-esteem and confidence. However, the children tend to be egocentric, disobedient, and exhibit low performance in school.
  • Very little self-control and aggressiveness are some of the traits that are a consequence of the neglectful or uninvolved style of parenting. the children raised in this way also have a greater tendency to have psychological disorders.
  • Parents who use the democratic style of parenting generate a family climate that is based on mutual respect and cooperation. As a result, children develop a self-concept that is realistic and positive. At the same time, they have a lot of motivation to be successful. This translates into a good level of achievement academically.
Parenting Styles and Children's Personalities

Conclusion: Reasoning with children

In conclusion, this theory of different parenting styles should be considered in conjunction with more general understandings of child behavior. That is to say, parenting styles can vary depending on each family’s particular needs and circumstances.

However, it’s clear that the democratic style of parenting is highly efficient. It leads to good communication between parent and child.

Finally, explaining our decisions to our children and why we follow certain norms in a reasoned way shows sensitivity to their needs. It creates an affective environment for communicating with them.

Consequently, this will help your children develop a realistic outlook on life and a healthy, positive personality.

  • Maccoby, E.E. y Martin, J.A. (1983). Socialization in the context of the family. In E.M. Hetherington (Ed.). Handbook of Child Pyschology. Vol 4. Socialization, personality and Social development. (pp. 1-101). New York: Willey.
  • Torío, S., Peña, J.V. y Rodríguez, M.C. (2008). Estilos educativos parentales. Revisión bibliográfica y reformulación teórica. Universidad de Oviedo, Vol 20, (pp. 151-178). España.