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Diana Baumrind: Parenting Styles & Theory

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  • 0:02 Diana Baumrind and…
  • 1:32 Authoritarian Parenting
  • 2:16 Permissive Parenting
  • 2:51 Authoritative Parenting
  • 3:24 Effect on Children's Behavior
  • 4:10 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Emily Cummins
This lesson discusses the parenting theory developed by psychologist Diana Baumrind, including her three main parenting styles. At the end of the lesson, test your knowledge of her different styles with a quiz.

Diana Baumrind and Parenting Styles

What kind of parent do you think you'll be? Will you be strict? Will your kids have an early curfew? Or will you be a more lax parent, allowing candy and television before bed?

Psychologists have actually put a lot of thought into these questions, as different parenting styles affect children in different ways.

Diana Baumrind is one of those psychologists, as well as one of the most well-known researchers on parenting styles. She earned a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Psychology from the University of California at Berkeley. In the 1960s, Baumrind developed her Pillar Theory, which draws relationships between basic parenting styles and children's behavior. See if you recognize your parents in any of Baumrind's styles of parenting.

Before we get to the parenting styles, however, do you remember the tale of Goldilocks and the Three Bears? In the story, Goldilocks tries a few different porridges, deeming one too hot, one too cold and one just right. Okay, this might seem like a totally random point to bring up, but hang on. Baumrind actually distinguished among parenting styles by identifying one as too hard, one as too soft and one as just right.

After studying how children and parents relate in the home, Baumrind came up with three major parenting styles:

  • Authoritarian, which is too hard
  • Permissive, which is too soft
  • Authoritative, which is just right

Authoritarian Parenting

Let's go into a little bit more depth. Authoritarian parenting is a style of child rearing that is very demanding and rigid. Authoritarian parents are extremely strict and expect their orders to be obeyed. Think of the popular image of an army drill sergeant. Authoritarian parents expect their rules to be followed unquestioningly.

Abusive parents almost always fall into this category. That said, Baumrind did not believe that all authoritarian parents are abusive. Authoritarian parents show low levels of warmth or responsiveness, meaning they are not very attentive to children's needs. They also tend to punish their children by withholding love and affection from them when they do wrong.

Permissive Parenting

On the opposite end of the spectrum is the permissive parent, or a parent who is not strict at all. Contrary to the authoritarian parent, the permissive parent is extremely responsive to a child's needs and does not enforce many rules or punishments. The term spoiled is often used to describe the children of permissive parents.

Permissive parents tend not to impose guidelines or limits on their children and are very warm and loving. Nor do they expect their children to be very responsible. Permissive parents tend not to portray themselves as authority figures.

Authoritative Parenting

Finally, an authoritative parenting style is characterized by a combination of expectations and warmth. Authoritative parents present themselves as authority figures and expect their children to behave but they are also caring, loving and responsive.

Authoritative parents might punish their children if they misbehave. However, they're also more likely to talk about the meaning of the punishment and how the child can improve behavior going forward. Authoritative parents are more open communicators than authoritarian parents.

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