How Aggressive Parents Affect Children

Instructor: Millicent Kelly

Millicent has been teaching at the university level since 2004. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice and a Master's degree in Human Resources.

Parents can raise their children any way they see fit. Unfortunately, not all parents make the most appropriate parenting choices. This lesson will review how aggressive parenting affects children and their development.

Angry Parenting

Angry parent
Angry Mother

Jane is 32 years old and is still trying to make sense of the way she was raised. She recalls that during her childhood, her father was rarely around, leaving her mother to care for the home and the children pretty much on her own. Jane's mother was an angry person and lost her temper quite quickly. During Jane's teenage years, her mother was constantly screaming at her and telling her she would never amount to much of anything. Jane recalls her mother grabbing her and shaking her on several occasions. Due to her mother's aggression, Jane left home at the age of 18 and moved in with a friend. She is now in therapy, determined not to repeat this behavior with her own children.

Parenting Styles

In order to better understand the impact parents like Jane's mother have on their children, it's important to understand differences in parenting styles. There are four primary styles of parenting that have been identified from a psychological perspective:

  1. The authoritative parent - this style is considered to be the most preferred parenting style. The authoritative parent sets high standards for their child, but is forgiving and encouraging when their child fails to meet these standards. Parents who are authoritative tend to set routines, outline expectations and consequences, follow through, and communicate effectively and frequently with their children. The authoritative parent-child bond is usually solid and respectful.
  2. The neglectful parent - neglectful parents don't care for their children's basic needs. Often these types of parents don't know where their children are, who they are spending time with, or what they are doing. They might leave kids home alone at ages where they need to be supervised. Children of neglectful parents may appear unkempt or underfed.
  3. The permissive parent - this type of parent has a difficult time saying no. Often times, permissive parents are more concerned about being a child's friend than they are with setting up routines and expectations. They tend to lack consistency in applying behavioral consequences. This parenting style can be just as harmful as a neglectful style because it can lead to children calling all the shots, and doing whatever it is they want.
  4. The authoritarian parent - these parents are concerned with rules and the punishment associated with those rules. Authoritarian parents are rigid and don't really allow children to make any choices. These types of parents often seem cold and have a difficult time expressing love to their children. Communication tends to be from parent to child only, with no room for dialogue.

Aggressive Parenting

Of the four parenting styles above, the authoritarian parent is most likely to become an aggressive parent. Aggressive parenting can take many forms including verbal and physical aggression, and can have detrimental effects on children. Research shows that babies exposed to aggressive parenting early on, are more likely to become aggressive children, teens, and even adults. Some characteristic behaviors of aggressive parents include:

  • Implementing overly harsh disciplinary actions
  • Using punishments that humiliate children
  • Instilling fear to get control
  • Yelling and screaming at children
  • Physical abuse

Effects of Aggressive Parenting on Child Development

Aggressive parenting can have serious impacts on child development or the way in which children grow socially, emotionally, and physically. Children who experience aggressive parenting are more likely to:

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