Authoritarian Parenting: What’s it about?

Publicado en : Abr 29, 2024
By Dr. Ana Aznar

Authoritarian parenting style is, with authoritative, permissive, and neglectful, one of the four traditional parenting styles. These four parenting styles were first quoted by psychologists Baumrid, Maccoby, and Martin, after observing thousands of parents and children.  

Authoritative parenting is the gold standard of parenting. In contrast, authoritarian, permissive and neglectful parenting are not that good for children.  

Let’s have a look at authoritarian parenting and how it relates to children’s development.  

Authoritarian parenting  

Authoritarian (1) parents are cold and demanding. Parents expect their children to do as they are told. Good behavior is always expected. Rules are strict, non-negotiable, and not clearly explained. They do not encourage intimacy nor trust. Children’s opinions and desires are not considered.  

When authoritarian parents discipline (2) their children, they don’t explain to their child why their behaviour was wrong. They use punishments and may get physical. They tend to be harsh and coercive. Parents may tell their children that they won’t love then anymore if they misbehave.  

Children raised by authoritarian parents are more likely to: 

  • Have mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. 

  • Have low self-esteem. 

  • Have poor social skills. 

  • Show behavioral problems. 

  • Do poorly at school. 

  • Be hostile and rebellious towards their parents. (3) 

How to know if you are an authoritarian parent? 

You are authoritarian if you tend to: 

  • Yell at your child when they misbehave.  

  • Grab your child when they are being disobedient. 

  • Scold and critize your child when their behavior doesn’t meet your expectations. 

  • Say something like “because I say so” or “I am your parent and I want you to”, when your child challenges a rule. 

  • Punish your child by taking privileges away (e.g., “You can’t have your phone for a week!”) with little or no explanation. 

  • Not allow your child to have a say about family rules. 

I recognize myself in many of the things you have just mentioned. What’s the problem? 

If you are cold towards your child, they won’t feel loved. They may even feel rejected. It is important that children feel loved by their parents. This helps them develop a sense of self-worth, belonging, and safety. (4) 

Many parents say: “It’s my job to be tough with my child, but they know I love them.” There is no doubt that authoritarian parents love their children. But as parents we must realize that it is not enough that we love them. They must feel our love. It doesn’t matter that you see yourself as a loving parent if your child doesn’t feel the same.  

The second issue with authoritarian parents is that they don’t listen to their children. They don’t take their feelings and opinions into account. Therefore, children do not feel heard. They feel ignored. Their self-esteem may struggle because the message they are getting is that they are not worthy of being heard.  

I am not saying that you must always follow your children’s opinions. Families are a hierarchy, where parents are in charge. But it is important that our children feel valued and heard.   

I am an authoritarian parent but would like to become more authoritative. What can I do? 

The good news is that we can change and improve the way we parent. It is not easy, but it can be done.  Here are some tips: 

  • Try to be more authoritative:  The more authoritative you can be, the better for your child. Authoritative parents are warm and responsive. They encourage trust and intimacy. They set high expectations and clear rules. They take into consideration their children’s opinions and feelings. In turn, children tend to do well across all aspects of life (5).  

  • Change your discipline style: Instead of yelling and using harsh punishments, try using logical consequences (6). These are consequences that directly address the behavior that the child should change or stop doing. For example, if your child leaves their bike in the middle of the driveway, the bike gets put away for an hour. If your child never puts their laundry in their basket, their clothes won’t be washed unless in the basket. This approach works much better than enforcing random, unrelated punishments.  

  • Be mindful of your emotions: Very often when we become angry with our children is because we have lost our temper. Understand what your triggers are, so you can control how you respond to your child. Feeling angry towards your child is not a problem. The problem may be what we do with that anger.  

  • Reflect on how you were raised: Were your parents very harsh with you? Did they use corporal punishment? Did you feel heard? Consider how it made you feel as a child and whether you want to raise your child in a similar environment, or whether you want to change. 

  • Rather than trying to change everything at the same time, focus on changing specific behaviours 

  • Seeking professional advice may be a good idea. At REC Parenting we have a team of parenting experts, ready to support you and your family. Get in touch here! It’s never too late to become the parent you want to be.  

However, be mindful that the term ‘authoritarian’ doesn’t mean the same across all cultures. 

Parenting is influenced by the culture we live in. Authoritarian parenting is more common in non-Western cultures, and in ethnic minorities living in Western countries.  

Why? Because some non-Wester countries are collectivistic. Collectivistic cultures consider that the group is more important than the individual. An authoritarian parenting style seems to work better to get children to conform to values such as conformity, self-control, and humility, which are very important in collectivistic countries.  

Parents in these cultures may use guilt, shame and scolding to discipline their children. But contrary to what happens in the Western world, these practices are not linked with negative outcomes for children (7).  


Authoritarian parenting is not the best for our children. If this is your style, don’t despair. It is never too late to become more authoritative. You can achieve it with the proper guidance, work, and persistence. At REC Parenting we are here to help you. 

And remember, the perfect parent does not exist. As parents we need to get it right more often than not.

I hope you have find this article helpful. As always, do get in touch if you have any questions or comments.

Much love,


Dr Ana Aznar


  1. Camisasca, E., Miragoli, S., Di Blasio, P., & Feinberg, M. (2022). Pathways among negative co-parenting, parenting stress, authoritarian parenting style, and child adjustment: The Emotional Dysregulation Driven Model. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 31(11), 3085–3096. 
  1. Carroll, P. (2021). Effectiveness of positive discipline parenting program on parenting style, and child adaptive behavior. Child Psychiatry & Human Development, 53(6), 1349–1358. 
  1. Smetana, J. G. (2017a). Current research on parenting styles, dimensions, and beliefs. Current Opinion in Psychology, 15, 19–25. 
  1. Smetana, J. G. (1994). Parenting styles and beliefs about Parental Authority. New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development, 1994(66), 21–36. 
  1. Lavrič, M., & Naterer, A. (2020). The power of authoritative parenting: A cross-national study of effects of exposure to different parenting styles on Life Satisfaction. Children and Youth Services Review, 116, 105274. 
  1. Robichaud, J.-M., Mageau, G. A., Soenens, B., Mabbe, E., Kil, H., Frenette, J., & Roy, M. (2024). Should parents combine reasoning with firm control to nurture adolescent socialization? comparing logical consequences with mild punishments. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science / Revue Canadienne Des Sciences Du Comportement. 
  1. Chao, R. K. (1994). Beyond Parental Control and authoritarian parenting style: Understanding Chinese parenting through the cultural notion of training. Child Development, 65(4), 1111–1119. 
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