How ‘Negative’ Parenting Styles Can Affect Your Child


Parenting styles can have a lasting impact on kids, even into adulthood. Here’s how to recognize the signs.

Without a doubt, parenting is one of the hardest jobs out there. It can be rewarding, frustrating, exciting, and challenging all at the same time.

As a parent, you might question yourself daily about whether you’re making the right decisions if your kids will be OK, and what you could have done differently.

Parenting can be uncharted territory. You may try to emulate your upbringing and apply it to how you raise your children.

Teaching your kids the values and beliefs you learned might be important to you, but it can be hard to find a parenting style that also embraces the ways the world has changed since your childhood.

Everyone parents differently, and most parents tend to experiment with different parenting styles. Some parents may be lax and lenient whereas others might be strict or overprotective. One family might value freedom of expression, while another focuses on creating a structure with rules.

But it’s important to understand how negative parenting styles can cause harm to the emotional, social, and physical well-being of your child.

What is ‘negative’ parenting?

Negative parenting is a culmination of neglectful or harmful actions and behaviors that can impact a child’s development and mental well-being, sometimes into adulthood.

While some actions might be purposeful, parents often do not realize their actions — or lack thereof — can have a lasting effect on their child.

Negative parenting can include:

  • harmful words and emotions directed at a child
  • repeated criticism without guidance or recognition of accomplishments
  • a lack of respect and trust
  • incessant reprimands
  • lack of praise
  • using comparisons to shame or degrade a child

Negative parenting styles

Overall, there are four main types of parenting styles. Three can be considered neglectful and potentially detrimental to child development.

Authoritarian parenting

Authoritarian parenting is often characterized by:

  • strict enforcement of rules
  • emotional unavailability
  • one-way communication
  • demanding unrealistic expectations
  • low sensitivity to the child’s feelings

This parenting style is often equated with “tough love” and phrases like, “I told you so.” Many expertsTrusted Source consider authoritarian parenting to be a negative parenting style.

Permissive parenting

Permissive parenting is also considered a negative parenting style by experts and often involves parents who:

  • are openly communicative but low in responsiveness
  • lack of consistency and follow-through with rules and expectations
  • teach minimal direction and guidance
  • avoid conflict at all costs
  • give in to their child’s demands

Neglectful parenting

A neglectful parenting style is often characterized by parents who:

  • are neglectful, emotionally unavailable, or unresponsive
  • do not provide guidance or nurturance
  • let kids “fend for themselves,” often causing them to grow up too soon or miss out on childhood
  • are unaware of important details in their kids’ lives, such as who their teachers and friends are

Experts agree that neglectful parenting is a negative parenting style. Children raised with this parenting style might have difficulty with certain issues well into adulthood, like:

  • low self-esteem
  • forming and maintaining relationships
  • understanding safety

Signs of negative parenting

It’s common for parents to second-guess your parenting decisions.

If you’re questioning whether you might be engaging in a negative parenting style, here are some signs to watch out for.