Permissive parenting is a term coined by Diana Baumrind, a developmental psychologist. Baumrind coined the phrase as one of three major parenting styles. Permissive parents have good intentions; they love their children and tend to be more nurturing than controlling. On the flip side of the coin, permissive parents tend to establish few behavioral rules, follow lax discipline and may attempt to bribe children with physical objects and gifts to curb improper behavior.
Characteristics of Permissive Parenting
Rules and set expectations for behavior tend to be lax in permissive parents. Parents tend to allow children more freedom, including the freedom to misbehave. Misbehaviors may be addressed with gifts or attempts to buy good behavior rather than disciplinary action. Even if disciplinary rules are in place, permissive parents have difficulty sticking with punishments or discipline as rules tend to sway and remain inconsistent.
Effects of Permissive Parenting on Child Development and Actions
Permissive parents believe they are doing the best for their children in setting few boundaries and limitations. Often, parents feel such boundaries do not allow children to act like children. In the short-term, permissive parenting may create issues with child behavior, increasing the likelihood of temper tantrums and explosive behavior. Children tend to lack self-discipline, so behavioral issues may present at school leading to reprimand and interruption in the educational process. Social skills may also be impaired as demanding and self-involved actions lead to negative interactions with classmates and peers. As children grow older, permissive parenting may lead to feelings of insecurity and worsening behavioral issues.
Long-term side effects of permissive parenting may lead children to experiment with risky social behaviors like unprotected sex and experimentation with drugs and/or alcohol. Children may be more apt to drop out of school as behavioral reprimands increase in severity and frequency. These risk-taking behaviors can last well into adulthood.
Counteracting the Negative Side Effects of Permissive Parenting
Permissive parents can change the parenting path. It is much easier to make changes when children are young, but changes can be made at any time to establish clear and consistent rules with solid disciplinary actions in place if rules are broken. Setting clear expectations and guiding children along the path of mature behavior can help counteract the negative repercussions of permissive parenting. Parents may find psychological therapy or counseling helpful, especially in older children. Permissive parenting is associated with negative child-hood, teen and adult behaviors, but that does not mean all children of permissive parents will develop the same negative behavioral and emotional issues.