Authoritarian Parenting

The impacts parenting styles have on child development has always been an area of interest for developmental psychologists. However, as it has been noted in some quarters, it remains difficult to bring out actual cause-and-effect kind of relationship between parenting styles and a child’s development. In this text, I describe the Authoritarian parenting style and the effects it could have on Sarah in terms of development and behavior.

Authoritarian parenting style

According to Santrock (2002), the authoritarian parenting style is characterized by the expectation that children adhere to the rules set by their parents where failure to adhere to the same brings about sanctions and reprimands from the parents. One of the most significant differences between the authoritarian parenting styles and the other parenting styles lies in the input children have over the rulemaking and implementation process. Here, parents do not take time to consult the children as far as the rule making process is concerned and they hence expect all their orders to be explained without queries.

According to Shaffer & Kipp (2010), authoritarian parents tend to be least responsive to the needs of their children and the absence of any constructive dialogue between them and their children ends up stirring up feelings of resentment amongst the children. It hence follows that reprimands are the order of the day and unlike indulgent parenting, instances of leniency are very limited.

Hence in that regard, authoritarian parenting can be said to be the direct opposite of indulgent parenting.When it comes to the impact of parenting styles on children and the characteristics they are likely to display, Siegler & Eisenberg (2006) are of the opinion that research over time has concluded that parenting styles impact in one way or the other on a child’s development outcome.

For instance, in the scenario presented of Sarah, the authoritarian parenting her parens have subjected her to could enhance her obedience tendencies but when it comes to self esteem, social competence as well as happiness, she could end up ranking lower. The lack of competence on the social front could be as a result of psychological pressures the child is subjected to as he or she grows up due to the unwillingness of the parents to discuss issues with the child.

Sarah could also have problems expressing herself. This is because as she grows up, all the avenues which may ease the communication with her parents are blocked and in that regard, her ability to express herself later in life either to her spouse or otherwise could greatly be hampered.

According to Smith, Cowie & Blades (2003), children raised by authoritarian parents could exhibit an inherent inability to think for themselves. The reasoning here is that as they grow up, questioning decisions made by a higher authority i.e. the parents is unheard of. In the case of Sarah therefore, her ability to think for herself could end up being compromised significantly. This hence raises the probability of her being misused by her superiors.


In conclusion, it is important to note that though the authoritarian parenting approach has its advantages as far as the discipline of children is concerned, it ends up having a relatively negative developmental effect on individuals. This is probably the reason why it is regarded to be punitive in some quarters.


Santrock, J. (2002). Lifespan Development (International Edition). McGraw Hill: London

Shaffer, D. & Kipp, K. (2010). Developmental Psychology. Childhood and Adolescence, 8th edition. Wadsworth: Belmount (chapter 15).

Siegler, R., Deloache, J. & Eisenberg, N. (2006) How children develop 2nd edition. Worth Publishers: London (chapter 12)

Smith, P. K. & Cowie, H, & Blades, M. (2003). Understanding Children’s Development. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. (Chapter 4)