Permissive Parenting

Permissive Parenting

Permissive Parenting Definition

Permissive parenting, also known as indulgent parenting, is a parenting style characterized by high responsiveness and low demandingness. Permissive parents are very responsive to the child’s emotional needs. But they don’t set limits or are very inconsistent in enforcing boundaries.

Permissive Parenting Examples

Here are the characteristics of permissive parenting.

  • Responsive
    Permissive parents are responsive to their children’s needs.
  • Indulgent parenting
    Permissive indulgent parents rarely say no to their children’s demands. They may also use toys or food as bribe to get their children to behave.
  • Lenient parents
    Permissive parents are lenient and overly lax. They dislike control and authority over their children. They do not monitor or guide their children’s behavior. They have very few rules and standards of behavior. When there are rules, they are not consistently enforced.
  • Treat their kids more like peers or friends than children
    Permissive parents want their children to see them as friends rather than authority figures.
  • Children’s freedom over responsibility
    Permissive parents place very little responsibility, such as chores or homework, on their children.
  • Let children make major decisions generally reserved for adult guardians without guidance.

Effects Of Permissive Parenting

Child development experts recognize that permissive parenting is one of the worst parenting styles among the four Baumrind parenting styles.

Permissive parents generally do not monitor or regulate their children. As a result, studies have found that children of permissive parents tend to struggle with self-control, which leads to a variety of bad outcomes.

  • Worse academic performance
    Lax parents do not monitor their children’s studying habits. So their children have less self-discipline. Permissive parents also do not demand their children to perform or set a goal for their children to strive for. Studies show that children of permissive parents tend to have lower academic achievement.
  • More impulsive and aggressive
    Permissive parents do not control or regulate their children’s behavior. So their children are less aware of the limits of acceptable behavior. They also exhibit worse impulse control and have more behavioral problems. When facing stressful situations, they are more likely to resort to using aggression.
  • More prone to delinquency, substance abuse and alcohol abuse
    Studies have found that children of permissive parents are more likely to be associated with crimes, substance abuse and alcohol-related issues because they have worse impulse control.
  • Less self-regulating
    Emotional regulation is not something we are born with. It is a learned skill. Because children of permissive parents are left to regulate their own activities, behavior and emotions at a young age, they tend to have more difficulties self-regulating.
  • Worse social skills
    Studies have found that children raised by permissive disengaged parents tend to have less empathy leading to worse social skills. They generally display more anti-social behavior.
  • More likely to be overweight
    Permissive parents do not regulate their children’s eating. These children are twice as likely to be overweight compared to children raised by authoritative parents.

Are You A Permissive Parent?

If you fit some of the descriptions in the Permissive Parenting Examples above, you may be a permissive parent.

Or you may not.

The devil is in the details.

Authoritative parents are often accused of being permissive by authoritarian parents.

Even though both permissive and authoritative parents are responsive to their kids’ needs, there are subtle differences between the two parenting styles.

Permissive Parenting Authoritative Parenting
Always say yes to their children’s demands Say yes to their children’s demands when they are reasonable
Dislike control over their children. They do not monitor or guide their children’s behavior. Dislike control over their children, but they monitor and guide their children’s behavior
Have very few rules and standards of behavior. When there are rules, they are not consistently enforced. Have some rules and standards of behavior. They are consistently enforced.
Let children make major decisions generally reserved for adult guardians without guidance. Let children participate in making major decisions with guidance.
Place very little responsibility on their children Place sensible amount of responsibility on their children

What To Do If You Are A Permissive Parent

Permissive parenting can lead to a number of bad outcomes in kids.

Here are some strategies you can use to turn things around.

  1. Announce it
    Let your kids (and spouse / co-parent) know that you will adopt an authoritative parenting style from now on. Assure them that you will still be warm and responsive to their needs like before, but now there are rules and limits you will enforce.
  2. Involve children in making rules
    Hold a family meeting to discuss what rules are needed. Ask their opinions and discuss the pros and cons. But you have the final say.
  3. Decide consequences for breaking rules
    There needs to be clear and reasonable consequences for breaking the rules. Remember to use natural consequence to discipline (not to punish).
  4. Follow through
    This is the area many permissive parents lapse when they try to dislodge their permissive habits. If you are used to being the “nice” parent, it can be a struggle not only for your kids, but also for you.

    That is another reason why using natural consequence is so important. You don’t need to to be unkind or be the “bad” guy. You are simply teaching your kids new behavior by letting them experience the natural consequence. The goal is to teach, not to punish.

    Remember, being consistent is one of the most crucial aspect of authoritative parenting allowing for the best outcomes in your children’s upbringing.

The Opposite Of Permissive Parenting

Some parents who fear the outcomes of permissive parenting want to do everything to avoid it.

However, do not overcompensate.

Because permissive parenting is responsive and not demanding, some parents believe that the exact opposite, i.e. not responsive and highly demanding, is good.

It is not.

Because when this happens, you have become an authoritarian parent, which can lead to a similar set of bad outcomes in children.


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