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The Effect of Parenting Styles on Social and Emotional Development in Adolescents

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Social and Emotional development is affected by the different parenting styles used between a parent and a child. The way that a parent interacts with their child will determine the way that the child is when they are older. There are three different parenting styles that have been defined, as to how a parent interacts with their children. According to Bandura’s social learning theory, the four parenting styles are Authoritarian, Authoritative, and Permissive. The theory suggests that children see, learn and model the behaviors that they witness on a day to day basis. These behaviors are gathered and interpreted based on how their parents have modeled, either indirectly or directly. An Authoritarian parenting style shows itself as a parent who is demanding but not responsive, an Authoritative parenting style is shown as a parent who is demanding and responsive, and lastly a permissive parenting style is shown as a parent who is not demanding but sometimes responsive. Research shows that Authoritative parenting has an even amount of demandingness and responsiveness, therefore creating a healthy social and emotional environment.


This paper focuses on the effect different parenting styles have on social and emotional development in adolescents. A parenting style refers to a set of parental practices that cause fairly stable and identifiable patterns of child adjustment. A model was made for parenting, in which parenting styles involve parental practices and both are affected by what a parent wishes to teach the child. The model defines parenting style as consisting of parental attitudes toward the child and the relationship between the parent and the child. It causes an emotional environment that makes parental practices in different domains take place. After being put together, the emotional and control dimensions this created were the three parenting styles, authoritative, authoritarian, and permissive.

Parenting styles reflect variations in the attitudes and practices of parents, and are comprised of discrete parenting behaviors, including disciplinary tactics (Givertz, 2015). Adolescents develop differently socially and emotionally depending on their parenting styles. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, social emotional development is a child’s ability to manage, act on, and show positive and negative emotions, develop relationships with those around them, and to seek out their surroundings to know more about it (Briggs, 2012). Parenting styles correlate directly with quality of socio-emotional development. There are plenty of factors like parenting styles and being able to understand emotions that play a role in keeping oneself healthy. Studying these terms in particular can allow a better understanding of the relationship they share, and why they occur. With this in mind, the aim of the paper is to focus on the effect the different parenting styles have on social and emotional development in adolescents.

Literature Review

This paper will use Bandura’s Social learning theory, because it suggests that children learn how to associate with people and resolve conflicts by watching their parents and interactions with them throughout their childhood. Bandura states that to adapt a new behavior a learner must observe what is being modeled to begin with, then create a mental picture of it in their mind, after they repeat what is being done while making note of how it’s being done, they then incorporate that learned behavior in their daily life as well (Crain, 2005). Baumrind (1971) identified three major parenting styles, that showed the different levels of parents showing responsiveness and what they demand of their children. The three levels and parenting styles were named authoritative, authoritarian, and permissive.

Authoritative parents are both demanding and responsive. Authoritarian parents are highly demanding, but not responsive. Permissive parents are more responsive than demanding. In order for a child to be able to learn to adapt to a new behavior they must see it modeled by those who influence them most which in most cases are the parents who raise them. Depending on the parenting style that the child has will determine how the child acts later in life and how they develop because they are simply modeling the characteristics and actions that they observed in their childhood. If there is a parent who is demanding but responsive, there is an equilibrium for the child, if the parent lacks one then that means the child will not get responses from the parents leading to emotional development being compromised.

Just as Bandura’s Social Learning Theory states, if a child sees the parent act with a certain parenting style they will see the modeled behaviors and follow suit with their behaviors when they get older. If a child is raised in a household where a parent is Authoritarian they will see the behavior of the being highly demanding but not responsive, and the other parenting styles follow suit with the pattern of behaviors.

Authoritarian Parenting Style: Effects on Social and Emotional Development

One example of a socio-emotional developmental issue that is caused by parenting styles, is career unreadiness. A student being unprepared to choose a career path is due to the anxiety the adolescent feels stemming from the parenting style they were raised with.

The study found 229 undergraduates from two universities and applied a structural equation model, that was used to clarify the relation between career unreadiness, authoritarian parenting and anxiety. This took place in Hong Kong, China. A university is a place whose sole purpose is to teach those incoming qualifiers for the careers they can be eligible to receive after attending their institution. This is done by giving them the necessary tools to learn how to properly attend to the duties of their prospective career. Authoritarian parenting still kept a negative effect on anxiety, after the model stayed equal for career unreadiness. The results imply that decreasing the student/adolescents unreadiness is a clear way to prevent or lessen the anxiety they feel, which stems from the demands of the authoritarian parenting style and lean more towards the authoritative parenting style.

Anxiety is defined as a feeling of being inadequate to meet goals in life. Authoritarian parenting is when a parent has control of the child and demands many things without showing any emotions. Authoritarian parenting refers to parents’ domination, control, regulation, and overestimation in a strict and unreasonable manner (Buri, 1991), and is said to be the cause of the bond the child and parent share to be weakened.

Socially withdrawn children were assumed to be more prone to parental influences than others. A study examined the effects of socioemotional development of children when factoring in parenting styles and social withdrawal. For this research, teachers were asked to rate the children based on their social skills, while mothers and fathers were asked to fill out surveys that measured the amount of affection and control they instilled in their children. They found that socially withdrawn children were vulnerable to negative effects of parental affection.

Authoritative Parenting Style: Effects on Social and Emotional Development

The positiveness in the social-emotional development of children has gotten an extensive amount of attention and research in western cultures, but the fact is not turn for nonwestern cultures. Using data collected from 228 Chinese parents of second grade children, this study first examined the psychometric properties of the Child Routines Inventory. The instrument showed sound construct validity along with reliability. They then examined whether child routines related to the relationships between parenting practices and children’s social skills and behavioral problems using a model.

The results showed that child routines fully connected the relations between authoritative parenting and social-emotional functioning in children. The children with parents who coincided with the style of authoritative parenting were found to have more consistent routines. These children later showed better social skills and fewer behavioral problems. The results showed that child routines play a critical role in the social-emotional development of Chinese children, suggesting the need to include child routines in prevention and intervention programs aimed at enhancing social-emotional outcomes in Chinese children.

Consistent routines on a day to day basis were associated with better social skills in children. Also, consistent routines were related to fewer child behavioral problems. Authoritarian parenting was positively associated with child behavioral problems. Routines mediated the role of authoritative parenting in child social outcomes.

The purpose of this study was to examine parenting style in the domain of emotion socialization through studying the relationships among parenting styles, emotion-related parental practices, and parental goals of Hong Kong–Chinese mothers. Data was collected from 189 Hong Kong–Chinese mothers of 6 to 8-year-old children. Hong Kong–Chinese mothers reported that among authoritarian, authoritative, and permissive parenting styles, they most common parenting style used is the authoritative whereas the least style used is authoritarian. They valued both relational and individualistic emotional competence of their children as parental goals but emphasized the relational emotional competence the most. Structural equation modeling results show that parental goals mediated the influence of parenting styles on parental practices.

Authoritative mothers who held individualistic emotional competence goals adopted different parental practices from those who held relational emotional competence goals. When mothers adopted authoritarian parenting and endorsed relational emotional competence as a parental goal, they responded to children’s expression of emotions in a dismissing way. Parenting styles play an overarching role in emotional socialization, influencing both parental practices and goals. The results imply that school personnel, counselors, or social workers should take into account parenting styles, parental goals, and cultural values of participants when they offer training programs to parents.

The authoritarian parenting was found to be positively related to aggression-disruptive behavior but negatively related to peer acceptance and sociability-competence of second graders. In contrast, an authoritative parenting style was associated with positive socioemotional outcomes such as peer acceptance and social competence. However, in other research, child inhibition was associated positively with maternal warmth and acceptance and negatively with mothers’ rejection and punishment orientation in a Chinese sample, but the results were reversed in a Canadian sample. One possibility for these results could lie in cultural differences in parental goals and practices in the domain of emotion socialization.

Understanding emotion socialization is important for a range of reasons, including the relationship between emotional competence and psychological health and issues of social competence in childhood and adulthood (Garner & Estep, 2001; Gross & Levenson, 1997). The methods parents use to teach children about emotions are important for the development of emotional competence. To date, most research has been confined to the study of emotional socialization in Western societies (e.g., Michelin et al., 2007; Smith et al. 2006; Spinrad et al., 2007).

Permissive Parenting Style: Effects on Social and Emotional Development

The study looked at two measures of sympathetic nervous system (SNS) activity as arbitrators of permissive parenting to separate peer affiliations and delinquency among a community sample of adolescents. Participants were 252 adolescents (M = 15.79 years; 53 % boys; 66 % European American, 34 % African American). Two indicators of SNS reactivity, skin conductance level reactivity (SCLR) and cardiac pre-ejection period reactivity (PEPR) were examined. SNS activity was measured during a baseline period and a problem-solving task (star-tracing); reactivity was computed as the difference between the task and baseline periods. Adolescents reported on permissive parenting, deviant peer affiliations, externalizing behaviors, and substance use (alcohol, marijuana). Analyses revealed indirect effects between permissive parenting and delinquency via affiliation with deviant peers. Additionally, links between permissive parenting to affiliation with deviant peers and affiliation with deviant peers to delinquency was moderated by SNS reactivity. Low SNS reactivity (less PEPR and/or less SCLR) is a risk factor for externalizing problems and alcohol abuse. Findings highlight the role of SNS reactivity in parenting and peer pathways that may contribute to adolescent delinquency and point to possible interventions for at-risk youth.

Families participated in four waves of a longitudinal study from childhood to adolescence that examined relations between family functioning and youth development. Data for the current study comes from the fourth wave (data collected in 2012–2013). Participants were recruited from elementary schools in the Southeastern United States at the first wave of data collection in 2005. Eligibility criteria required parents to have been living together for at least 2 years, and exclusion criteria included a diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, developmental delays or a chronic illness.

At Time 1 (T1), 251 school-aged children participated, and approximately 79 % of these children participated at T4. At the current wave (T4), participants included 199 adolescents who participated in prior waves (93 boys, 106 girls; 64 % European American and 36 % African American; M age = 15.78 years, SD = 0.82). Additionally, due to a 5-year lag between the third and fourth waves of data collection and loss of participants (e.g., unable to contact families, families relocating), an additional 53 families were recruited from the same school systems as the original sample to participate in the fourth wave. These participants (25 boys, 28 girls; 74 % European American, 26 % African American; M age = 15.83 years, SD = 0.78) were matched to the original sample’s demographics and the same inclusion/exclusion criteria were applied. No differences on demographics or primary study variables were found between participants who were recruited at T1 compared to T4. Thus, the final analytic sample was composed of 252 adolescents (118 boys, 134 girls; 66 % European American, 34 % African American; M age = 15.79 years, SD = 0.81).

Data for the current study comes from a larger, longitudinal investigation and only pertinent procedures are presented. This study was approved by the university’s institutional review board. Consent and assent for participation were obtained from parents and adolescents, respectively. Parents and adolescents visited the university laboratory where adolescents’ physiological responses (i.e., SCL and PEP) were measured during a 3 min resting condition (baseline assessment), during which adolescents were asked to sit quietly. This was followed by a 3 min stress task: star-tracing task in which participants were asked to trace the outline of a star using only the reflection of the star through a mirror as a guide. During the laboratory visit, adolescents and parents also completed questionnaires in separate rooms for confidentiality.

Permissive parenting may create contexts that put adolescents at risk for delinquent behaviors and substance use, either directly or indirectly through increased opportunities to associate with deviant peers. In the current study, we investigated individual differences in autonomic regulation that may moderate pathways among permissive parenting, deviant peer affiliation, and delinquent behavior. A few studies have documented the role of low RHR and less SNS reactivity (SCLR or PEPR) in affiliation with deviant peers, sensation-seeking, and delinquency. Further, others have found less SNS reactivity indexed through SCLR to be a risk factor exacerbating relations between parenting or peer relations and delinquency. Thus, accumulating evidence is showing that low SNS reactivity generally is associated with, or is a moderator of, relations among family and peer relationships and delinquency and substance use in adolescence. However, no published studies have simultaneously evaluated the conditional effects of autonomic indices of BI and BA on the indirect path from parenting behaviors to deviant peer affiliation to delinquency.

Conclusions, Implications, and Future Research

The undergraduate’s career unreadiness tends to be an instance of emerging adulthood during which the undergraduate postpones or prolongs their career development. This is why career counseling is a prominent service for those pursuing their undergraduate education (Gati, Houminer, & Fassa, 1997). Crucially, the undergraduate can be unready for the career, even though he or she achieves romantic and family support. Career unreadiness, is seen as problematic because of its provocation of anxiety, in the view of behavioral inhibition theory.

Although there is some literature in regard to parenting style, additional replications would allow for improved ways of parenting. Intersectionality within the research participants would allow for a clearer understanding of the effects of each parenting style. Additionally, further research will allow, psychologists, educators and parents alike to help children develop in the most positive way possible.


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