Hello and welcome!

Our aim with this blog is to provide information for parents on some of the different parenting styles that can be employed when raising children. Our main approach in describing these styles will be from the perspective of operant– or, “instrumental”– learning:

Operant learning is a type of learning wherein an organism’s behaviors are either strengthened or weakened, depending on the consequences of the behavior. In terms of child-rearing, children learn what is acceptable to their parents, depending on the parents’ reactions in regards to these behaviours.  Each parenting style applies these consequences differently, and therefore typically yield different results.

Because not everyone will agree with all of the practices of the different styles, after reading and learning about them, it is up to you to decide what approach– or combination of approaches– might be best for you.

Also, feel free to check out our “Informational Sources and References” page (in the top-bar) for all of our educational references, and for more in-depth reading.

Authoritative Parenting

Authoritative parenting is an example of how the appropriate use of operant procedures can lead to beneficial outcomes.


Operant principles in authoritative parenting involves the  balanced use of power, reason, shaping, and reinforcement (Baumrind, 1966). The parent is viewed by the child as an effective reinforcing agent upon which behaviours are modified. The parent uses a “shaping” procedure—the child is  “corrected” for misconduct by parental feedback and is reinforced to behave in a more acceptable manner. Behaviours are easily modified because the child views the parent as a nurturing and fair.

Typical outcomes for children raised in an authoritative manner  include a good sense of social, emotional, and cognitive maturity (Grobman, 2008).

Permissive Parenting

From The Mother Company. (2012). Permissive Parenting [Photograph].

Permissive parenting is a lenient parenting style. Children are not given guidelines and are allowed to make their own decisions, regardless of their age and capabilities. Permissive parents take little control; they either spoil their child(ren) or pay no mind to them. The variability in reward/punishment for behaviour can be described as a low contingency from the perspective of operant learning. The lack of contingency could mean less learning occurs since the child is not aware of what is considered appropriate or inappropriate behaviour. The lack of punishment for misconduct may incidentally reinforce that view that all behaviours are proper. The child does not avoid any behaviours since he/she will rarely experience consequences. Permissive parents often will ignore misbehaviour and any punishments or rewards for behaviour are variable. This inconsistency can project on their children as children may develop a low level of persistence on tasks.

Authoritarian Parenting

Authoritarian Parenting

Authoritarian parenting is a style characterized by it’s high use of control over children, whether by simply restricting their behaviours, or by using more invasive psychological means –such as making children feel guilty– as a form of punishment.

Authoritarian parenting often creates a successful learning environment through its frequent and consistent use of punishment when children misbehave. Behavioural learning is rapid in these children and they follow orders well. Because of the high use of control, children raised with this style are prone to conforming and depend on their parents. Children of authoritarian parents constantly look to their parents for cues as to the consequences of their behaviors will be.

Parents have found success by adjusting the levels of punishment they implement depending on the situation, needs, and responding behaviors of the child.

Uninvolved Parenting

Uninvolved Parenting, also known as neglected or indifferent parenting, is where the parent does little more than provide basic needs, and in extreme cases, completely neglects the child’s needs. There is little emotional interaction, and nothing is demanded nor expected of the child.

Because there is no parent to tell them whether or not the child has done the right or wrong thing, in terms of operant conditioning, this can be described as both low contingency and contiguity. Behaviour does not predict an environmental consequence: there is no reinforcement nor punishment. These children have the most problems dealing with the world since they are not taught which behaviours are appropriate.