Anna Baker M.A., OTR/L BCP SIPT

LKS & Associates, Occupational Therapist

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On any evening in a community, it’s possible to observe all kinds of caregiver styles.  Parents loosely grouped in a garage having a conversation while kids play with toys in the yard, caregivers playing catch or basketball with their kids at a local park, parents and children bike riding together, or parents running with a child in a jogging stroller.  Each of these parents or caregivers may use different styles of interaction with a child that can lead to positive outcomes, including healthy lifestyle choices, future academic success, and future career success

Parenting styles generally fall into four main categories.  These categories include: “Indulgent,” “Authoritarian,” “Authoritative,” and “Uninvolved” ². These styles are based on how a parent reacts to a situation using support or guidance, or a combination of both.  Examples of support may be “…showing involvement, acceptance, emotional availability, warmth, and responsivity”.  Examples of guidance may be shown through “…enforcing demands and rules, disciplinary strategies, control of rewards and punishment, or through supervisory functions” ³.   Let’s look at how these parenting styles may present in the home with a child completing an art project. 

Indulgent Parenting Style

The indulgent parenting style is sometimes referred to as “permissive” and may include providing warm responses in child interactions but low expectations for a child’s overall behaviors 4.  Indulgent parents may provide their children with hugs and kisses after an art project but may not be focused on the child performing specific activities such as sharing materials with siblings, practicing academic skills like copying shapes, finishing the art project, or cleaning up after the art project. An indulgent parenting style may give the child warmth and caring but without specific guidance new skills may not be learned.  Without guidance, a child may not be showing self-regulation to complete a task, may not have the opportunity of practicing academic skills in a new way, or practice showing sharing of materials with a sibling.  This type of parenting style may affect a child’s self-control, self-esteem, and peer interactions 5.

Uninvolved Parenting Style

The uninvolved parenting style may not use any guidance or any responsiveness when interacting with the child and may sometimes be referred to as “neglectful.”6  Uninvolved parents may be on their phone checking out Facebook while the child is left to interact with whatever materials are already available.  In this case, there may not even be an art project as the child may not be given access to any art materials by the parent.  Even if the child found crayons and paper to make a drawing, a parent may not praise or give any feedback on the drawing. According to Kuppens (2018), “Children of neglectful parents have shown the least favorable outcomes on multiple domains, such as lacking self-regulation and social responsibility, poor self-reliance and social competence, poor school competence, antisocial behavior and delinquency, anxiety, depression and somatic complaints”. This means that without any guidance and without any responses, children may experience significant effects on academic and social skills. 

Authoritarian Parenting Style

The authoritarian parent may have high expectations for behavior but show low responsiveness to the child7Authoritarian parents may provide their children with little to no acknowledgment after an art project but, throughout the project, may demand the use of specific materials (i.e., “you can only use crayons”), particular methods to complete (i.e., “you need to practice making the squares with right corners”), and projected outcomes (i.e., “you have to do this before you can use the iPad”).  This particular parenting style provides highly specific feedback on tasks but may not provide for choices in a task that lead to the development of creativity.  An authoritarian parenting style may also be so focused on the specific task outcome that the child does not experience joy in the process.  An authoritarian parent style may be associated with academic difficulties and “depressive symptoms.”8  This means that children with authoritarian parenting styles can show problems with self-regulation and academic achievement. 

Authoritative Parenting Style

The difference of a few letters of the word for the parenting style can make a world of difference to the child.  Though the authoritarian and authoritative parenting styles have some similar aspects, the difference is the level of responsiveness.  Authoritative parents may provide specific rules for a task but the responsiveness of the parent throughout the task is what makes the difference.  An authoritative parent may encourage the child to share art materials with a sibling, use time to assist the child to practice shapes in a drawing of the child’s choosing, and remind the child to clean up after the art project.  After the clean-up, an authoritative parent may provide the child with a hug and a kiss before allowing iPad time for doing an art activity well.  An authoritative parenting style provides the child with opportunities to develop more consistent emotional reactions to the demands of a task and to practice coping skills when something is difficult to do.  It provides a blend of structure and warmth to support the child throughout the activity.  The authoritative parent also uses knowledge of the child’s performance in previous situations to know when the child is capable of acting independently to obtain opportunities for creative problem-solving. This parenting style is generally associated with “positive developmental outcomes (e.g., emotional stability, adaptive coping patterns, life satisfaction)9.  This particular parenting style may contribute to increased academic and personal success.

Why Does Parenting Style Matter?

The big buzzword in parenting styles has focused on the “helicopter parent”, which is a style that encompasses high control in conjunction with ”overprotection” 10.  A recent systematic review of research by Vigdal et al. (2022) investigated outcomes from helicopter parenting. The results may suggest that this parenting style could contribute to negative mental health outcomes such as anxiety or depression in the child. The helicopter parenting style may communicate to children that “ …they are incapable of overcoming their struggles and in need of constant protection from the dangers of the world”11.

Parenting styles can also affect healthy eating patterns in children12.  Lopez et al. (2018) note that “authoritative parenting style is linked to a healthier weight and dietary outcomes in children, and authoritarian and permissive parenting styles with unhealthy eating.”  These outcomes can relate to obesity, weight-related health problems, picky eating, and food refusals. 

The level of control in parenting styles may also be linked to future leadership skills. According to Liu et al (2019), “overparenting is negatively related to adolescent leader emergence as indicated by parent ratings, teacher ratings, and peer nominations in addition to leader role occupancy.”  In this study, teachers and peers rated teenagers who had experienced overparenting as less likely to show confidence in their ability to complete a task and direct others to support a task outcome. 

Parenting style may also affect the outcomes of therapy services to address a child’s area of concern.  A typical part of therapeutic programming is the carryover of techniques from the therapy sessions to the home environment so a child can experience success.  

You can find out more about how to blend guidance, responsiveness, and parenting styles by checking out the books or websites below, as well as by contacting the LKS office at 310-739-9337 or by email at  

Books (in alphabetical order):

“No Drama Discipline” by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson

“Parenting from the Inside Out:  How a Deeper Self-Understanding Can Help You Raise Children Who Thrive” by Daniel J. Siegel and Mary Hartzell

“Parenting with Love & Logic: Teaching Children Responsibility” by Foster Cline & Jim Fay

“Positive Discipline: The Classic Guide to Helping Children Develop Self-Discipline, Responsibility, Cooperation, and Problem Solving Skills” by Jane Nelsen

“Scaffold Parenting: Raising Resilient, Self-Reliant, and Secure Kids in an Age of Anxiety” by Harold S. Koplewicz

“The Collapse of Parenting: How We Hurt Our Kids When We Treat Them Like Grown-Ups” by Leonard Sax

“The Gardener and the Carpenter” by Alison Gopnik

“The Whole-Brain Child” written by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson



1 See references for Darling (1999), Haden (n.d.), Kuppens et al (2019), Lopez el al (2018), Thomas (2013), Zahedani et. al (2016), & Zeltser (2021). 

2 Darling, N. (1999)

3 Kuppens, E. et al.. (2018)

4 Darling, N. (1999)

5  Power, T.G., (2013)

6 Darling, N. (1999)

7 Darling, N. (1999)

8 Power, T.G., (2013)

9 Power, T.G. (2013)

10 Vigdal et al (2022)

11 Vigdal et al (2022)

12 Lopez et al (2018)

Darling, N. (1999). Parenting Style and Its Correlates. ERIC Digest. (ED427896). ERIC.

Haden, J. (n.d) Want to raise successful kids? science uncovers the parenting style that creates better leaders: The process starts with establishing different intentions–for yourself. Retrieved 7/18/22:

Kuppens, S. & Ceulemans, E. (2019). Parenting styles: A closer look at a well known concept.  Journal of Child and Family Studies 28:168–181

Liu, Z., Riggio, R. E., Day, D. V., Zheng, C., Dai, S., & Bian, Y. (2019). Leader development begins at home: Overparenting harms adolescent leader emergence. Journal of Applied Psychology, 104(10), 1226–1242.

Lopez, N.V., Schembre, S., Belcher, B., O’Conner, S., Maher, J., Arbel, R., Margolin, G., Dunton, G.F. (2018).  Parenting styles, food-related parenting practices, and children’s healthy eating: A mediation analysis to examine relationships between parenting and child diet. Appetite. 128: 205–213. doi:10.1016/j.appet.2018.06.021

Power, T.G. (2013). Parenting dimensions and styles: A brief history and recommendations for future research. Childhood Obesity 9(1): S14-S21. DOI: 10.1089/chi.2013.0034

Shierk, A., Jiménez-Moreno, Roberts, H., Ackerman-Laufer, S., Backer, G., Bard-Pondarre, R., Cekmece, C., Pyranowska, W., Villain, C., Delgado, M.R. Development of a pediatric goal-centered upper limb spasticity home exercise therapy program for use in a phase-III trial of abobotulinumtoxina (DysportⓇ). Physical & Occupational Therapy in Pediatrics 2019;39(2):124-135. doi: 10.1080/01942638.2018.1486346

Vigdal, J.S., Brønnick K.K. (2022). A systematic review of “Helicopter Parenting” and its relationship with anxiety and depression.  Frontiers in Psychology (13). doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2022.872981

Zahedani, Z., Rezaee, R., Yazdani, Z, Bagheri, S., & Nabeiei, P. (2016). The influence of parenting style on academic achievement and career path.  Journal of Advances in Medical Education & Professionalism 4(3): p 130-134. Childhood Obseity 9(1): S14-S21. DOI: 10.1089/chi.2013.0034

Zeltser, F. (2021). Here’s what makes ‘authoritative parents’ different from the rest—and why psychologists say it’s the best parenting style.  Retrieved 7/18/22 from: