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What matters is that you care for your child and try to give them the best start in life. The type of parent you are can affect your child’s well-being, how they develop and how they learn. It can also affect your relationship with your child.

Although raising children is often filled with joy and very rewarding, for most of us, being a parent isn’t easy. Sometimes it’s a lot more difficult than we had thought it would be. We might not think too much about our behaviour towards our child or how we respond to their behaviour. We often follow what we have learnt from our own parents or get ideas from friends. Some parents get ideas from books or from the people they see like health visitors.

You can choose what you want to bring from your own childhood, or from other people in your life, and what you want to leave out.

Parenting styles

Since the 1960s, psychologists have described four different parenting styles and linked them with what they noticed about the way the young children of those parents behaved. The parenting style led to differences in children’s behaviour. We all fit somewhere on the scale.

  • Positive or Authoritative parents:
    • are kind and loving;
    • have clear simple rules and explain why they want their children to follow them – “if you throw your toy it might break or hurt someone”;
    • try to catch their children being good and praising them;
    • give their child some choices that are right for their age – “do you want to wear your red top or your blue top?”;
    • are a good role model; and
    • take time to listen, talk and enjoy time with their child.

      Your child may:
    • have higher academic performance
    • more self esteem
    • better social skills
  • Authoritarian parents:
    • have lots of strict rules;
    • don't explain why they want their children to do things. They are more likely to say “because I said so”;
    • tend to focus on bad behaviour, rather than good behaviour; and
    • use harsh consequences for not following the rules.

      Your child may have:
    • lower academic performance
    • lower self esteem
    • poor social skills   
  • Permissive (very laid back) parents:
    • are kind and loving;
    • have few, if any, rules;
    • give in to their child’s winning and nagging because they want a quiet life and don’t want to upset their child; and
    • do everything for their child without giving their child a chance to try.

      Your child may:
    • Show impulsive behaviour
    • Be self-centred
    • Have poor social skills
  • Uninvolved or Neglectful/Disengaged parents:
    • emotionally detached
    • where they might be in the same room as their child, but  not really there
    • have a very busy job and find it difficult to ‘switch off’
    • the concept of multi-tasking may result in a disconnect between them and their child

      Your child may:
    • show impulsive behaviour
    • have lower academic performance
    • have poor social skills

Parents may use a mixture of these parenting types. But often use one type more than another. You can see that the positive or authoritative style has better outcomes for children. If parents are under stress they may be strict for a while. Or they might not have any energy and let things go for a while. Most parents maintain a balance between being “too strict” or “too soft” every day. Having a warm and responsive relationship with your child with clear consistent boundaries and expectations will help them grow up and feel better about themselves, make friendships and be ready to learn.

Nobody has all the answers and there is no such thing as a perfect parent.

It’s OK to ask for help

 There are services and organisations which can give you support and advice. You may find these helplines useful:

  • C.A.L.L. Helpline on 0800 132 737 (24 hour service) - Community Advice and Listening Line - (or text ‘help’ to text 81066). This is a confidential helpline which offers emotional support on mental health and related matters.
  • Samaritans on 116 123 (confidential 24 hour service). You can get in touch about anything that’s troubling you, no matter how large or small the issue.

Look after yourself

Meeting up with other parents may help remind you that you're not alone. Your Family Information Service will be able to tell you what’s on in your area.

If you want to learn more about positive parenting, find out what parenting support and groups your Local Authority offer.

Family Lives offer a confidential and free helpline service for families in Wales on any aspect of parenting and family life. To speak to someone call 0808 800 2222 or visit Parenting and Family Support – Family Lives to access the live chat. 

Parent Talk Cymru (Action for Children) offer a free and confidential live chat with a parenting coach available in English and Welsh. Visit Parent Talk Cymru