Permissive Parenting: Its Characteristics And Effect On Children

Permissive Parenting

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Daniel’s parents were highly affectionate to him. He was allowed to sleep late and wake up whenever he wanted. He was allowed to play loud music even if it disturbed the neighbors. He had his way almost all the time.

You might wonder if there is any parenting involved at all. Let’s tell you that there, indeed, is one involved and the style is called permissive parenting.

Here, MomJunction tells you about permissive parenting, the traits of permissive parents and their children, and the good and bad of this style.

What Is Permissive Parenting?

Permissive parenting, otherwise known as ‘indulgent parenting’ or ‘lenient parenting,’ is one of the parenting styles identified by Diana Baumrind (1).

Permissive parents are highly responsive towards their children’s needs and nurture their talents and personality. But they are least demanding because they have low expectations on discipline and self-regulation from their children.

You can understand the concept better with a few examples.

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[ Read: Effects Of Uninvolved Parenting ]

Examples Of Permissive Parenting

Here is how a permissive parent reacts to various typical scenarios:

Example #1: You are at the grocery store, your son asks you for ice cream, despite already having two during the day. You don’t want to upset your child, so you say, “Fine, you’ve been good today, so I’ll buy you one.”

Example #2: You don’t specify timings for play, study, or sleep. Even when you know your child has to wake up early the next day for school, you don’t remind her to sleep early.

Example #3: You have been saving up to buy an expensive smartphone for yourself. But your child demands a PlayStation. He would not listen to you or understand that you are longing to buy a phone. So, you prioritize his want over yours and buy whatever he wants.

Example #4: You tell your teenager to study as the exams are round the corner. But she has two late night parties to attend in the next two days. You do not object to it but allow her to go and have fun, while the studies take a backseat.

Example #5: “Can you wind up your toys after you are done playing? You don’t have to dear if you are tired.”

So, do you belong to this type? Read on to know.

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Characteristics Of Permissive Parents

Some of the typical traits of permissive parents include:

  • Loving and nurturing, but without rules and boundaries.
  • Emotionally supportive, highly responsive, and less demanding.
  • More of a friend than a parent to the child.
  • Offer minimal structure, order, or schedule.
  • Avoid conflicts and confrontations with the child.
  • Want to be liked instead of upsetting the children.
  • Provide no consequences for their child’s negative behavior.
  • Have minimal routines or schedules for children and the few that they may have, are inconsistent and often broken to give in to the child’s demands.
  • Excessively use rewards to get things done.
  • Allow too much screen time and junk food.
  • Use toys and gifts to motivate their child behave well.
  • Focus on the child’s freedom at the expense of learning to accept limits.

When the parents are this lenient, then the children develop some easy-going traits. What are they?

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[ Read: Parenting Styles And Their Influence ]

Permissive Parenting: Typical Traits In Children

Children may love permissive parenting style as it gives them the maximum freedom without any strings attached. But it could be problematic in the long-run.

Here are the traits of children raised by permissive parents:

  • Trouble regulating emotions.
  • Rebellious when their demands are challenged.
  • Have little self-control or self-regulation.
  • Have difficulty in following the rules.
  • Lack discipline and oppose authority.
  • May not take responsibility for their behavior.
  • Studies (2) indicate an association between permissive parenting style and behavioral problems and substance abuse in teenagers.
  • They may be demanding and have difficulty sharing.
  • Lack of boundaries results in insecurity in children.Permissive parenting does more harm than good to the children. However, it has a few advantages too.

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Pros And Cons Of Permissive Parenting

Here we tell you about how permissive parenting can be good as well as bad.


As this parenting style focuses on being a friend to a child rather than a parent, the parents understand their children better, and communication becomes easy as they grow old.

Here are some more benefits of permissive parenting:

  1. Highly nurturing and loving: Permissive parents make children their priority and go to great lengths to keep them happy. This can be the result of their own unhappy parent-child relationship. Hence, they don’t want their children to go through the same experience and provide everything they were deprived of in their childhood.
  1. Minimal conflict with children: They do not want to upset their child, hence, give in to the child’s demands. So, there are no conflicts, and the relationship is peaceful.
  1. The creative side of the children is tapped: Permissive parents allow freedom and place no limitation on their children; hence, they explore everything and unleash their latent creativity.

[ Read: Authoritarian Parenting Style ]


Giving excessive leniency may have significant negative consequences. Let’s see what the drawbacks of permissive parenting are:

  1. A conflict between needs and wants: As children grow older, they might demand a lot of things  and have unrealistic and unreasonable expectations. They need guidance and limit setting from their parents.

Since permissive parents do not want to upset their children, they give their children everything they ask for. The child does not learn the difference between needs and wants.

  1. Lack of time management: In the absence of rules and structure at home, these children may not learn the value of time. They might spend too much time watching television or playing online games.
  1. Lack of parental control: In permissive parenting, the child may come to feel that they are in charge rather than their parents, and experience that can generate significant anxiety.
  1. Emotional imbalance: Children who do not have limits set on their behavior can have difficulty regulating their emotions, especially when their needs are not met.

The drawbacks are not limited to the day-to-day schedule of the children but have a long-term effect on their psyche.

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Effects Of Permissive Parenting

Children love freedom, but when they misuse it or when there are no boundaries to check their behavior, the effects can be unpleasant.

Here are some behavioral problems that may result from permissive parenting:

  1. Impulsive: The children become impulsive, and do things without thinking them through. Moreover, they  may refuse to take responsibility for their acts.
  1. Bullying: As these children lack experience with the rules and consequences, they may not have a fear of punishment. This may lead to bullying of the other children who do not follow their instructions during play in they may be more likely to break the rules at school or other places.
  1. Behavioral problems: Permissive parents often justify their children’s misbehavior with a “kids will be kids” statement. Hence, these children may be less likely to take responsibility for their behavior and to acknowledge when they make mistakes.
  1. Poor performance in school: Studies (3) have found that permissive parenting is linked to lower academic performance in children. As parents have low expectations and do not make demands, children may lack motivation to work towards a goal.

[ Read: Co-Parenting ]

  1. Difficulty making decisions: When the time comes for them to make crucial decisions pertaining to their career or resolve problems in their life, they may struggle due to lack of experience with this type of situation. Their parents may not have made them face any hardships before.
  1. Aggressive behavior: These children may have little experience with rejection. When faced with a “no” response beyond the confines of their immediate family they may behave in an aggressive manner.
  1. Poor social skills: If parents don’t teach the child appropriate behavior, they may lack social skills such as sharing, caring, and empathy.
  1. Emotional inadequacy: One of the biggest fears of permissive parents is that they might upset their children when they say or do something. So, they do everything to meet their demands and make them happy. As a result,children do not feel safe with normal negative emotions such as anger.

If you have been a permissive parenting but now want to change your style, then it is never too late.

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What Can You Do If You Are A Permissive Parent?

It is time you incorporated the below strategies into your parenting style:

  1. Define ground and family rules. You need to let your kids know what you are expecting from them by setting rules.
  1. Enforce the consequences. For your rules to be effective, you need to let your child know the consequences of breaking the rules. Set some simple consequences for simple rules, and serious consequences for serious faults like cheating or stealing.
  1. Be firm and consistent: This can be challenging especially when parents have been lenient towards their kids. Be firm yet loving towards them. Make them understand the importance of following the rules while also being consistent in applying the consequences.
  1. Praise: When your child behaves well, praise them. That will motivate them to do well.Small concrete rewards can also be helpful at times.
  2. Be mindful: Observe what your child’s behavior is communicating. For example, a meltdown may occur because a child is tired or hungry or stressed by a new baby in the home or  a move. There may be bigger issues such as marital conflict or illness in a parent. It is important to set limits and rules while recognizing the meaning of the child’s behavior.

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[ Read: Authoritative Parenting Style ]

There is nothing wrong in fulfilling your child’s demands but there needs to be a limit.Children feel safe and secure when the people who care for them set appropriate limits on their behavior.

What do you think about permissive parenting? Let us know by commenting below.

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