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 no structure, order, or schedule.
  • Avoid conflicts and confrontations with the child.
  • Want to be liked instead of upsetting the children.
  • Do not control the child.
  • Provide no consequences for their child’s behavior.
  • Have no 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.
  • Entice the child with rewards to get things done.
  • Allow too much screen time and junk food.
  • Bribe with toys and gifts to make their child behave well.
  • Focus on the child’s freedom rather than making them responsible.

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 damaging in the long-run.

Here are the traits of children raised by permissive parents:

  • Emotionally inadequate.
  • Rebellious when their demands are challenged.
  • Exhibit antisocial behavior.
  • Have no self-control or self-regulation.
  • Have difficulty in following the rules.
  • Lack discipline, become selfish and oppose authority.
  • Irresponsible for their behavior.
  • Studies (2) indicate an association between permissive parenting style and behavioral problems and substance abuse in teenagers.
  • They are demanding and selfish and do not like sharing.
  • Lack of boundaries results in insecurity in children.
  • Inadequate social skills.

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 ]


Anything in excess is bad! Giving excessive leniency is damaging to your child. 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. But, as a parent, you need to decide what is right and appropriate for them.

Since permissive parents do not want to upset their children, they give their children everything they ask for. There is a conflict between the child’s wants and needs.

  1. Lack of time management: In the absence of rules and structure at home, these children do not learn the value of time. They inculcate a lazy attitude and might spend time watching television for a long time or playing online games.
  1. No parental control: In permissive parenting, the child seems to be the parent because they are in charge of their behavior. These children realize that their parents do not want to upset or confront them; hence they manipulate their parents to do whatever they want.
  1. Emotional imbalance: Children cannot regulate their emotions, especially when their needs are not met.
  1. Lack discipline: Permissive parenting results in indiscipline for the simple reason that the children are not taught discipline at home.

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 could result from permissive parenting:

  1. Impulsive: The children become impulsive, and do things in haste. Moreover, they refuse to take responsibility for their acts.
  1. Bullying: As these children don’t follow the rules and consequences, they do not have a fear of punishment. This will make them bully the other kids in school, and they 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 grow up to be irresponsible and fail to accept their faults.
  1. Poor performance in school: Studies (3) have found that permissive parenting is linked to lower academic performance in children. As parents expect little from the children, they have no goal towards which they can work.

[ Read: Co-Parenting ]

  1. Poor decision makers: When the time comes for them to make crucial decisions pertaining to their career or resolve problems in their life, they may turn weak in their knees because they have never been in such situations before. Their parents have been too good to make them face any hardships before.
  1. Aggressive behavior: These children do not know what rejection is because they haven’t faced it before. They cannot take ‘no’ for an answer from the society. Any negative response can turn them aggressive.
  1. Poor social skills: As the parents don’t teach the child appropriate behavior, they 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, they barely allow their children to express other emotions besides happiness.

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

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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. Reward: When your child behaves well, reward them. That will motivate them to do well.

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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. Also, when you are responding to their demands, you need to demand certain behavior in return. That prepares children to be responsible as they know that they should give something to get something.

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

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