How is Permissive Parenting Shaping Your Child's Behavior?

How is Permissive Parenting Shaping Your Child's Behavior?

We’ll say it louder for those in the back: parenting is a tough job.

Sure, it’s filled with pleasures, milestones, and moments of pride, but there’s always that little niggling voice questioning the ways we bring up our kids.

Or is that TikTok… 🤔

Let’s face it, you’re not just raising children here, mama.

You’re shaping future adults—albeit with unique personalities all of their own.

So yes, wondering how your parenting style can affect them for the rest of their lives will pop up from time to time.

Especially on those days when your patience is running low or, you know, is virtually non-existent.

But if helicopter parenting still leaves you feeling more than uneasy—even on those challenging days—it may be tempting to follow your child’s lead.

Welcome to the world of permissive parenting.

In this article: 📝

  • What is a permissive parent?
  • What are examples of permissive parenting?
  • What does permissive parenting do to a child?
  • What are the negative effects of permissive parenting?
  • Is permissive parenting gentle parenting?
  • How to strike a good balance with your parenting style

What is a permissive parent?

Free and easy forms the heart of the permissive parenting style.

As the name suggests, a permissive parent tends to be more lenient and highly responsive to their child.

Their style of parenting favors minimal demands and lots of independence—the very opposite of helicopter parenting.

Forget strict boundaries, permissive parents see their children as equals who should be free to honor their true nature with zero expectations.

And because love is the main ingredient in this dynamic, permissive parents are often highly nurturing, warm, and indulgent with their children.

But not so keen on discipline, responsibility, or control.

Hey, kids will be kids, right?

Instead of rules, their tools of trade tend to involve gift-giving and some causal bribery.

All this has earned this brand of parenting the moniker ‘indulgent parenting’.

And the sure sign of a permissive parent?

They often appear more like a friend to their child than a guardian—all the way down to asking their opinions on household decisions.

What are examples of permissive parenting?

Picture this scene:

It’s closing in on dinner time, and your child is eager for a sweet snack.

A piece of fruit will not cut it, and as far as their concerned, a five-minute wait is not an option.

Only candy will do.

Sure, it’s not the healthiest option, and they’re most definitely going to ruin their appetite for family mealtime (again), but you give in and allow them to indulge.

Permissive parents are often non-confrontational, loose on limits, and eager to prioritize their child’s happiness.

All the better to stay in the friend zone.

Here are six prime examples of permissive parenting:

1. Lacking rules or limits

Permissive parents tend to feel uncomfortable disciplining their kids for fear it will damage their relationship.

They shy away from setting clear rules or boundaries for their children and are not known for following through when any limits they do set are broken.

2. Minimal consequences

When their child does misbehave, permissive parents are rarely consistent in imposing consequences.

In pursuit of maintaining a strong bond, they’ll often let their child off the hook or shrug it off entirely.

And if there is any scolding, it’s often light, with very little discipline behind it

3. Overindulgence

Being overly supportive, encouraging, and nurturing parents, they shower their children with gifts and flattery.

No matter the behavior, toys, money, food, privileges, and excessive praise are always up for grabs.

Sometimes it’s for bribery, other times, it’s a way to keep the peace, but one thing is for sure, indulgent parents are uncomfortable with the word ‘no.’

4. No strict routines

Monitored screen time, snacks, or homework? Forget about it.

A permissive parenting style allows children to lead the way without much input from caregivers.

And that includes making their own decisions around bedtime, meals, and TV watching.

As for housework and responsibilities, that’s for the grown-ups to worry about.

5. Friendship dynamic

Permissive parents are all about fostering a close bond with their child and strive to be more of a friend than an authority figure.

Being liked is the name of the game, but it can also mean treating a young child as an adult—allowing them to make their own decisions, join in grown-up conversations, and regulate their own emotions.

What does permissive parenting do to a child?

Permissive parenting may have the reputation of being laidback, lenient, and full of love, but research shows that it can have a long-term impact on a child’s development.

A lot of it comes down to a lack of boundaries.

Clear boundaries are basically consistent guidelines on how to relate to each other in a way that protects the well-being of both.

In a family setting, boundaries define what is appropriate behavior and set expectations based on each individual’s abilities and role within the unit.

Most importantly, they offer a child security, consistency, and the opportunity to develop independence.

Boundaries are the first stepping stones to teaching kids how to relate to others in appropriate ways as they learn how to recognize and respect the needs of others and themselves.

It’s powerful for fostering self-awareness and strong interpersonal skills—the hallmarks of a good leader.

But without boundaries, a child is more likely to engage in irresponsible behavior and struggle with self-discipline and decision-making.

And they may lack the ability to handle setbacks since they’ve never learned to navigate the boundaries of others and equally struggle to have boundaries of their own.

This can include being unable to recognize inappropriate behavior in others. 🚩

And as much as permissive parenting affords children every indulgence, it may leave them constantly searching for self-worth from external sources rather than learning how to feel secure in themselves.

On the flip side, research has shown that teens with permissive parents exhibit higher self-esteem and have a more positive worldview.

Little surprise when you consider that the odds seem forever in their favor.

What are the negative effects of permissive parenting?

Look, there’s no denying that permissive parenting stems from a desire to be a strong source of warmth, love, and encouragement for a child.

But while the intention is pure, it’s important to consider the potential negative effects indulgent parenting can have on children.

The research is in:

1. Difficulty regulating emotions

Research shows that permissive parenting can have a negative effect on emotional intelligence with children growing up lacking verbal and behavioral control.

Because children of permissive parents are often left to regulate their own behavior, emotions, and activities, they never really learn to do so well.

This tends to show up later as immaturity, low self-control, lack of empathy, dependency, and impulsiveness.

2. Behavioral issues

A 2018 study in Japan linked permissive parenting to externalizing behavioral problems in boys (but not in girls).

And another study found that permissive parenting styles that imposed fewer limits on a child’s behavior resulted in higher social aggression.

It seems the more a child’s misbehavior is avoided or tolerated, the more likely they’ll grow up defying authority and disrespecting boundaries.

3. Low academic performers

Turns out that structure and consistent expectations are the foundations for a high achiever.

Because kids raised by permissive parents have very little expectations placed on them, they may struggle to perform in an academic setting.

But another study indicates that permissive parenting could result in better educational outcomes because it encourages greater self-confidence and imagination.

It really all depends on the cultural context, academic support available, and the family’s socioeconomic status.

Is permissive parenting gentle parenting?

Don’t let the delicate title fool you, gentle parenting is most definitely not permissive parenting.

In many ways, they occupy completely different sides of the parenting style spectrum.

So, while indulgent parenting gives children the majority of decision-making power and self-regulating responsibility, gentle parenting is all about collaborating with your child.

Wait, what?

Basically, gentle parents seek to understand their child’s feelings and behavior while still holding them accountable.

Gentle parenting is known as a highly compassionate, empathetic style of parenting that favors helping children work through difficult emotions by engaging with them.

And when it comes to discipline, gentle parenting is all about boundaries.

But unlike authoritative parenting, these are not inflexible limitations that must be abided by no matter what.

Instead, gentle parents impose boundaries through healthy conversations and natural consequences.

Yelling and punishment have no place in gentle parenting, any more than it does in the permissive style, but understanding that actions have consequences absolutely does.

If you’re drawn to this popular approach, check out our detailed guide to gentle parenting.

what is a permissive parent

How to strike a good balance with your parenting style

With a total of six parenting styles (!) to choose from—and persuasive arguments for each—it’s hard to know what’s the right route for you to take.

Especially as a first-time mom.

In truth, it starts with being conscious of the tools you already have.

Not every parenting style will work for you, and you may even find some of them don’t feel natural to you at all.

And that’s OK!

It’s about finding the dynamic that works best for you and enriches your child’s development.

Even if that looks like a unique blend of parenting styles.

Just be sure you find a balance between being nurturing and setting appropriate boundaries.

Without experiencing consequences, your child may end up developing unrealistic expectations without the resilience or skillset to handle setbacks—or even firm no’s.

The reality is children need love, guidance, and boundaries to flourish into confident, capable individuals fit to lead the next generation.

But let’s just start with some tips to help you find the balance:

  1. Communicate openly: Take a page from the gentle parenting playbook and talk to your child about boundaries and expectations. Help them understand why certain rules are in place and how they benefit your child’s well-being too.
  2. Encourage independence: Permissive parenting doesn’t have it all wrong! Giving your child space to make age-appropriate decisions allows them to learn responsibility and boost their self-esteem.
  3. Be consistent: Boundaries can (and should) be flexible and adapt over time but make sure that they are consistent. Clear expectations and predictability help your child feel secure and eventually build confidence.
  4. Have consequences: Far from punishment, offering fair and natural consequences is essential for helping your child learn from their mistakes. It also helps them better prepare for the real world by understanding that their actions have an effect.
  5. Provide emotional support: A child’s brain does not fully mature until 25, so the chances of your toddler being able to self-regulate are slim. It’s not always easy, but offering empathy and understanding is crucial for fostering self-worth and a high EQ.
  6. Validate, validate, validate: If there’s one thing permissive parenting gets right, it’s the importance of validating your child’s wins. But it also means validating their feelings in challenging moments. You won’t always approve of the emotion, but helping them feel seen and understood is the best way for building a secure, well-regulated grown-up. That’s a win, mama.

For more tips or to find your parenting style gang, tap into the Peanut community.

We’d love to see you. ❤️


Close accordion
Popular on the blog
Trending in our community