Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Child Behavior and Development

pp 1080-1080

Permissive Parenting Style

  • Leah E. JohnsonAffiliated withDepartment of Educational Psychology and Leadership, Texas Tech University
  • , Heather M. KelleyAffiliated withDepartment of Educational Psychology and Leadership, Texas Tech University


Democratic-indulgent parenting style; Indulgent parenting style; Rejecting-neglecting parenting style


A style of parenting that has a high level of acceptance but a low level of control or demand.


The permissive parenting style is characterized by a high level of nurturance and low levels of maturity demands from children, low levels of control, and low levels of communication between parent and child. Parents who exhibit permissive parenting are highly involved with their children, but place few demands or controls on them. These parents do little to train their children to be more independent. Children of permissive parents are allowed to do what they want with little input from the parents. Often, permissive parents allow their children to make their own decisions at an age when they are not yet ready to do so.

The permissive parenting style is defined by warm and accepting parents who are uninvolved. These parents can be either overindulging or inattentive [2]. Parents may be deliberately permissive because they believe this style of parenting will foster creative, confident children [4]. Permissive parenting can be categorized as either democratic-indulgent or rejecting-neglecting. Democratic-indulgent parents are loving parents but rarely restrict their children’s behavior unless there is imminent danger. These parents tend to be overindulging, often going along with the child’s wishes. In comparison, rejecting-neglecting parents do not attend to parenting details due to disinterest or being overwhelmed by life. Different from democratic-indulgent parents, rejecting-neglecting parents are not aware of what their children’s interests are or what their children are doing.

Relevance to Childhood Development

Children of permissive parents show many negative outcomes such as the tendency to be unhappy, lacking self-control and self-reliance. These children have been found to do slightly worse in school as adolescents. Also, children with permissive parents tend to be more aggressive, to be somewhat more immature with peers and in school, and less likely to take responsibility for their actions. Permissive parenting may also result in children who are domineering, egocentric, and noncompliant [4]. Children of permissive parents are impulsive and rebellious. The likelihood for being overly demanding and less persistence on tasks is greater for these children as well. The connection between permissive parenting and dependent, nonachieving behavior is particularly strong for males [2].

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011
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