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SOURCE:  Amy Morin, LCSW/VeryWell

No rules and few consequences could harm your child for life.

While the evidence is clear that helicopter parents can interfere with children’s development, children of permissive parents may not fare much better.

Permissive parents have few rules and little structure. They rarely give kids consequences and they don’t spend much time preventing behavior problems.

They tend to be loving and affectionate, but they take the idea that “kids should be kids,” to the extreme.

They allow their children to do most anything they please and research shows the consequences can be devastating.

The Dangers of Permissive Parenting

Researchers from around the world have studied what happens to children who grow up with little discipline. Studies have identified many drawbacks associated with permissive parents’ overly laid-back approach to parenting. Here are some of the negative outcomes of permissive parenting:

  • Children who don’t receive enough guidance don’t learn problem-solving skills that help them learn to make good decisions.
  • Low expectations often lead to low achievement. Kids are less likely to strive to become better when parents don’t encourage them to challenge themselves.
  • Children may be at an increased risk of obesity when parents don’t set limits on food intake. Permissive parents also aren’t likely to enforce healthy doses of outdoor play and exercise.
  • Permissive parents don’t monitor screen time which can lead to excessive television and computer use. Kids with permissive parents are five times more likely to watch over four hours of TV each day.
  • Preschoolers with permissive parents may be at a higher risk of mental health issues including depression and anxiety.
  • Children may behave more aggressively when their parents are permissive. When children aren’t taught how to deal with their emotions effectively, they tend to show more aggressive behavior.
  • Teenagers with permissive parents may be at increased risk of a multitude of behavior problems. Studies have linked permissive parenting with increased alcohol use, higher rates of school misconduct, and lower levels of academic achievement.

How to Be Less Permissive and More Authoritative

If you tend to be a pushover, you may want to take steps to become more authoritative. Sometimes that means developing more confidence in your parenting skills and at other times, it means learning to tolerate your child’s distress.

Here are a few strategies that can help you become less permissive and more authoritative:

  • Establish a list of household rules. It’s important to create rules and expectations to help your child learn what type of behavior is acceptable and what isn’t.
  • Decide on the consequences for breaking the rules ahead of time. For example, determine when you’ll use time-out and when you’ll use logical consequences to address misbehavior.
  • Link privileges to good behavior.  Only allow your child to watch TV or play his favorite game if his behavior warrants those privileges. Teach him that he needs to earn his privileges.
  • Follow through with the limits you set. If you say you’re going to take away a privilege or you tell your child he can’t go outside, it’s essential that you honor your word. Provide consistent and firm discipline to show him that you’re going to take necessary steps to help him learn.

With healthy discipline, consistent rules, and increased structure, you’ll give your child the skills and tools he needs to become a responsible adult.



Jago R, Baranowski T, Baranowski JC, Thompson D, Greaves KA. BMI from 3– 6 y of age is predicted by TV viewing and physical activity, not diet. International  Journal of Obesity. 2005; 29(6):557–564.

Underwood MK, Beron KJ, Rosen LH. Continuity and change in social and physical aggression from middle childhood through early adolescence. Aggressive Behavior. 2009 Sep-Oct; 35(5):357-75.

Williams LR, Degnan KA, Perez-Edgar KE, Henderson HA, Rubin KH, Pine DS, Steinberg L, Fox NA. Impact of behavioral inhibition and parenting style on internalizing and externalizing problems from early childhood through adolescence. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology. 2009; 37(8):1063-75.


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