Sample Psychology Term Paper on Parenting Styles and their Effects on Child Behavior

Parenting Styles and their effects on child behavior


            Every parent desires for their children to posses qualities that make them adorable and revered within the society. To a great extent, the behaviors adopted by children are dependent on the interactions between several factors within their ecosystems. Children’s behaviors depend on their internal characteristics as well as on various exogenous factors including the social environment of their upbringing and the roles of their parents. Past studies have indicated the influence that different parenting styles have on the development of their children.

  1. Statement of the Problem

Parenting styles have varied greatly from the traditional settings to the contemporary times. In the past, parenting styles were most likely to be authoritative. In the contemporary times however, parenting styles have changed significantly, with most parents adopting an indifferent attitude to their parenting roles. Permissive parenting has taken center place in defining attribute development among children especially during the youthful stages. The impacts of different parenting styles on the development of children are profound and visible. For instance, in the traditional societies, it was more common to find children who portrayed qualities such as responsibility, sensitivity and high moral standings. In the contemporary times, children are mostly associated with negative qualities including high levels of moral erosion, irresponsibility and selfishness. On the other hand, positive qualities are also existent in most of the children in today’s society. For instance, creativity, innovation and competitiveness have been on the rise. It is thus arguable that besides the parenting styles, the behaviors of children are influenced by other factors such as education levels, technology and culture changes. The aspect of culture change is even more prevalent since it also affects parenting styles.

  1. Definition of terms

To be capable of developing the study thesis and to understand it effectively, it is crucial for some of the terms that will be used in the paper to be defined. The following terms should be understood as outlined herein.

Contemporary society – is defined as the present day societies as described by their cultural, socio-political and economic beliefs and practices.

Negligence – is defined as the tendency of parents to show little interest in the activities, behaviors and development of their children. It can also be referred to as laxity, slackness or carelessness.

Parenting styles – The strategies that parents use to mould their children socially and behaviorally to ensure they turn out in a particular way.

Indulgent parenting – among parents, indulgent parenting is defined as tolerant parenting. This is whereby parents understand their children and treat them with kindness and lenience. Antonym: Strict parenting.

  1. Theoretical Framework

Children’s behavior can be linked to various factors in the environment in which they are brought up. For instance, many studies have focused on the use of child development theories to explain behavioral outcomes associated with the adolescence age. While discussing the impacts of parenting on the development of specific behaviors in children, previous studies have mostly engaged in the interaction between different factors in the same. For instance, studies such as that conducted by Medora et al (2001) assert that parental behaviors are likely to be transferred to children. This implies that some of the parental behaviors may go down generations unless a parent decides to make a positive change to avoid passing negative tendencies to their children. At the same time, Spink et al (2010) describe children through their engagement in online activities. The authors thus conclude that technological advancements also have an impact on the development of certain tendencies among children. Cultures have also been cited to play a role in child behavior development. All these mean that child behavior is not a phenomenon that can be lucidly explained on the basis of parenting style but rather depends on interplay of several factors.

Collaboration between parents, social support structures available and the children has the potential of resulting in the development of positive values such as responsibility, selflessness and uprightness. On the other hand, failure of the various systems to collaborate could create children who are irresponsible, selfish and with a myriad of negative behaviors. The parents are however the drivers of collaborative interaction between the different factions of child care. As such, it can be argued that in the child care equation, the parenting styles form the independent variables. Features such as technology and the culture act as moderating attributes in the equation while the behavioral outcomes are the dependent parameters.

  1. Thesis Statement

The study focuses on examining the aspect of negligent parenting relative to the other methods of parenting such as the indulgent and permissive styles of parenting which are quintessential in the contemporary times.

  1. Research objectives

The study was conducted with a general objective supported by two specific objectives.

General objective: to explore the extent of negligent and other parenting styles in the present day society.

Specific Objectives: In order to accomplish the general objective, the study was conducted under the guidance of two specific objectives i.e.

  1. To determine the extent of application of different parenting styles in today’s society
  2. To examine the influence that the different parenting styles have on the behavior of children.
    1. Hypotheses

The hypotheses of the study include:

  1. There are minimal differences between traditional and contemporary parenting styles.
  2. The influences of parenting styles on the behaviors of children are insignificant.
    1. Research Questions

Based on the two hypotheses, the research sought to answer the two questions below:

  1. What are the differences between contemporary and traditional parenting styles?
  2. What influences do the parenting styles have on children’s behaviors?
    1. Rationale for the Study

In the contemporary times, behavioral changes have been prevalent among children and youths. Such behavior modifications are in most cases attributed to change in parenting styles from the indulgent to the more negligent practices. Moreover, the emergence of technology and social media has also influence behavior patterns among children and youths significantly. While there is the potential that such technologies like the internet and availability of information leads to the increased potential for learning, it is also possible for them to result in negative outcomes. The influence of technology on the behavior patterns of children depends on the sites accessed by the children and the contents they are exposed to. Peer influence and social structuring can influence accessibility to different morally depraving websites hence the children lose their positive bearing. It is the responsibility of parents to restrict access to such technologies that could deny their children an opportunity to be positively molded. The present study focuses on the role of parenting style on the behaviors of children, but does so without ignoring the moderating effects of technology and cultural alienation on child behavior. Consequently, it has the capacity to impact the academic positively through increasing the amount of information available on parenting styles as well as on child behavior modification. The study findings will be crucial for understanding the causes of behavior modification among children, especially with regards to parenting styles. It is therefore essential in the fields pertaining to child morality, selfless living and social responsibility.

2.0 Literature Review

2.1 Background of the study

            According to a study by Dunn et al (2003) parents can recognize and mention some of the most desirable qualities among their children. Some of the qualities that many parents would like their children to possess include high self esteem, discipline, commitment, self- confidence, respect and responsibility among others. Most parents would like their children to possess these qualities regardless of their parenting styles. This implies that it is the dream of every parent, whether indulgent or negligent, to have a child living well and capable of portraying positive behaviors. However Greening et al (2010) are of the opinion that such behaviors can only be developed through an effective parenting strategy. Parenting styles can result in either adaptive or maladaptive behavior patterns. As such, it is advisable for parents to take parenting roles seriously and thus impact their children’s behaviors positively. Greening et al also discuss different parenting styles that have been used in the past and which are still in use today. The authors describe the parenting styles together with the expected behavioral outcomes in the children. An example is the authoritative style whereby parents are sensitive, flexible and warm in their parenting roles yet demand maturity in decision making among the children. The children whose parents practice this kind of style are more likely to be responsible, selfless and morally upright in comparison to others children.

2.2 Standards of Children’s Behaviors in the Traditional Societies

            In most of the previous studies conducted on the role of parenting styles on children’s behaviors, there is no clarity between traditional societies and contemporary societies. However, the studies clearly indicate that parenting styles have changed slightly over the years. This has in effect resulted in behavior modifications among children. From the work done by Tuukkanen and Wilska (2014), behavioral expectations in the past were different from the contemporary times due to the absence of the internet. This implies that the authors indicate that behaviors in the past were more conservative. In line with the arguments given by Greening et al (2010), authoritative parenting, which was more common in the traditional societies, was more likely to result in the production of children with positive behaviors. It was thus expected that children should be responsible, conscientious and of good academic performance. Moreover, it was also less probable for teenagers to engage in suicide as compared to the contemporary times (Greening et al., 2010). Slicker also reports that the authoritarian style of parenting that was common in the traditional times was essential for mitigating depression among youths (1998). The studies conducted in this area show that while the internet had not infiltrated the society as such, parents found it easier to address their children authoritatively hence the expectations were higher morally as well as in other aspects of life.

On the other hand, behavioral changes have been observed in the contemporary times among children due to cultural changes. Masud et al (2015) however argue that there is no evident connection between parenting styles and the cultures in which the parents are integral determinants of child behavior. Masud and others suggest that culture has no implications on any of the features of parenting style. The authors are however unclear on whether culture influences child behavior or not. In the contemporary times, parents still expect their children to be responsible, respectful and with strong social skills. In addition to these expectations that are also prevalent in the traditional societies, parents in the contemporary society also know of the role that the internet plays in their children’s lives. They are therefore more likely to have internet connections in comparison to houses where there are no children. This comes with limitations in that the expectations that parent have from their children are also changed. The use of the internet makes creates an impact on the children’s social skills hence parents from the new generations expect their children to be more effective at fair play and teamwork.

2.3 Technological interventions

            The behaviors of children in the contemporary society are influenced by technologies to a large extent. For instance, Spink et al (2010) opine that the prevalent use of the internet among children in the contemporary times sets them apart as the Net generation. These children use the internet and web search engines and are well versed with the practices involved. Families with children connect to the internet as parents have realized the role of internet connections in the learning process (Spink et al., 2010). Tuukkanen and Wilska (2014) also support the arguments by Spink et al concerning the prevalence of internet use among children. The authors go further to explain the role that internet has played in advancing behavior change among children. For instance, Tuukkanen and Wilska assert that while the internet is essential in education due to increased availability of information, it also has the potential to cause destructive behaviors among children. The rationale behind this argument is that the online environment provided by the internet through the many social networks gives the children an opportunity to act anonymously. The negative behaviors result from exposure to unbecoming contents through the internet. For instance, children exposed to negative content are more likely to act under social pressure by engaging in activities such as substance use and abuse, criminal activities that make them a security threat as well as anti- social behavior. On the other hand, children may also be influenced by the internet to be more socially skilled as well as to possess a sense of community empowerment (Tuukkanen & Wilska, 2014).

2.4 Contemporary Behavior Change among Children

            Suffice to say; the observed behavior changes among children have been varied based on the acquired values through their upbringing. However, some of the most common trends across different countries include an increase in the prevalence of substance use and abuse; engagement in immoral behaviors; increased competition and egocentricity as well as increased irresponsibility (Tuukkanen & Wilska, 2014). Engagement in risky behaviors such as teenage sex has also been on the increase. According to Christianakis (2002), both culture and technology play a role in influencing the development of children as well as their behavior adaptations. It is thus probable that these aspects have contributed significantly to behavior modification especially due to the presence of the internet. In Spink et al (2010), children have the competency to access various websites as well as search engines hence they have unrestricted access to information, some of which provide them with morally eroding content. The children’s cognitive capacities and moral behaviors are thus both affected extensively by the content they watch and hear.

2.5 Parental Guidance and Control of Behavior Change

            The findings of Dahinten et al (2007) portray the image that parental competency varies by age. For instance, Dahinten et al compare the competency of teenage parents with that of other parents. The authors assert that teenage mothers are more likely to be negligent as compared to others. Consequently, as the rates of adolescence pregnancy increase, it is expected that the rate of parental negligence also increases (Dahinten et al., 2007). Similarly, Williams et al (2012) also claim that some behaviors are transferable from parents to their children. Irresponsible behaviors such as immorality, substance use and abuse and indifference are common among teenage parents hence it is expected that their children would also be brought up in negligence and thus practice what they observe among their parents. Medora et al (2001) mention tendencies that result in negative child behavior outcomes. Such tendencies include drug use, social aggression and indifference. This matches the findings of other studies by Williams et al and Dahinten that were previously examined.

3.0 Methodology

3. 1 Type of research

A descriptive approach was used in the study to compare the traditional and contemporary parenting styles and their influences on child behaviors. The main method was an exploration of the differences in morality, behavior and responsibility between two generations. The parenting styles were considered to be the independent variables that affected children’s behaviors.

3.2 The Respondents

The target population of the study was undefined yet the study focused on applying historical data to collect evidence on variable methodologies. The study was phenomenological as it focused on the tendency to explore the features of the trend. Moreover, performance of behavioral therapy was assessed based on the individual social change outcomes.

3.3 Instruments

The study was based on data collected through various instruments including interviews, survey questionnaires and direct observation. The statistical package for social scientists also proved to be a crucial tool in most of the analyses carried out.

3.4 Population Sample

For the study, the population sample was targeted to be children aged between six and ten years and whose behaviors are affected by parenting styles. This is because considering the entire population in the study would be unreasonable due to the mammoth nature of the target population.

4.0 Data Analysis, Presentation and Discussion

            From the data collected, it was shown that the contemporary parenting styles differed only slightly from the traditional styles. In particular, while the parenting style descriptions for the contemporary times match those for the traditional settings, it was determined that the application of different styles differed from generation to generation. Some of the factors that contribute to the divergence of parenting styles from one generation to another include technological advancements and culture. Culture in itself has no significant implication for parenting styles but technology affects children’s behaviors as it also influences the parenting styles applicable to the children. Technology has the potential of resulting in both positive and negative outcomes such as social maturity and immorality respectively. In accordance with the findings of various studies, the correlation between negative behavioral outcomes and the use of social networks was found to be high. Moreover, it was also established that parents directed the path towards behavior change by passing behaviors down to the next generation as well as due to the differences in parenting age and societal expectations. Despite the influences of parenting styles, technologies and culture on the children’s behaviors, it was ascertained that most parents still desire for their children to possess behaviors such as responsibility, moral uprightness and selflessness as was in the traditional periods. However, when parenting styles are negligent, children are more likely to be delinquent, aggressive and irresponsible.

5.0 Limitations of the study

            The study has satisfactorily achieved its objective which was to explore the parenting styles used in the traditional times and to compare them with those of the contemporary times. In spite of this, the study poses a single limitations which lies in its constraint of scope. The wide objective of the study implied that only a very limited depth could be reached in the study. This thus gives a great potential for future studies to dig into the background of the information presented herein.

6.1 Recommendations

            From the observations made during the study, the key recommendation that would be made for future considerations is to conduct studies based on actual primary research approaches. Involving both parents and children in such a study could help to obtain more reliable results as the parents report on their expectations relative to their observations from their children. The children on the other hand would be expected to give information concerning their parents’ parenting styles under guidance by various questions. In this way, the behavioral outcomes can be connected to the parenting styles and a trend established.

7.0 Conclusion

            Parenting styles play a key role in influencing child behavior. However, the impacts of parenting styles on child behaviors are moderated by factors such as technology and culture. The study satisfactorily shows that parenting styles have changed through the years from the more authoritative forms to more indulgent forms. However, some parents practice negligent parenting. The effects of parenting styles come through mainly when parents pass down their own behaviors to their children or through technology. Although the study has successfully answered the research questions, it is clear that there is still need for further research on the subject. It is therefore recommended that future research should use more intensive primary approaches.


Christianakis, M. (2002). Children, Technology, and Culture: The Impacts of Technologies in Children’s Everyday Lives. Contemporary Sociology, 31(3), 346-347.

Dahinten, V S., Shapka, J. D., & Willms, J D. (2007). Adolescent children of adolescent mothers: The impact of family functioning on trajectories of development. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 36(2), 195-212.

Dunn, J., Kinney, D. and Hofferth, S. (2003). Parental Ideologies and Children’s After School Activities. American Behavioral Scientist, 46(10): 1359- 1386.

Greening, L., Stoppelbein, L. and Luebbe, A. (2010). The Moderating Effects of Parenting Styles on African- American and Caucasian Children’s Suicidal Behaviors. Journal of Youth Adolescence, 39: 357- 369.

Masud, H., Thurasamy, R. & Ahmad, M. (2015). Parenting Styles and Academic Achievement of Young Adolescents: A Systematic Literature Review. M.S. Quality & Quantity, 49: 2411. Doi: 10.1007/s11135-014-0120-x

Medora, N. P., Wilson, S., & Larson, J. H. (2001). Attitudes toward parenting strategies, the potential for child abuse, and parental satisfaction of ethnically diverse low-income U.S. mothers. The Journal of Social Psychology, 141(3), 335-48.

Slicker, E.K. (1998). Relationship of Parenting Style to Behavioral Adjustment in Graduating High School Seniors. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 27: 345. Doi: 10.1023/a: 1022855104236

Spink, A., Danby, S., Susan, J., Mallan, K. and Butler, C. (2010). Exploring Young Children’s Web Searching and Technoliteracy. Journal of Documentation, 66(2), 191- 206.

Tuukkanen, T. and Wilska, T. (2014). Online Environments in Children’s Everyday Life: Children’s, Parents’ and Teachers’ Point of View. Conference Paper.

Williams, K. E., Ciarrochi, J., & Heaven, P. (2012). Inflexible parents, inflexible kids: A 6-year longitudinal study of parenting style and the development of psychological flexibility in adolescents. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 41(8), 1053-66.