Can Permissive Parenting Hurt Your Child?

Updated April 9, 2024by Regain Editorial Team

If you’re raising a child, you likely find yourself wondering sometimes how your parenting decisions will impact your child. You may worry if you’ve given them enough guidance, support, care, and compassion, or if you’ve maybe given them too much of something. Different parents can have very different approaches to how they raise their children, and researchers have come up with several different possible categories of broader parenting styles. These styles include authoritative, authoritarian, permissive, and uninvolved. In this article, we’ll take a look at permissive parenting in particular to examine its possible effects.

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What is permissive parenting?

Permissive parenting is a parenting style that tends to involve being warm and nurturing but placing very low demands on your child. You tend to give them very few rules and very few guidelines. There are very few consequences to actions because there aren’t many rules that guide what type of actions the child should or shouldn’t engage in. The child is mostly left to their own devices to do whatever they may or may not want. If that means getting into things and making a mess or not doing the chores they were asked to help out with, the permissive parent often lets it slide.

These types of parents are often viewed as a friend rather than the parent. Children may feel like they are very loved and cared for, but they don’t feel like they have a parent guiding them. Instead, they have a friend who wants to spend time with them and have fun but doesn’t instill rules, guidelines, or expectations. The parent lets them get away with a lot of things.

There is little control or discipline of any kind with permissive parenting, and the parent tends to let the child do whatever they want to do. “Kids will be kids” may be a fitting motto for this style. With permissive parenting, parents may “bribe” their children to encourage good behavior rather than using rules and consequences. Toys, gifts, and even food may be given as a type of bribe. Children may be given a great deal of freedom but very little responsibility because the parents believe that they should be left to their own devices and allowed to be kids as much as possible. There is little in the way of a schedule or any form of structure in the household, and children may even be included in major (adult) decisions.

The pros of permissive parenting

This parenting style can have its benefits. With permissive parenting, a common benefit is a close relationship between the parent and the child. The child feels loved, and they feel like their parent is their friend, which may mean that they feel they can be open and honest in most cases. 

These children may also feel they can explore the world around them and be more daring than some of their peers. They may feel freer to express themselves and try new things and likely won’t be afraid of getting out there and doing something different.

The cons of permissive parenting

On the other hand, there are some drawbacks to this type of parenting. Permissive parenting can lead children to have very little self-control and self-management. Because they have never had rules, guidelines, or consequences for breaking the rules, they may have difficulty learning how to calm down, when to listen to authority figures, and even how to step back from a situation that could be potentially dangerous or reckless. They tend to be more thrill-seeking and impulsive. 

Children raised with this style tend to have low levels of achievement, perhaps because they have no expectations to meet or goals to achieve. In other parenting styles, the parents may require the child to get certain grades or show at least a level of effort, but this is rarely the case in permissive parenting. 

Because there are few rules and the rules are not enforced, the child may have difficulty understanding boundaries, learning how to solve problems, or learning how to make decisions independently. They may get in trouble as they get older because they don’t understand the rules or the consequences of breaking them.

Because permissive parenting often means the child does not need to worry about being told no, these children may be more demanding and aggressive and have less emotional self-management than other children. This may occur because the answer is not always going to be yes in other areas of their life, and the child has not learned to cope with these experiences.

They may also not learn how to effectively manage their time or follow healthy habits because they don’t understand the consequences of these decisions and are not used to having guidelines around these things.

Improving your parenting style

If you are engaging in a permissive parenting style, you may want to consider alternatives that could be better suited to your needs and the needs of your child. Adopting elements from other parenting styles may help you support and encourage your child’s growth more effectively. 

If you would like help in improving your parenting skills or would like support with parenting concerns, online therapy can help. In fact, research has shown that family-based therapy delivered via telehealth is effective at improving “relational and mental health outcomes for family, parent, and child measures.”

Many parents tend to have very busy schedules, and it can be difficult to find the time for something like therapy on top of the many other responsibilities and commitments you have on your plate. With online therapy, you can meet with a therapist wherever you have internet, so there’s no commute necessary, which may make it easier to fit into hectic schedules. 

Looking to adjust your parenting style?


Permissive parenting is a parenting style that tends to involve being warm and nurturing but giving very few, if any, rules and guidelines to your child. This parenting style has a range of possible pros and cons. One possible benefit is that it may create a close relationship between the parent and child. But possible negative effects on the child include low self-management, low self-control, impulsivity, and more. For support with parenting concerns, online therapy can help. 

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