Unpacking the Consequences of Strict Parenting Practices

Whether we experienced it ourselves or saw it in action, most of us are familiar with the concept of strict parenting. It’s a common practice in many homes, where children face rigid rules, high expectations, and severe consequences for not abiding by them.

And sure, strict parenting can produce obedient children; but, it’s important to consider the long-term consequences it can have on children’s mental and emotional wellbeing.

From feelings of insecurity and helplessness to difficulty forming relationships, a child’s early experiences can shape the way they view themselves and the world around them for years to come. Unpacking the consequences of strict parenting practices is an important step in understanding that an “effective” parenting method that gets kids to do what you want… may not be one that creates a safe and supportive environment for our children.

What is Strict Parenting?

Strict parenting is an approach that focuses on the use of rules, discipline, and punishments to shape a child’s behavior. It is based on the assumption that children should comply with their parents’ expectations and demands, and that failure to do so should be met with clear consequences.

This type of parenting style is often characterized by withholding warmth, low communication, and little effort in understanding the child. Another term used to describe strict parenting is authoritarian parenting, with parents believing that they have the right to dictate and enforce certain behaviors in their children.

The Effects of Strict Parenting

With a high emphasis on compliance, strict parenting will accomplish this goal – yes, if parents focus on changing a behaviour with consequences, the child will likely bend to their parent’s will at some point.

But compliance is not the only effect of strict parenting. And the other effects can be quite problematic. Let’s take a look at the other effects of strict parenting.

1. The Effects of Strict Parenting on Behavior.

This might be a surprise after I mentioned that strict parenting is effective at gaining compliance, but strict parenting leads to worse behaviour in children. Compliance is only in the short-term when the threat of consequences and punishment is immediate.

Eventually, children are raised in a strict parenting environment just won’t be willing to bend any longer. Similiarly, they are often more likely to display aggressive, oppositional, and defiant behaviors – and often at school. Like being in a pressure-cooker, the child will sooner or later display behaviour that are the consequences of having no control and low warmth in their family environment.

They may also have difficulty with self-regulation, as they have been taught that their emotions and desires should be suppressed to comply with their parent’s expectations. This lack of self-regulation can lead to disruptive and defiant behaviors, such as yelling, arguing, and disobeying rules at home or at school.

Children raised in a strict parenting environment are also more likely to have difficulty with executive functions like decision-making and problem-solving skills. Because of their lack of experience self-directing, they may struggle to make decisions independently or think critically about their own choices. Even brain science found connection with strict parenting and lower executive functioning in the children. Yes – how the brain fires can change based on our parenting styles.

2 . The Effects of Strict Parenting on Self-Esteem.

Strict parenting can also have a negative effect on a child’s self-esteem. Children who are raised in a strict parenting environment often feel like they are not good enough or that they are constantly being judged and criticized. This can lead to feelings of insecurity and low self-worth. 

This study found that strict parenting has the same negative impact on a child’s self-esteem as does neglectful parenting. This means that for the child’s self-esteem, it’s no worse if the child was neglected!

These feelings of insecurity can also lead to a lack of confidence and difficulty taking risks. Children raised in a strict parenting environment may be less likely to try new things or take on challenges because they are afraid of failure and the resulting punishment. This can lead to a lack of motivation and ambition in their lives, as they may be too afraid to take risks and try new things.


3. The Effects of Strict Parenting on Family Dynamics.

Strict parenting can also have an effect on the family dynamic. Children who are raised in a strict parenting environment often feel like they have no say in the decisions that are made. This can lead to feelings of resentment, as they feel like their opinions and desires are not taken into account.

This can also lead to a lack of trust in the family. Children may feel like they cannot be open and honest with their parents, as they fear that their thoughts and feelings will be met with criticism or punishment. This can lead to a lack of communication and understanding, which in turn can lead to a breakdown in family relationships.

4. The Effects of Strict Parenting on Mental Health.

The long-term effects of strict parenting can also have a negative impact on a child’s mental health. Children who are raised in a strict parenting environment may be more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression, as they have been taught to suppress their emotions and to always be compliant. This can lead to difficulty forming relationships, as they may be too afraid to open up to others and be vulnerable.

Children who are raised in a strict parenting environment may also be more likely to suffer from low self-esteem and feelings of worthlessness. This can lead to difficulty forming relationships, as they may feel like they are not “good enough” to be liked or accepted by others. These feelings of worthlessness can also lead to difficulty achieving success, as they may not believe in themselves or their own abilities.

Strategies for Avoiding Strict Parenting Practices

If you are a parent and feel like you are using strict parenting practices…
If you grew up under strict parents and don’t have another model of parenting to go by…
We got you.

There are several strategies you can use to make sure that your child is receiving the appropriate amount of discipline and support. The first step is to get clear on the goals. After reading the effects of strict parenting, I’m sure any strict parent will say that that’s not what they want for their children. So what is it that you want? Instead of compliance, aim for cooperation. Instead of working against your child to force an expectation, work with them through road-blocks. They might surprise you if you give them a chance.

This means it’s an opportunity to focus on communication. Make sure that you are taking the time to listen to your child and understand their needs and feelings. This is especially important if their needs or thoughts differ from your own. This will help to build trust and foster a positive relationship between you and your child.

Finally, boundaries and consequences need to be clear but appropriate – for their age and alligned with their own goals. You have to consider your own unique child to understand if your boundaries are reasonable and the consequences are appropriate. If your child knows you’re attuning to them while holding the boundaries, they feel seen, safe, and secure in their environment.

Bottom line: Don't settle for compliance only!

Parenting can have a long-term effects on a child’s mental and emotional wellbeing. If you grew up from a strict household or if you’re influenced by the short-term compliance gains, it can be easy to become a strict parent and with it, produce the negative effects in your children’s lives.

Being aware of the effects are the first step. I always like to share with parents that you can have the cake and eat it too! You can have a cooperative household and wrap your child up in a safe and secure environment. 

And you don’t have to get it right 100% of the time. You will lose your patience. You will utter threats. The best of us do. It’s about the course we are taking. And you can steer away from strict parenting because you can get all you want (and more) with other approaches like respectful parenting. Download my Ultimate Guide to Respectful Parenting today to get started!

What's next?

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