Motivation and emotion/Book/2014/Parenting styles and adolescent emotion

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Parenting styles and adolescent emotion:
What is the effect of parenting styles on adolescent emotion?


How one raises a child is constantly scrutinized and evolves depending on various factors including upbringing, culture, prior exposure and an individual’s core personality (Darling & Steinberg, 2014). Although there are a number of diverse parenting styles or forms of child rearing enforced within current society based on social theorists, depending on the specific parenting style used it can immensely affect an adolescent and their psychological and emotional state of mind, whether positive or negative (Darling & Steinberg, 2014).

Parenting styles are defined as psychological constructs and depict ways in which an individual chooses to raise a child or group of children. Depending on the individuals temperament including their own childhood and how they we reared, an individual’s prior experiences and culture acts as a guidance for how they will choose to raise one's future offspring (Darling & Steinberg, 2014)[Rewrite to improve clarity]. Therefore depending on an individual’s experiences early in life, thus early on within the developmental stages, it can play an instrumental part in how they then choose to raise a future family and even provide explanations into one's personality and attitude formation (& Steinberg, 2014)[grammar?].

Because however parenting styles can alter within family structures, it can either wreak havoc on an adolescent’s emotional and psychological well-being or it can achieve the opposite desire and set that particular adolescent up for a nurturing, welcoming parental relationship, thus home life (Radziszewska et al., 1996)[grammar?]. Parenting style can either hinder or advance an adolescent later throughout life affecting numerous domains including overall intellect, physical well-being, emotional maturity and so forth (Radziszewska et al., 1996). |}

How do Parenting Styles Emerge?[edit]

Because parenting styles are heavily dependent and swayed through prior experience and exposure, particularly through one's own childhood and form of upbringing, how a parent then chooses to raise his or her family can define the type of parent his or her child will become (Kotchick & Forehand, 2002). Many psychologist[grammar?] currently argue that because we are social beings, the relationships we form early on in life particularly through our primary caregivers ultimately provides the stepping stones for how we choose to form relationships later within life ranging from professional to personal relations (Kotchick & Forehand, 2002). Therefore, depending on our early exposure as a child, if a parent were overly strict and believed in abiding by the rules, yourself as an adult and a parent might too believe in the importance of rules and will then enforce these views and expectations onto your own offspring which eventually forms a continuous cycle within that particular family structure (Kotchick & Forehand, 2002).

Another factor which plays an instrumental role in determining parenting styles include culture differences and common beliefs. For example, a former study founded by Mimi Chang (2007) sought to establish whether there was a clear relationship between Asian American cultural values and its impact on an adolescent’s future parenting style. Because it was suggested that Asian American individuals possess a strong need for family union and independence, it was found that Asian American parents display an authoritarian stance (Chang, 2007). Due to the research supporting the notion that an individual reflects his or her parent’s style of child rearing, it is believed that a percentage of Asian American adolescents will follow that of their parents, thus resulting in enforcing an authoritarian parenting style when raising their future offspring (Chang, 2007) and so forth. Because parenting styles are so dominant and play such a significant role in determining how an individual is shaped, it is clear that it too can influence an adolescent’s emotional well-being (Chang, 2007). In addition other facets of development which can be swayed through the presence of an individual’s parenting style include an adolescent’s mental health, overall intellect, physical well-being, emotional maturity and general social and behavioral skills used daily (Radziszewska et al., 1996).

Because however the family structure plays such an instrumental role in influencing an adolescent’s developmental transitional stage, this particular factor can singularly determine an adolescent’s emotional state of mind, whether positive or negative which can lead to an array of mental health issues seen later within life (Radziszewska et al., 1996).

Parenting Styles and Social Theorists:[edit]

Throughout history there have been numerous theorists which have immensely contributed to our understanding and knowledge of the different types of parenting styles used daily within society (Darling & Steinberg, 2014). Many of these social theorists are still widely regarded and respected within the discipline of psychology as they have assisted in exploring the importance and influence the typed of parenting style enforced upon an offspring has and its lasting psychological and behavioral effects upon the adolescents overall core personality (Darling & Steinberg, 2014).

Social Theorist: John Locke & Jean-Jacques Rousseau[edit]

Within the 17th century, there were two main theorists which dominated the research exploring the topic of child rearing. Both social theorists released publications which recognize the importance and influence that child rearing plays in determining future attributes of that particular offspring. John Locke's book, Some Thoughts Concerning Education published in 1693 established the importance of an adolescents experiences early on in life which significantly alters a child's early development (Holl, 2014). From this, Jean-Jacques Rousseau also released a publication named On Education within 1762 (Anderson, 2014). Unlike Locke however, Rousseau believed in simplicity parenting also known as slow parenting and proposed that children should also gain the majority of their education through life experience rather than solely written education (Anderson, 2014).

Social Theorist: Jean Piaget[edit]

Another influential theorists whom proposed a theory which consists of several developmental stages is Jean Piaget. Known as a pioneer within the growing field of child development, Piaget offers a theory of cognitive development (Mayer, 2005). Within Piaget's proposed developmental theory, Piaget concludes that there are in total four developmental stages including Sensorimotor stage, Pre-Operational stage , Concrete Operational stage and Formal Operational stage of parenting (Mayer, 2005). All four of these stages are still widely regarded and accepted by many social theorists particularly within the field of psychology applicable to child rearing (Mayer, 2005).

Social Theorist: Erik Erikson[edit]

In addition to Piaget, Erik Erikson also explored the field of child development but believed that for children in order to successfully develop, they must first complete a series of eight life stages in which a crisis is involved and therefore must be overcome (Wallerstein & Goldberger, 2000). Known as a developmental psychologist, Erikson concluded that in order to grow, a child must overcome an obstacle or dilemma followed by a resolution which results in transitioning to the next stage (Wallerstein & Goldberger, 2000). If a stage is left unresolved it ultimately means an individual cannot progress, therefore will not develop in accordance with the theory outlined by Erikson (Wallerstein & Goldberger, 2000). Because several of the stages occur during childhood and into adolescents, Erikson believed that according to the stage a child is currently at crisis with, a parent may adopt a different parenting style or alternate between two to assist one's offspring in resolving the present crisis thus forming a resolution (Wallerstein & Goldberger, 2000). The eight stages outlined by Erikson include Hopes (Trust vs. Mistrust), Will (Autonomy vs. Shame & Doubt), Purpose (Initiative vs. Guilt), Competence (Industry vs. Inferiority), Fidelity (Identity vs. Role Confusion), Love (Intimacy vs. Isolation), Care (Generativity vs. Stagnation) and Wisdom (Ego Integrity vs. Despair) (Wallerstein & Goldberger, 2000). From Erikson, parents can learn to adapt their own parenting style in order to assist a child reach all eight life stages, or in comparison can ultimately hinder one's child through adopting a harmful style of parenting (Wallerstein & Goldberger, 2000).

Social Theorist: Frank Furedi[edit]

The next theorists which contributed to the area of child rearing is Frank Furedi who was a sociologist and paid particular attention to family structures. Furedi proposed that unlike previous research, the actions displayed by parents towards their offspring has a minimal effect on the child more so then previously thought (Darling & Steinberg, 2014). Therefore, Furedi believed that the actions committed by parents play a much more insignificant role in determining a child's emotions which suggests that a child or adolescent is primarily responsible for his or her emotional development and actions rather than solely a parents input (Darling & Steinberg, 2014).

Social Theorist: Diana Baumrind[edit]

Arguably one of the most influential social theorists contributing to the field of child rearing is Diana Baumrind who classified parenting styles into three main categories (Smetana, 2011). Known as "Baumrind's Parenting Typology", Baumrind established three dominant categories (1971, 1991) consisting of Authoratative parenting, Authoritarian parenting and Permissive parenting (Smetana, 2011). Authoritative parenting is classified as parents who hold high expectations and demands from their offspring but also display characteristics of warmth and empathy (Smetana, 2011). Authoritarian parents share similar attributes to that of Authoritative parenting in the regard that they too have high standards and expectations, but unlike Authoritative parents, Authoritarian parents show little to no compassion (Smetana, 2011). Permissive parenting on the other hand is marked by no level of expectation and discipline but display a high level or warmth and affection (Smetana, 2011).

Additional Theorist of Child Rearing[edit]

In addition to the numerous social theorists and developmental theories mentioned above regarding child rearing, there are in fact countless other social theories which are widely used in regards to classifying and determining parenting styles including demanding and undemanding, attachment parenting, narcissistic parenting, nurturing parenting, over parenting, positive parenting, slow parenting, toxic parenting and so forth (Smetana, 2011).

Theories of Emotion:[edit]

Within all facets of society, an individual’s emotional development plays a large role in determining one's core personality as well as assists with decision making and other daily processes (Heiy & Cheavens, 2014). In relation to how parenting styles affect adolescent emotion, there are numerous theories of emotion applicable to explaining the relationship between child rearing and its psychological effect on an adolescent’s emotional state and general well-being (Heiy & Cheavens, 2014). These theories of emotion include the James-Lange theory of emotion (Irons, 2014), the Cannon-Bard theory of emotion (Irons, 2014) and the Schachter-Singer theory of emotion (Irons, 2014). Because all three of these psychological theories can be grouped into three main categories; cognitive, psychological and neurological, it is evident that the importance of emotion is present within all aspects of our being ranging from the chemical process of the brain to an individual’s personal thoughts, embedded beliefs and general mental activity (Irons, 2014).

Theory of Emotion: James-Lange Theory of Emotion[edit]

The James-Lange Theory of Emotion is the most respected and regarded psychological theory in relation to emotional development as it indicates that emotion is formed through our psychological reactions to experiences (Irons, 2014). Developed by psychologists William James and Carl Lange, they believed that depending on an external event, object or stimulus, it creates an internal psychological reaction which can be classified as either positive or negative (Irons, 2014). Depending on the individual’s reaction, it causes an internal emotional reaction to the event or stimulus based on one's interpretation (Irons, 2014).

Theory of Emotion: Cannon-Bard Theory of Emotion[edit]

The Cannon-Bard Theory of Emotion also suggests that emotion and psychological reactions are intertwined (Irons, 2014). This specific theory however concludes that when we experience psychological reactions from a stimulus for instance muscle tension and the change of temperature radiating from our body, we simultaneously feel our emotions which can be interpreted as either pleasant or unpleasant (Irons, 2014).

Theory of Emotion: Schachter-Singer Theory of Emotion[edit]

The final theory of emotion still widely used within society is the Schachter-Singer Theory of emotion (Irons, 2014). Developed by Schachter and Singer in 1962 this cognitive approach theory states that a psychological reaction primarily occurs, followed by the individual acknowledging the reasons as to why the arousal took place (Irons, 2014). Once the reason behind the reaction is acknowledged, it then allows the individual to identify or label the current emotion to the specific reaction (Irons, 2014).

What is Adolescents?[edit]

An adolescent can be defined as a teenager aged between 13 to 19 years which is also seen as the transitional stage between childhood into adulthood (Sawyer et al., 2012). Because during this stage of development various physical and psychological changes occur, many believe that the term 'adolescent' can begin even earlier than that of 13 (Sawyer et al., 2012). Psychologists now suggest that due to an individual’s physical and psychological progression, their rate of change can begin prematurely particularly between the ages of 9 and 12 (Sawyer et al., 2012). Therefore, although the term 'adolescent' is generally believed to begin from the common age of 13, many are suggesting that it in fact begins earlier depending on the individual or adolescent in question (Sawyer et al., 2012).

Emotional and Psychological Changes within an Adolescent Brain:[edit]

Throughout an adolescent’s progression between childhood into adulthood, many factors are called into question and examined by an adolescent. Particular areas of crisis which arise include questioning one's own identity, place within society and also brings about confusion relating to social groups, sexuality, drugs and so forth (Sawyer et al., 2012). Because adolescents experience such intense emotions, it alters their mood and creates a roller coaster of constant highs and lows (Sawyer et al., 2012). Ways in which an adolescent’s emotional state differs from any other developmental stage includes heightened levels of sensitivity, unpredictable moods and also displaying what is known as a 'bulletproof' stage (Sawyer et al., 2012).

In addition, because an adolescent’s brain is under vast developmental changes, the ways in which adolescents perceive and react to their emotions alter as well. Within an adolescent’s development, the brain undergoes a growth spurt particularly within the frontal lobe region (Lindquist et al., 2012). Because this area of the brain is responsible for an individual’s reasoning capabilities and impulse control, it again can affect an adolescent’s emotional state of mind in regards to how they choose to respond to an event or stimulus (Lindquist et al., 2012). As well as the frontal lobe, the limbic system in addition undergoes vast change which is primarily responsible for our emotions (Lindquist et al., 2012). Because adolescents simply are without the more primitive limbic system which is used to overrule our initial limbic responses, adolescents as a result choose to use an underdeveloped system which results in a more impulsive response when both interpreting and reacting to present emotions (Lindquist et al., 2012). Therefore, because of the neurological changes occurring within the brain, it can not only alter an individual’s emotional response, but can also bring about emotions which are usually not present including depression (Lindquist et al., 2012).

Though a teens experience is often regarded as stressful and a time of anxiousness, it is also the slow but necessary progression into adulthood (Sawyer et al., 2012). Ways in which an adolescent forms their attitude through this transitional stage can again be heavily swayed through the support or lack of given by one's own parents (Sawyer et al., 2012).

Common Mental Disorders Displayed within Adolescents:[edit]

Common mental health disorders present in adolescents can range in severity. Several mental disorders which are most common within this particular developmental period includes Anxiety Disorders, Psychotic Disorders, Mood Disorders, Eating Disorders, Personality Disorders, Behavioral Disorders, Addiction and so forth (Merikangas et al., 2010). Depression in particular can be typically diagnosed in a teen as it is a mood disorder which intensifies negative or depressive symptoms (Merikangas et al., 2010). Because it is such a consuming illness, it affects all facets of an individual’s life including attitudes towards schooling, peer groups as well as one's home life (Merikangas et al., 2010). Because depression is a result of a disruption in the brain circuits which are responsible for emotional regulation, it can be typically heightened or triggered by authoritarian parents (Sharma et al., 2011). During a recent study Sharma et al., (2011) explored the correlation between several parenting styles and its association with depression within adolescents. The results from the study found that Authoritarian parents did in fact contribute to an adolescent’s level of depression whereas Permissive parenting styles showed a decrease or negative correlation with depression (Sharma et al., 2011).

How Parenting Styles can Influence an Adolescents Emotional Well-Being:[edit]

Prior research investigating the apparent link between an adolescent’s emotional well-being and its relation to the type of parenting style used is not only extensive, but also essential in explaining a child’s attitude formation and emotional regulation. Depending on a child’s relationship or lack of with their primary caregiver, the parent can ultimately influence numerous aspects of a child’s personality particularly that of emotional development[factual?].

Bandura concluded that offspring raised within an authoritarian home style environment were more susceptible to stress, mood swings and displayed heightened emotions to hostility (Smetana, 2011). In addition they were also less positive in comparison to children raised within an authoritative or permissive parental style home environment (Smetana, 2011). Authoritative parenting unlike authoritarian parenting however results in children with heightened self-esteem as well as a sense of independence through the constant give-take relationship with one’s primary caregiver. Permissive parents also develop a healthy relation with their child, however due to the lack of structure and discipline given it can lead to the child engaging in acts of misconduct as they tend to act on their emotions impulsively resulting in displaying a bulletproof stage (Smetana, 2011). During this stage adolescents are more likely to commit actions which are seen as high risk both emotionally and physically. This may lead to recklessness and even to heightened levels of drug use (Smetana, 2011). However, although very few rules are put in place by the parent, Bandura (Smetana, 2011) suggests that it can also result in the child maturing at a quicker rate then both authoritative and authoritarian parenting styles as the child learns independence and can become emotionally secure within one’s own environment particularly within social institutions (Smetana, 2011).

Research which explores the emotional impact of parenting styles or forms of child rearing on adolescents includes controlled experimental studies founded by Chen (2014) whom studies the correlation between parenting styles, enforced beliefs and overall life satisfaction seen within adolescent students. During this particular study, Chen (2014) concluded that students exposed to an authoritative form of child rearing will share their parent’s beliefs and attitudes and as a result will show heightened levels of life satisfaction including emotional stability. Authoritarian parenting however resulted in an adolescent student sharing their parent’s beliefs but having low levels of overall life satisfaction, therefore lacking emotional stability and regulation (Chen, 2014).

Another study which examined the relationship between harsh parenting and cognitive reactivity seen within adolescents is Cole et al. (2014). During this study experimenters found that harsh parenting contributed to an adolescent’s rate of cognitive reactivity and triggered symptoms of heightened depression (Cole et al., 2014). Another study which supports the findings made by Cole et al.(2014) is one conducted by Fam (2003) whom also suggest that harsh parenting directly and indirectly affects and influences a child’s level of aggression seen within a schooling environment, therefore altering their emotional regulation (Fam, 2003).


As demonstrated within current research examining the overall effect of emotional stability seen within adolescents and its relationship with different forms of child rearing, it is evident that parenting styles do heavily influence all aspects of a child’s development. Though there are numerous facets which influence the form of parenting style used including culture, an individual's early life experiences with their own care giver can also determine which style a parent will choose to enforce when raising a child.

The evidence gathered in relation to the harmful effects of a specific parenting style used can not only be beneficial in assisting children with emotional and psychological development, but it can also provide an explanation into children showing concerning or troubled behavior and from this assistance can be given to an individual, particularly an adolescent.

See also[edit]


Anderson, L. (2014). Review of 'The Educational Theory of Jean Jacques Rousseau'. EBSCO HOST, 3(9), 531-533). doi: 10.1037/h0068768.

Chang, M. (2007). Cultural Differences in Parenting Styles and Their Effect on Teen's Self-Esteem, Perceived Parental Relationship Satisfaction, and Self Satisfaction (Dietrich College Honors Theses, Carnegie Mellon University, America). Retrieved from

Chen, W. (2014). The Relationship between Perceived Parenting Style, Filial Piety, and Life Satisfaction in Hong Kong. EBSCO HOST, 28(3), 308-314. doi: 10.1037/a003681.

Cole, D., Martin, N., Sterba, S., Sinclair-McBride, K., Roeder, K., Zelkowitz, R., & Bilsky, S. (2014). Peer Victimization (and Harsh Parenting) as Developmental Correlates of Cognitive Reactivity, a Diathesis for Depression. EBSCO HOST, 123(2), 336-349. doi: 10.1037/a0036489.

Darling, N., & Steinberg, L. (2014). Parenting Styles as Context: An Integrative Model. American Psychological Association, 113(3), 487-496. Retrieved from

Fam, J. (2003). Harsh Parenting in Relation to Child Emotion Regulation and Aggression. Journal of Family Psychology, 17(4), 598-606. Retrieved from

Harris, J. (1995). Where is the Childs Environment? A Group Socialization Theory of Development. EBSCO HOST, 102(3), 458-489. doi: 10.1037/0033-295X.102.3.458.

Heiy, J., & Cheavens, J. (2014). Back to Basics: A Naturalistic Assessment of the Experience and Regulation of Emotion. EBSCO HOST, 14(5), 878-891. doi: 10.1037/a0037231.

Holl, R. (2014). Review of 'John Locke and Formal Discipline'. EBSCO HOST, 3(1), 46-47. doi: 10.1037/h0066781.

Irons, D. (2014). Discussion: Recent Development in Theory of Emotion. EBSCO HOST, 2(3), 279-284. doi: 10.1037/h0072454.

Kotchick, B., & Forehand, R. (2002). Putting Parenting in Perspective: A Discussion of the Contextual Factors That Shape Parenting Practices. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 11(3), 255-269. Retrieved from

Lindquist, K., Wager, T., Kober, H., Bliss-Moreua, E., & Barrett, L. (2012). The Brain Basis of Emotion: A Meta-Analytic Review. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 35(3), 121-143. doi: 10.1017/S0140525X11000446.

Mayer, S. (2005). The Early Evolution of Jean Piaget's Clinical Method. EBSCO HOST, 8(4), 362-382. doi: 10.1037/1093-4510.8.4.362.

Merikangas, K., He, J., Burstein, M., Swanson, S., Avenevoli, S., Cui, L., Benjet, C., & Swendsen, J. (2010). Lifetime Prevalence of Mental Disorders in U.S. Adolescents. ScienceDirect, 49(10). 980-989. doi: 10.1016/j.jaac.2010.05.017.

Radziszewska, B., Richardson, J., Dent, C., & Flay, B. (1996). Parenting Styles and Adolescent Depressive Symptoms, Smoking and Academic Achievement: Ethnic, Gender and SES Differences. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 19(3), 289-305. Retrieved from

Sawyer, S., Afifi, R., Bearinger, L., Blakemore, S., Dick, B., Ezeh. A., & Patton, G. (2012). Adolescent: A Foundation for Future Health. ScienceDirect, 379, 1630-1640. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(12)60072-5.

Sharma, M., Sharma, N., & Yadava, A. (2011). Parental Styles and Depression among Adolescents. Applied Psychology, 37(1), 60-68. Retrieved from

Smetana, J. (2011). Parenting Styles and Practices. Wiley Online Library, 32, 324-351. doi: 10.1002/9781444390896.ch10.

Wallerstein, R., & Goldberger, L. (2000). Ideas and Identities: The Life Work of Erik Erikson. EBSCO HOST, 17(2), 437-442. doi: 10.1037/0736-9735.17.2.437.

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