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Authoritative and Democratic Parenting Programs
(Comparison Chart)

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The Big Answer


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Every Parent: A positive approach to children’s behaviour: Triple P (Positive Parenting Program)

a book by Matthew Sanders

(our site's book review)

Like with Parenting with Love and Logic, with Triple P the parents are in control; they set the rules and enforce them. However, the book has several positive features, such as helping parents learn to teach children self-control, how to follow rules, behave acceptably and respect others. Also good is creating a safe, secure, engaging environment, i.e., one containing interesting, amusing, and purposeful activities. Also good is fostering a positive learning environment, such as giving kids recognition, encouragement, and acknowledgment. The method stresses that taking care of oneself as a parent, i.e., eating well, getting enough exercise and sleep, etc., is important to be a good parent.

Parents are taught how to apply appropriate logical consequences so that children learn to accept responsibility for their own behavior. This is good if it uses only the minimal amount of power needed, and there is a direct cause-and-effect relationship between two events the child can easily understand and feels is fair—ideally the child problem-solves with the parent and they come up with the logical consequence together or in a family meeting, but that is not too likely in this parenting method. Giving choices is a benefit to this process. Learning is the point, not punishment. It's logical for a kid to earn money to pay for something he broke. It's not punishment. It's connected, fair, and logical.

Using rewards and praise (when children “behave”) is one of the bad ideas in Triple P. Triple P is another one of those autocratic methods bound to confuse parents since it has some good ideas mixed up with some bad ones. Using assertive discipline; dealing with disobedience and misbehavior quickly, decisively and consistently by use of parental power has the goal of stopping misbehavior and getting compliance. Parents set rules and enforce them, claiming it isn't punishment, it's "assertive discipline." All this autocratic discipline smacks too much of authoritarianism, which has been proven to be a flawed parenting method. See Discipline That Works.

Rewards and praise and making behavior charts that get gold stars and smiley faces put on them as rewards are all taken from the behaviorists' playbook. They are—unfortunately—a great, effective way to teach kids to be both strongly inner-directed (first) and then other-directed (second) NEITHER of which empowers autonomy. Inner-directed happens as kids incorporate parents' values, threats, punishments, guilt trips, and general discipline tenets into their superegos. This all tends to form kids' locus of control outside the kids' selves.

Praise is a bad way of instilling self-esteem—it  produces not self-esteem but dependency; verbally encouraging is bad for kids if it is done with You statements but good for kids if it is done with I statements ('I'm wondering how you felt when you drew that' or 'I appreciate it when you help with dishes')
Praise is a bad way of instilling self-esteem—it produces not self-esteem but dependency; verbally encouraging is bad for kids if it is done with You statements but good for kids if it is done with I statements ("I'm wondering how you felt when you drew that" or "I appreciate it when you help with dishes")

The other-directedness will occur once kids are in school and with friends and exposed to media influences (see Your Children Are Under Attack).The kids' behavior had been guided by the internalized parents (the superego), but amongst peers they're exposed to peer pressures. They'd be able to resist it had they been parented with such methods as P.E.T. or Unconditional Parenting, both authoritative, and both supporting autonomy, not other-directedness. But Triple P is autocratic and kids are at effect of parental power. Then, around friends, peer pressure becomes the newest power they become at effect of. So you can see how the authoritarianism in this method backfires.

Note: The decisive factor in Triple P is parental, autocratic power. Parents are in control in this Triple P parenting method so it overdevelops kids' approval orientation way beyond what is necessary or appropriate. It is normal for inner-directed forces of the parentally caused superego-conscience to be part of children's inner experiences starting between 3 and 5 years of age. Kids need to learn self-control, and parental examples of parents' own self-control are not just examples to emulate but also examples to incorporate inductively as the kids' own. But too much approval seeking alienates kids from their own feelings at a time when they need encouragement for these feelings, not distractions from these feelings. Very young children need to be loved for who they are more than they need to be controlled.

So the locus of control will be internal and it will create security in the kids as they learn self-control and feel at cause, IF love and feelings encouragement far outweigh parental attempts to control the kids. In a truly nurturing environment like with P.E.T., parents use influence, not control, and there is no use of parental power because relationships are democratic, not autocratic. So kids' need for superegos are very temporary—a quick crutch as autonomy develops and the kids become SELF-directed, and they feel at cause as well as be at cause. The unfair power dynamics in autocratic parenting slow down or even prevent autonomy development, which is why all autocratic parenting methods are to be avoided. Instead, use Authoritative and Democratic Parenting Programs.

(An internal locus of control equates to being and feeling at cause and an external locus of control equates to being and feeling at effect of others, often consciously felt to be "fate." Too much controlling by parents not only feels like being at effect, the kids are at effect—of parental power. Only autonomy will empower BEING at cause. All this is Maslow's "being" psychology, and so is: "Encouragement of autonomy supports internal locus of control, and . . . support and warmth provide children with a sense of security which let them explore their environment, and as a consequence by offering them more opportunities to learn associations between their behaviors and outcomes, internal locus of control can be developed and generalized." [Source: Carton, J. S., & Nowicki, S.J.R. (1994). "Antecedents of individual differences in locus of control of reinforcement: A critical review." Genetic, Social, and General Psychology Monographs, 120, 31-81.])

Authoritative parenting has been shown to be the best parenting style for encouraging autonomy, success, social skills, and an internal locus of control, since kid power is encouraged and empowered while parent power is not used to control kids, but to show good examples to emulate. On the other hand, when kids are controlled by parents in order to get obedience and compliance, as with the authoritarian parenting method Triple P, kids tend to get an external locus of control in which they not only feel at effect but begin to feel helpless and like the actions they perform are irrelevant and seem to be controlled by "fate" (in truth, fate is "parents" in disguise).


Like with Parenting with Love and Logic, the goal of Triple P discipline is to get kids to obey. Oops. Perhaps parents that want creatures to obey them should purchase dogs and train them well as opposed to having children.

Perhaps parents that want creatures to obey them should purchase dogs and train them well as opposed to having children
Perhaps parents that want creatures to obey them should purchase dogs and train them well as opposed to having children

For other study results involving the comparison of authoritative parenting and other types of parenting styles, see these authors on our website: Gauvain, Baumrind, Maccoby, Lewis, Aunola, Brassington, Hill, Larzelere, Shucksmith, Chao, Ramsey, Strage, Peterson, Fletcher, Gray, Steinberg, Lamborn, Society for the Advancement of Education, Johnson Publishing Company Inc., Berg, Snowden, McIntyre, and Slicker.

Then see our comments on books and/or articles by these authors: Lakoff, Gould, Pugh, Critzer, Popkin, Dinkmeyer, Gordon, Faber, Dreikurs, Solter, Prinz, Kvols, and Nelsen, keeping in mind that this is just the first author listed—many works have more authors and these are listed as well in each of our references.

Next, check out the real courses (begin with Internet searches) that teach various forms of authoritative and democratic parenting, like P.E.T., STEP (Systematic Training for Effective Parenting), Winning Family Lifeskills, Positive Discipline, Redirecting Children’s Behavior, and Positive Parenting, the Ginott method (see our comments on the Faber and Mazlish book Liberated Parents Liberated Children), Dreikur’s democratic parenting (see our comments on his Happy Children book), and Active Parenting.

Finally, it should be noted that parents can influence children's intellectual development—and other types of development as well (e.g., Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ). See Parenting the Young Gifted Child: Supportive Behaviors, Impact of Parenting Practices on Adolescent Achievement, Over Time Changes in Adjustment and Competence Among Adolescents from Authoritative, Authoritarian, Indulgent, and Neglectful Families, Parenting Styles and Adolescent Development, Parenting Styles and Adolescents' Achievement Strategies, Patterns of Competence and Adjustment Among Adolescents from Authoritative, Authoritarian, Indulgent, and Neglectful Families, Discipline That Works, Social Development: Psychological Growth And The Parent-Child Relationship, Toward a Psychology of Being, The Relation of Parenting Style to Adolescent School Performance, Unpacking Authoritative Parenting: Reassessing a Multidimensional Construct, and Quality Day Care, Early, Is Tied to Achievements as an Adult.