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Research shows that most people think strict parenting produces better-behaved kids. However, research studies on discipline consistently show that strict, or authoritarian, child-raising actually produces kids with lower self esteem who behave worse than other kids — and therefore get punished more! Strict parenting actually creates behavior problems in children. Why?

1. Strict parenting deprives kids of the opportunity to internalize self-discipline and responsibility.

Harsh limits may temporarily control behavior, but they don’t help a child learn to self-regulate. Instead, harsh limits trigger a resistance to taking responsibility for themselves. There is no internal tool more valuable for kids than self-discipline, but it develops from the internalization of loving limits. No one likes to be controlled, so it’s not surprising that kids reject limits that aren’t empathic. They see the “locus of control” outside of themselves, rather than WANTING to behave.

2. Authoritarian parenting — limits without empathy — is based on fear. It teaches kids to bully.

Kids learn what they live and what you model, right? Well, if kids do what you want because they fear you, how is that different than bullying? If you yell, they’ll yell. If you use force, they’ll use force.

3. Kids raised with punitive discipline have tendencies toward anger and depression.

That’s because authoritarian child raising makes it clear to kids that part of them is not acceptable, and that parents aren’t there to help them learn to cope and manage those difficult feelings that drive them to act out. They’re left lonely, trying to sort out for themselves how to overcome their “lesser” impulses.

4. Kids raised with strict discipline learn that power is always right.

They learn to obey, but they don’t learn to think for themselves. Later in life, they won’t question authority when they should. They’re less likely to take responsibility for their actions and more willing to follow the peer group, or to dodge responsibility by saying that they were only trying to “follow orders.”

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What’s Wrong with Strict Parenting?