The 4 Parenting Styles

By Amanda Linan

What Style Are You?

Research indicates that there are four parenting styles into which most people would fall. Parents can be good, loving parents no matter what style they use! The research does show that children who are parented using the Emotion Coaching style have far better outcomes even later in life. Most parents worry about being the best parents possible, so learning more about where you fall now and if and how you can adjust your technique can be a powerful tool to be that best parent you can be.

Emotion Dismissing

These parents see their children’s emotions as trivial, unimportant. They disengage from or ignore feelings and let “time heal all wounds” rather than acknowledge or help solve the problem. These parents often find emotions uncomfortable in general. Some examples of emotion dismissing phrases are:

  • “Cheer up.”
  • “It’s not so bad.”
  • “It’s going to be okay.”
  • “Knock it off.”
  • “That’s not scary.”
  • “That doesn’t hurt.”

Emotion Disapproving

Similar to dismissing, but there is more judgement or criticizing of emotions. They may feel that obedience and good behavior are the most important features for their child. Negative emotions should be controlled, negative emotions are bad or destructive. Emotions, or showing them, make people weak. Some examples of emotion disapproving include:

  • “You think you’re sad now?”
  • “I’ll give you something to be sad about.”
  • “Get away!”
  • “Go to your room until you’re done with this nonsense.”


Accepts all emotions from their child with little guidance on behavior. No limits are set, just ride out negative emotions. No help with problem solving, just release the emotion and it’s done and we can move on then. Some examples of Laissez-faire parenting are:

  • “I’ll be in the kitchen when you’re done with your tantrum.”
  • “I’ll buy you the toy if it means you’ll stop crying.”

Emotion Coaching

All emotions are ok and normal, but not all behavior is ok. Emotion Coaching parents recognize that emotions are important and use them as an opportunity to connect with their child. They join with their child’s feelings, offer gentle guidance, and set limits and boundaries. Some examples of emotion coaching are:

  • “I can see you’re very frustrated right now.”
  • “I don’t like feeling frustrated either.”
  • “When you’re frustrated you need to take a break, not throw your toys.”
  • Let’s take a break to calm down now and we can talk after.”

Emotion coaching is not about fixing bad parents.

It’s about taking good parents to the next level by understanding their strengths and weaknesses and giving them the tools they need to succeed.

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  • The 4 Common Parenting Mistakes
  • Parenting Behaviors to Build Connection with Your Child
Source: The Gottman Institute