Consider the following scenario:

A child and his parents are at a toy store. The child demands a particular toy. The parents, knowing it is not of value or need, refuse, resulting in the child throwing a tantrum.

How will different parenting styles respond to the situation?

Sarah Rogers, founder, owner and CEO Quest Direct Professional Services, however clarifies that the comparative styles are meant purely to offer an insight into the different approaches.

“While every situation is unique and we should not judge others’ parenting skills on one isolated occasion, the answers given to the above scenario would probably be similar if we asked any group of people,” says Rogers.

“Research has shown that while there is no such thing as perfect parenting, a consistent fair and firm parenting style that is applied by all the people who parent the child (including family members and other adults who look after the child) is highly beneficial,” says Rogers.

Here are the possible responses of different parenting styles, according to Rogers:

1) Tiger parent: Follows a strict and demanding style of parenting.

They might be expected to shout at the child or punish them in some way, giving little or no explanation as to why the child could not have the toy.

2) Snowplough or Lawnmower parent: Who takes obstacles out of the child’s way to make life easier for them.

These parents may give in to the child if simple explanations did not stop the tantrum or leave the other parent to deal with the situation.

3) Helicopter parent: they think they are being supportive as they hover anxiously over the child making life easier for them.

As in the example No 2.

4) The Free-range parent: Encourages the child to function independently and with a limited amount of parental supervision, taking into consideration the age and developmental stage of the child, allowing them to take reasonable risks as they learn by experience.

Free-range parent will probably have considered the possibility of the scenario before the shop had been entered, will have explained to the child what their expectations are before they left home. Perhaps they have given the child some ‘pocket money’ with which the child could learn to make decisions about what they could buy. In this way the child would have been encouraged to make choices based on consequences (once the money has been spent there is no more till next month), therefore the child would consider if it was a wise purchase to make, supported their parent discussing the options.

In this way, the [tantrum] is more unlikely to happen in the first place. This parenting style is more in line with an authoritative style, one which teaches the child to be considerate by putting reasonable boundaries in place supporting the stages of development with prompts and discussions, encouraging the child to take responsibility for their own actions promoting learning and development.


A parenting style that puts in boundaries but gives a child reasonable choices, listens to the child and respects their wishes while making clear rules are for the benefit of all, is best.

A parenting style that shares with the child reasons for decisions and that we all make mistakes but hopefully learn from them, will reap the benefits in the long term and is more likely to lead to those desirable adult traits.