Stricter Parents Lead to Sneakier Kids

Annalee Gorman, Mirada Staff

Parents forcing kids to stay home on Friday nights, tracking locations, and setting harsh rules have proven to have the opposite effect on obedient teen behavior than expected. Research shows strict parenting leads to sneakier kids with a lower self esteem.

According to Aha Parenting, kids raised with strict rules tend to be more rebellious, and better liars.

“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,” said Dr. Laura Markham of Aha Parenting.

A study conducted by Rick Trinkner analyzed data from the New Hampshire Youth Study of middle and high school students showed that overly authoritative parents show less warmth than permissive parents. However, overly permissive parents have negative effects as well.

“I feel that parents should be less strict. Parents need to understand that they need to trust their child and let them go out and have fun. Unless something bad happens to them, I think parents should be less strict.” – Maci Marie (9)

“The best approach, from my perspective, is to be an authoritative parent. This means have discipline and standards for behavior and also showing warmth and also being receptive to a child’s needs,” said Trinkner.

One survey of 110 juniors and seniors in North America reported 55 students admitted to sneaking out.

A 16 year-old from Rio said, “My mom doesn’t trust me to go anywhere even though I am a responsible student. I can’t fully experience high school because of this.”

Dr. Lynn E. Ponton believes it’s normal, or even healthy for teenagers to take risks and become independent…to a point. However, constant risks without limits proves to be dangerous.

“A formula of peer pressure, boredom, unchanneled energy, and some other catalyst[…] can lead teens to take the wrong risks,” said Teen Magazine.

The unchanneled energy and miscommunication inhibits teens’ ability to reason. Parents who don’t take the time to talk with their kids also risk poor relationships with their kid.

Positive Parenting Ally said suppressing your teen’s voice and the ability to express their emotions is detrimental to their mental health. For example, teens could become stressed from tip-toeing around and worrying about being judged for their actions. Additionally, it creates a risk of self-shame and thinking they’re disappointing their parents when punished.

A child’s development of self-esteem and discipline is interfered by overly strict parents, according to psychologist Laura Markham of Aha! Parenting. Constantly managing a child’s schedule potentially gives them the feeling of lack of control and thus lowering their self-esteem.

Chea Thavy, a social worker for People Improvement Organization said: .” communicating with [children] in a gentle way, [they] would be more likely to consider their actions and learn the pros and cons of the things they do.”

Another anonymous student reported that: “My parents don’t listen to me when I explain where I want to go and it has gotten to the point where I don’t bother asking because I already know I won’t be allowed to go.”

Thavy also explained that some parents, due to work, can’t spend lots of time with their child at home resulting in the parent unintentionally blaming their kid. Communication is important to relate feelings of both the parents and the kids to understand their reasoning.“Children should have the opportunity to explain where they are coming from,” said Trinkner. Studies show communication and openness is key in parent-child relationships to make it stronger and avoid miscommunication.


“Teens are allowed to have fun, it’s part of the learning cause it’s part of life, parents shouldn’t be the ones taking them away from good opportunities to learn what not to do.” -Maddie Bister (9)