What Is Coercive Parenting?

January 6, 2022

Coercive parenting is the use of severe parental conduct, such as beating, screaming, scolding, threatening, rejecting, and psychological control, to compel a child's compliance. In addition, these parents utilize frequent harsh orders, derogatory language, overt displays of rage, and physical assault. Authoritarian parents are coercive parents. They are obtrusive, overbearing, and assume superior authority over the youngster. Typically, the compulsion is arbitrary, insistent, and dominant.

In general, coercive parents are more concerned with maintaining status distinctions than with policing their children's conduct.

This type of parenting is distinct from authoritative parenting, which demands conformity via argument, negotiation, and an outcome-focused approach. An authoritative parent is more concerned with managing a child's conduct than constructing a status hierarchy.

Parenting via coercion is inflexible and inconsistent. It may appear paradoxical, yet forceful parents exhibit both rigidity and inconsistency.

Inconsistently, coercive parents respond to children's disobedience, but once they do, they are more likely to repeat inflexible orders with authority assertion.

How Does Coercive Parenting Affect Kids

Compliance is one of the key disciplinary aims of many parents. Parents influence compliance by teaching their children prosocial behaviors (i.e., what to do and how to do it) and by establishing appropriate limits.

Parents use a variety of parenting strategies to achieve this objective, but not all achieve the desired results.

Parents who are responsive, loving, and consistent encourage their children's cooperation. These parents are more likely to achieve compliance from their children.

Coercive parents produce unwarranted resistance, which results in rebellious conduct rather than obedience.

These early experiences can set the foundation for subsequent development, leading to permanent changes in physiology, brain function, and behavior.

Harsh parenting inhibits the emotional control and prosocial development of children.

Coaching and modeling by parents teach youngsters how to control unpleasant emotions, self-soothe, and focus. However, parents who express negative, harmful, and aggressive emotions on a regular basis may model dysregulated behavior to their children.

Parental coercion is a powerful predictor of hostility in preschoolers. When toddlers display violent behavior, they run the risk of developing antisocial behavior, conduct disorder, and Oppositional Defiance Disorder in the future.  Children who were raised with severe parenting are also at risk for delinquency in adolescence and criminal conduct as adults, according to a study published in the journal Child Development.

Coercion also causes mental health issues, such as depression and alcoholism, later in life.

One sort of coercion, corporal punishment, has been linked to numerous negative long-term impacts on children's psychological development, including depression and suicidal thoughts in adulthood, and eventually physical abuse of their own children.

Not only is coercive parenting unsuccessful, but it is also damaging to the child's early brain development and long-term effects.

An adult who grew up with forceful parenting is more likely to face work-related challenges, difficulty sustaining personal relationships, social problems, and decreased odds of attaining a higher-level career or better income.

Annie Archibald has a PhD in Family Studies from York and has taught in universities for decades. Along with her professional career, she also is a mother of five and now a grandmother to two loving boys.

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