Child, Parenting

The autocratic upbringing style – no chance for self-realization of the child

The autocratic upbringing style

The autocratic parenting style is a term from parenting style research coined by the sociologist and psychologist Glen H. Elder. In 1962, Elder had supplemented the three parenting styles of authoritarian, democratic, and laissez-faire introduced by Kurt Lewin with four others: autocratic, egalitarian, permissive, and negating.

Autocratic Parenting Style – What is it?

As a synonym for autocratic, the Duden calls the value autocratic, which in a way already explains this style of upbringing.
The autocratic parenting style can be seen as a heightened form of authoritarian parenting. It is based on the idea that it is imperative to exercise authority over children. The children are not seen as equal partners and have no say in decisions. Your opinion, concerns and interests do not count in any way, only what the educator as the authority figure determines applies. The autocratic parenting style is designed for unconditional obedience and discipline.

Criteria of an autocratic parenting style at a glance:

  • the educator alone determines all of the child’s activities and sets the rules
  • compliance with the rules is strictly monitored by the educator
  • The tools of education are punishment, intimidation and threats
  • if the rules are followed, the parent behaves in a friendly but reserved manner
  • It is based on obedience and blind acceptance


The autocratic upbringing style in the family

Parents who bring up their child in an autocratic style usually set fixed rules that the child has to follow without being asked and which are not explained.
This nips any initiative in the bud. The child is not given its own freedom of action and cannot develop freely. If the rules set by the parents are not observed, the child must expect consequences. Most often these are penalties that are not explained and may not even be related to the misconduct. This is the case, for example, if the child is banned from watching TV because they got bad grades at school. The TV ban is purely a punishment without the child understanding why good grades are important and how to improve.

In practice, one must assume today that the autocratic style of upbringing in its pure form hardly ever occurs, since the upbringing usually takes place through the entire environment of a child and even the upbringing methods of the mother and father can differ. There are also grandparents, kindergarten teachers, teachers and friends who influence a child’s behavior.

The autocratic style of parenting outside the family

The psychologists Anne-Marie and Reinhard Tausch found that school lessons in the 1960s and 1970s were strongly influenced by the autocratic style of education.
The teachers specified which tasks had to be completed and which resources the children were allowed to use for them. The children worked through the tasks according to the wishes of the teachers as authority figures, without being able to think about their own methods of implementation. However, the psychologists Tausch also found that the behavior of teachers and educators could change from a democratic to an autocratic educational style.

Effects of an autocratic parenting style

The autocratic upbringing style is not suitable for educating children to act responsibly and to give them a healthy sense of self-esteem. In the opinion of the educator and sociologist Marion Ueberfeldt, a strictly autocratic upbringing style and overprotection lead just as little to an independent life as an upbringing without setting any limits, writes the Main-Spitze in June 2019. Children who are brought up autocratically often show strong feelings of inferiority . But this type of upbringing can also lead to increased aggressive behavior towards those who are weaker or even towards oneself.


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