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What Is the Negative Parenting Test and Are the Results Legit?

The negative parenting test is the latest TikTok trend. Learn how teens use the negative parenting test to understand how their parents treat them affects their lives.
What Is the Negative Parenting Test and Are the Results Legit?
Updated: September 8, 2023
Medically reviewed by  Katharine Chan, MSc, BSc, PMP
Table of contents

Recently, the “Negative Parenting Test” has recently blown up all over TikTok for tweens/teens who are examining the impact their parents have had on their lives and emotional well-being. 

Is the Negative Parenting Test a valuable psychology tool or just a TikTok trend and gimmick? Can parents and children gain real insights from this test? Is this kind of trend harmful? Should you take the results as a serious indicator of good or bad parenting?

Related: Does Gentle Parenting Really Work? Pros and Cons

To understand why the Negative Parenting test is so popular with teens, it’s important to know just how it works and break down the research and psychology behind the test. 

What Is the Negative Parenting Test? 

TikTok is a popular social media platform for sharing personality test results. It’s a way for people to talk about things they learned about themselves from taking new quizzes. Recently, TikTok users have been assessing how their parents impacted who they are by sharing their results of the Negative Parenting Test.

The Negative Parenting Test is a 30-question IDRlabs (Individual Differences Research) quiz that looks at the different ways parents impact the lives of their kids with their behavior. The test can help assess the quality of the relationship between a child and their parent.

You can take the Negative Parenting Test by going to the IDRLabs link

It is based on the research conducted by Dr. John Phillip Louis, Ph.D., Alex M. Wood, Ph.D., and George Lockwood, Ph.D. According to the IDRLabs site, the Negative Parenting Test examines “whether you are struggling with common damaging patterns as a consequence of the way your parents treated you”.

How Does the Negative Parenting Test Work? 

The Negative Parenting Test is based on the responses you provide for 30 questions. Each question is related to when you were young and how your parents raised you. The questions are statements and you rank how much you agree or disagree with them on a sliding scale.

For example, some of the questions the Negative Parenting Test asks are:

  • “When I was young, my parents made me feel guilty if I did not put their needs ahead of mine.”
  • “When I was young, my parents put a lot of pressure on me to meet all of my responsibilities.”
  • “When I was young, my parents were uncomfortable with expressing affection.” 

How to Interpret Your Negative Parenting Test Results

Once you’ve answered all 30 questions, the test will generate your results which tell you which negative parenting pattern you may have experienced the most in your childhood.

Graph showing results of the "Negative Parenting Test"

This can be for one or both of your parents. Specifically, there are six negative parenting behavior categories. The six negative categories are: 

  1. Controlling 

Controlling parents try to exert control over many different aspects of their children’s lives including their hobbies, friend, food choices, fashion and day-to-day schedules. When a parent plans out all of a child’s decisions rather than letting them make their own choices, kids grow up lacking agency or a sense of independence.

Children of controlling parents often feel that they are unable to do anything on their own and do not have confidence in their ideas ability. This often leaves these children dependent on their parents to help them with basic life skills such as cooking, making appointments or managing their own finances even into adulthood.

Controlling parents also focus on their children’s mistakes and criticize them when they don’t succeceeed. This behavior can lead to kids developing anxiety around failure and they may struggle to try new things. 

  1. Competitiveness

Parents who have a competitive mindset often view their children’s accomplishments as their own and put a lot of pressure on their children to be “the best” whether that’s in academics, sports or other activities.

They often compare their child’s strengths or weaknesses to other children, and shame them if they are not as competent in something as someone else. Growing up with competitive parents can lead to an unhealthy mindset in children where they strive for perfection and never feel good enough.

This type of parenting can lead to children experiencing things like depression andimposter sydrome later in life. Kids will often struggle with a sense of guilt or fear when they can’t live up to their parents’ high expectations. 

  1. Deprivation

Children who are deprived by their parents generally received little to know emotional affection or communication with their parents growing up. Rather than discuss difficult situations like a job loss or family, their parents would either ignore the issue or resort to fights and outbursts rather than discussing the real issue.

Parental deprivation tends to lead to emotionally stunted adults who find it difficult to talk about their own emotions with others. Emotionally deprived children can have trouble forming long-term romantic relationships and friendships because they don’t feel comfortable expressing affection or vulnerability. 

  1. Overprotection

Frightened mom and little kid son with bowl of popcorn watching scary scene in movie closing their eyes, sitting on sofa at home. Mother hugs the child, watches a horror movie, feels fear.

Parents who are overprotective or helicopter parents try to shelter their children from any physical or emotional pain, but can often go too far and hinder their child’s development later in life. Overprotective parents may not allow kids to do things such as visit friend’s homes, learn to ride a bike or make food for themselves on a stove becaus they’re worried about their child getting hurt.

However, kids who aren’t allowed to take any risks often become stunted in their emotional growth and may have difficulty making friends or dealing with criticism in the workforce later in life. Overprotective parents also refuse to accept their children’s failure and will blame others such as their teachers or other children if their child makes a poor decision. When children aren’t taught to take responsibility they may grow up to be more entitled, disrespectful and have difficulty getting along with others as an adult.  

5. Punishing

Punishing parents believe in strict discipline even for small mistakes. Children will be verbally or even physically reprimanded for being forgetful or rude – often without an initial warning or lesson. 

In adulthood, children of parents who focused on punishments tend to judge others harshly for their errors and are focused on getting revenge or lashing out at anyone who they believe has wronged them. These children may also develop a very harsh inner critic and punish/deprive themselves of good things when they mess up because they feel that they don’t “deserve them.” 

6. Rejection

Parents who exhibit rejection toward their children often exhibit feelings of dislike or annoyance toward their children whether that’s through criticism, dismissal, or indifference. They may yell at their children for expressing basic needs such as hunger or tiredness.

It’s common for these parents to blame having children on things like not accomplishing their goals, and they may even tell their child that they wish they never had them at all. Experiencing frequent rejection in childhood makes it difficult for children to feel worthy of love, and they may have trouble trusting others in the future. 

What Are More Types of Negative Parenting? 

Young girl being reprimanded by her mother at home

Beyond the Negative Parenting Test categories, psychologists have also identified other parenting styles that can have a negative impact on their children. Every parent has their way of raising their child and will often experiment to see what works. 

Negative parenting occurs when a parent’s actions and behaviors directly harm a child’s development, health, growth, and well-being. Negative behaviors can include verbal abuse, physical abuse, excessive and unnecessary punishment, shaming, guilt, controlling, lack of emotional validation, withholding affection, toxic comparisons, and neglect. The effects of negative parenting can carry into their adult life.

There are three types of parenting styles that are considered negative.

1. Authoritarian Parenting

Authoritarian parenting is when a parent has very strict expectations of their children. They are known to enforce rules and believe in tough love. Some behaviors and attitudes of authoritative parents include:

  • Strict, rigid and tough
  • Emotionally unavailable
  • One-way communication from parent to child
  • High expectations with a “Because I said so” mentality
  • Lack of sensitivity to their child’s emotions

A 2016 study showed that children who reported experiencing authoritarian parenting were more likely to report symptoms of depression compared to children who didn’t experience authoritarian parenting practices. It concluded that positive parenting practices may play a significant role in the prevention of youth depression.

2. Permissive Parenting

A permissive parent is one who does not provide guidance or direction and quickly gives in to their children’s demands. Some other behaviors of a permissive parenting style include:

  • Openly communicate with their children but lack responsiveness
  • Does not enforce rules 
  • Avoids conflict
  • Inconsistent follow-through on consequences and expectations

A 2014 study looked at permissive parenting and the mental health of college students. It found that students who were raised with a permissive parenting style had higher academic entitlement and experienced more stress and had poorer mental health. It concluded that permissive parenting may be a barrier for students in their ability to self-regulate and achieve college success.

3. Neglectful Parenting

Neglectful parenting is a parenting style where the parent is unresponsive, does not provide guidance to their kids and does not play an active role in their lives. Other behaviors of neglectful parenting include:

  • Emotionally distant
  • Lack of knowledge of the important parts of their child’s life. For instance, they don’t know who their teacher is or who their friends are.
  • Lets their children figure it out themselves when faced with problems without offering support or guidance.
  • Lacking nurturance

According to the American Psychological Association, children raised with uninvolved parents “tend to have low self-esteem and little self-confidence and seek other, sometimes inappropriate, role models to substitute for the neglectful parent”.

Is the Negative Parenting Test Real/Accurate? 

The Negative Parenting Test was informed by two studies that were published in scientific journals. 

The first study was published in 2021 and explored the “patient experience” of the users of the Good Enough Parenting program. 

The Good Enough Parenting program was developed to help caregivers meet the core emotional needs of children. It focused on minimizing problems and strengthening parenting practices. The study conducted one-on-one interviews with 55 participants to determine the user experiences of the program through thematic analysis. 

The results showed that participants were significantly satisfied with the identified key themes. The study concluded that it supports the development of the program for randomized controlled trials.

The second study conducted a psychometric validation of the Young Parenting Inventory — Revised (YPI-R2) which is a commonly used parenting scale in schema therapy research and practice. It is an instrument that measures early parenting patterns that revolve around core emotional needs.

Both studies were conducted by Dr. Louis and his colleagues. Their work informed part of the diagnostic criteria for the Parenting Inventory. The Parenting Inventory is a psychological, clinically-used instrument that is used by qualified mental health professionals.

However, the IDRlabs website explains that the Negative Parenting Test is independent of the researchers, and organizations or their affiliated institutions. 

Specifically, it states the following:

“Free online tests and quizzes such as this one are solely first takes and cannot provide accurate assessments of your potential condition. Hence, the test is intended to be used for educational purposes only. A definitive psychometric assessment can be made only by a qualified mental health professional.”

Therefore, the test does not give a professional assessment of your parenting. If you would prefer to have a valid and reliable evaluation of the relationship with your child or parent, it is best to consult with your doctor or mental health care provider.

Tips for Having a More Positive Relationship With Your Tween or Teen 

Parenting is a challenging and unpredictable journey; it’s difficult to know if you’re always doing the right thing. This can be especially troublesome during your child’s teen years because they are rapidly changing as they transition into a young adult. They are forming their own opinions and figuring out who they are in the world.

You may have practiced some negative parenting behaviors and it can be distressing to know you may have caused harm to your child. However, the most important thing to do is to recognize your mistake and work on stopping that type of behavior.

Here are some tips to have a more positive parent-child relationship with your tween or teen.

1. Be warm but firm

Mother and teenage daughters strolling in trailer in field.

Your child is going through a lot of changes, physically, mentally, and emotionally. They need a lot of compassion and empathy at this time. Create an environment at home where they feel safe expressing their thoughts, negative emotions, beliefs, and opinions. 

However, it’s also important to set clear expectations for their behavior and follow through on discipline and consequences. 

2. Listen with openness and honesty

Try to cultivate two-way communication with your teen. Openly talk to them about taboo topics such as dating, sexuality, and substance use. It may feel uncomfortable but having these types of conversations builds trust with your child and makes them feel like they can ask you questions and share with you their concerns. 

It’s better they get their answers from you than from an unreliable source. You’re giving them the appropriate information to make their own decisions.

3. Get to know your teen

Take the time to get to know who your teen is becoming. Have an idea of what their hobbies and interests are. If they are on a sports team, attend their games and support them. 

However, refrain from criticizing them. If they like a certain movie or show, suggest watching it together. Finding common ground doesn’t have to be complicated. Sometimes, being present with your child is all they need.

If you’re struggling to manage your negative parenting behaviors, reach out to a counselor or mental health professional. They can help you learn how to interact with your child in a more healthy manner. 

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