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Classroom Behaviour Management: Authoritative teaching style

Classroom Behaviour Management: Authoritative teaching style

What if I told you classroom behaviour management could be about more than being a disciplinarian teacher? Would it change the way you approached discipline in your classroom?


Strict discipline methods in your classroom don’t necessarily improve behaviour. 


I've written this blog to help you understand the theory behind different discipline styles and help you think about how small changes in your behaviour can make a big difference to your classroom behaviour management.


We will look at four styles of behaviour management:

Classroom behaviour management

  • Authoritarian
  • Permissive
  • Uninvolved
  • Authoritative

These are typically used to describe parenting styles, but we can also use them to describe leadership styles in schools.




  • The focus is on obedience
  • Rules are expected to be unquestioningly obeyed
  • There are punishments for rule infringements


Authoritarian discipline is widely used by teachers, and is often described as disciplinarian. There are typically two only two roles in an authoritarian relationship: 

The ‘doer’. Generally an adult authority figure such as a teacher.

The ‘done to’. Everyone else. In our case, the children we teach.

Authoritarian relationships can make the ‘done to’ – your children – feel victimised and not listened to. This can lead to them having feelings of apathy or aggression.




  • Rules aren’t enforced
  • Poor behaviour is rarely followed up on
  • Children are left to their own devices

Permissive discipline is often thought of as lenient or indulgent. The adult only gets involved occasionally. Adults following this style will, at times, emphasise being friends over discipline.




  • Very few rules, that aren’t enforced
  • Low levels of communication and guidance
  • Lack of interest in, or expectations of, children

Uninvolved discipline is often thought of as lenient or detached. Children are given a lot of freedom so adults can get on with their own things.




  • Rules are enforced through positive relationships
  • The reasons for rules are shared with everyone they affect
  • There are consequences for rule infringements

Authoritative discipline is stricter than the other types, despite the fact it probably won't look like it to an outside observer.

When an incident occurs, the feelings of everyone involved are discussed. That way, children learn why it is important that everyone works together.

The authoritative approach to discipline has recently has hit the headlines. There have been efforts in Leeds to lower childhood obesity rates. It is believed that the increase in parents adopting an authoritative approach has contributed to reducing rates of childhood obesity in the city.


Which style will work best in your class?


It's unlikely that you, or anyone else, uses just one style of discipline when teaching.


We all move between discipline styles. For example, I know that tiredness and stress levels impact my ability to be patient! Consequently, I've found myself reverting to a more authoritarian style at those times.


Authoritative discipline requires time, effort and consistency. It's sometimes described as 'playing the long game'. In short, it's tricky to be good at it!


Having said that, adopting an authoritative approach to discipline will help you and your children.


You and your learners will all be pulling in the same direction. In theory there is no power struggle: everyone understands why the rules are in place.

Classroom behaviour management - authoritativeAn authoritative approach to behaviour management is especially effective for resolving classroom conflicts: everyone should feel listened to.

However, this doesn’t mean there won’t be conflict. It means that during times of conflict, you and your pupils will feel that they have been listened to.


Not sure whether adopting an authoritative style of discipline will improve behaviour management in your classroom? Consider this:


What kind of Headteacher, Phase Leader or Line Manager would you want to work for? Who would you work best for? How would you like to be treated?


What did you think? Your children are probably thinking the same thing.


If you’d like to read more about classroom management strategies and find some tips you can use in your teaching, then read our ‘Classroom Management’ blog.


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