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When is my kid ever going to learn to do what I tell him to do?

Many people come to a parenting class to figure out a way to “fix” the problem with their kid. I have to admit, there were times when my kids were growing up that that thought crossed my mind as I scanned the titles of parenting books looking for some new ideas.

You may be tired of the power struggles, and even the yelling and nagging but have you ever wondered what part you play in the behavior challenge? As parents we are often focused on what’s wrong with the way our kid is behaving, because we know that the stakes are high. We love our kids and want positive outcomes for them. But sometimes our misguided passion for a positive future outcome drives us to use our authority in ways that are detrimental to strong relationships with our kids.

What are we doing as parents that supports and builds our family, and what gets in the way of that positive future we all hope for? If you are tired of the frustration and chaos that seems to reign in your family, making some days nearly unbearable, you are in a good place to initiate change.

There are two things you can do to help get back on track with your family. First, take time to reflect on what is going well and celebrate that. Then, reflect on what you can do to change the way we are operating so that you build strong connected relationships with your kids rather than contributing to the frustration and chaos.

Even though it may not feel like it at the time, there are things happening in your family that are very positive. Taking the time to evaluate what is right will give you hope.

So, now how can we evaluate areas that could benefit from change – the kind of change that would allow us to build, rather than undermine the relationship with our kids? We all bring a box of tools with us into parenting. Some of our tools and habits are very valuable, but others get in the way of our success as parents. Take some time to think about what you have brought with you into your family. Look back at the family you grew up in. What have you learned from your family of origin that you want to incorporate in your own family? For some of us, it is easy to list the things we appreciated or value about the family we grew up in. For others, it may be hard to come up with even one thing you’d do the same way your parents did. Wherever you find yourself, reflecting on the way you were parented is valuable.

Know Your Default Parenting Style

Your default parenting style is a response that comes naturally or automatically. It is obvious especially when you are overwhelmed, angry, tired or under pressure. Our default parenting style is derived from our a combination of inherited traits and experiences. Experiences that help form our default can be positive, like the patience of your father or the healthy food choices in your family. Or they can be derived from adverse experiences, like trauma we have experienced in our family of origin or previous relationships.

Ideally, we would rather make intentional, well thought out parenting decisions, but under pressure, our default styles often emerge.

As you are identifying your default parenting style, it may be helpful to take a parenting styles inventory ( That will help you understand the way you currently parent, but will also give you some ideas about how you might want to parent differently.

Once you have clearly identified your parenting style you are well on your way to helping your child manage their own behavior and to see the changes you hope for.
For more information on ways you can initiate change in your family and gain new tools to help your kids manage their own behavior, click here.