Tag Archives: controlling child behaviors

3 Steps to Parent-Child Harmony

3 Steps to Parent-Child Harmony graphic

3 Steps to Parent-Child Harmony:
A New School Approach to Relationship Skills for Parents

A downloadable ebook by
Chuck Adam, MSW

In this book, I present a comprehensive approach to parenting from the perspective of empathy, dialogue, agreements, and accountability as a radical departure from the Old School perspective of power, control, punishments, and more punishments that often don’t work.

Based on my 40-plus years of work with parents, children, and families, first as therapist then as educator and coach, this volume breaks new ground in the area of strengthening families through enhanced relationship skills for parents.

As one of my colleagues told me, I’m “turning parenting on its head.”

Incidentally, everything presented in this book is applicable not just to parents, but also to teachers and other adults who work with children, as well as to adults in their relationships with each other.

Here’s what the book is about.

The three steps, or strategies, that parents can take in developing more harmonious relationships with their children are:

  1. Listening. This is the foundation of any relationship, and the single most important action a parent (or anyone else) can take in relation to another person. I am convinced  that listening constitutes 90% of conmunication, and is the single best thing one can do to build trust, provide support, and resolve tension and conflict. I find  that effective listening is also the single hardest activity for parents to master in relation to their children. But learning to “listen first and talk second” will do wonders for securing a child’s cooperation, and it’s by far the best way to teach a child to listen to you.
  2. Illustrating. Of course, as a parent you also speak, and have much to say and much to teach your children. You do this both verbally and non-verbally, and in this way you pass along your values, attitudes, and skills to your children, for better or worse. An attitude of respect is essential to good communication, as is the ability to use effective, methods of self-expression. The techniques I present here require a little self-awareness and self-discipline on your part. But they will put an end to yelling, threats, and many other forms of talk (“invitations to trouble”) that can cause hurt feelings and invite a child’s stubbornness and “payback.”
  3. Disciplining. If you can effectively practice the first two steps or strategies (listening and illustrating), then you can engage in effective dialogue as the primary means of helping your child to change unacceptable behaviors. Dialogue is the heart of my New School approach to disciplining. And here I present a radical departure from the use of ineffective punishments, which can often make things worse. Rather than punishment, “discipline” means teaching. The techniques I present are intended to teach children cooperation, accountability, integrity, respect, and empathy. One technique is the Behavior Dialogue, aimed at securing the child’s commitment to acceptable behaviors. Another is the Accountability Dialogue, which replaces punishment with emotional learning experiences. This is discipline at its best.

In each of the three steps, or strategies (listening, illustrating, and disciplining), I present three specific techniques that can be used spontaneously everyday. With practice, anyone can become quite skilled at using them. They are actually relationship skills that can literally transform conflict and tension into harmony and cooperation in any relationship, including one between adults. The tenth technique or skill, the family meeting, gives parents a chance to periodically put them all together in a more structured setting.

As noted author and teacher Marianne Williamson has said, There is no single effort more radical in its potential for changing the world than a transformation of the way we raise our children. This book, I hope, is a step in that direction.


eBOOK, PRICE:   $9.95
192 pages
Downloadable as pdf file
Read the book from your computer screen or print all of it or specific pages on your printer.


Old School to New School Shift, a

Old School to New School Shift, a

Parents wishing to change some of their Old School parenting habits to New School practices can get an overview of the main priciples that characterize each of the two approaches by looking at this chart. It shows the four functional principles that guide parents’ behavior almost all the time in each system. While it does not show all aspects of how to parent differently in the New School approach, it gives a clear idea of what needs to be done in making the shift from Old School to New School ways of parenting.

Please click on the  following link to view the chart.

Old School to New School Shift a


3 Steps to Parent-Child Harmony is my book  that describes in detail the differences between the Old School Parenting model and the New School Parenting model.  Please see these links if you are interested in more information or wish to purchase.

Learn more.    Buy Now.   Table of Contents & Intro

Thoughts About James Lehman’s Total Transformation Program

Thoughts About James Lehman’s
Total Transformation Program

This program has pluses and minuses. Consequently,  there are a lot of things I like about James Lehman’s Total Transformation Program, and a lot things I do not like about it. The following comments are based on a study of Lehman’s Total Transformation Program Workbook, without the benefit of having listened to the extensive audio or the video programs. Still, I think my comments are a relatively accurate and complete summary of Lehman’s concepts and his approach to parenting children with extremely difficult behaviors.

The comments which follow are a brief overview of a more in-depth analysis of the Total Transformation Program. If you would like a free copy of my more comprehensive critique, please click here.

Things I Like About the Total Transformation Program

First of all, I like the fact that Lehman presents parents with a coherent, well-designed, and extensive program for dealing with very assertive, obnoxious, and abusive (both physical and verbal) child behavior.
Second, I like the fact that he identifies faulty thinking on the part of the child as the real cause of disrespectful, obnoxious, and abusive behavior.
Third, Lehman presents the program in a structured set of lessons, Continue reading

Parent Responses to Out-of-Control Kids

Parent Responses to Out-of-Control Kids

There is no way a parent can control any child, even less, one who is “out of control.”

See my Volcano Theory for more detail. In short, it states that all behavior in all people at all times is motivated by a) thoughts, or b) feelings (emotions), or both. Only the child can control his behavior, just as only you can control yours. So don’t try to control, or “take charge of,” your out-of-control child’s behavior. It’ll cause more anger and resentment, and just make things worse.

As the parent, you must work at being the child’s ally, not her persecutor or drill sargent or boss. You can be her ally by understanding what thoughts and feelings motivate her behavior, and then by negotiating agreements with her, and then by holding her accountable for her agreements. Believe it or not, you can do this with two-year-olds. In fact, the younger the child is (as long as he can communicate verbally), the better is the time to start this.

Continue reading

Old & New School Parenting Methods

Old & New School Parenting Methods

Old School Parenting Methods

Here is a brief listing of some of the most popular methods that 99% of our parents (and eons of parents before them) used in order to bring us, as children, into line with their wishes and demands.

The goal of discipline in the Old School approach to parenting was, and still is, obedience. It features a heavy dose of punishment for disobedience, and this punishment is intended to “teach the child a lesson,” which can generally be interpreted to mean “scare the child into submission.” By inflicting some kind of pain or deprivation, the punishment is meant to deter child misbehavior and disobedience in the future. These methods focus on dealing with children on the corporal or physical level.

With the exception of physical punishment, these methods are not necessarily “wrong” or “bad,” but they are too often ineffective with strong-willed, autonomous, or rebellious children of all ages. Here’s a listing of the most common Old School methods or techniques.

Continue reading

New School Parenting: Discipline Means Teaching Children to Care

New School Parenting:
Discipline Means Teaching Children to Care

I can think of no more confusing and problematic topic for both parents and professionals than the matter of the proper discipline of children. Before getting into how I approach this most important topic, I want to make two points.

“Discipline” Means Teaching and Learning.

First, the meaning of the word “discipline.” The words disciple and discipline come from the Latin word, disciplina. This Latin word has different meanings, including both “teaching” and “learning.” This makes sense because if a person is really teaching something, then that means someone else is actually learning something. On the other hand, if a teacher in a classroom is attempting to teach a group of rowdy students who are not paying the least bit of attention, then we could hardly say they are learning what the teacher is “teaching.” Since they are not learning, the teacher is, unfortunately, just going through the motions, and not really teaching.

Continue reading

Old School Parenting Is Not Necessarily “Bad” Or “Wrong”

Old School Parenting Is Not Necessarily”Bad” or “Wrong.”

But It’s Often Ineffective

The Old School model of parenting is not, in and of itself, bad or wrong in terms of how to be a parent. Ninety-nine percent of us were probably raised within that model, and we turned out just fine, thank you!

By the “Old School parenting model” I mean the model that has been around for eons, probably as long as human parenting itself. It consists of a set of time-honored, tried and true principles that include the following: 1) rules; 2) obedience; and 3) punishments.

Old School = Parental Decree –> Rules –> Obedience –> Punishments

Continue reading

How to Use Time-Out

How to Use Time-Out

The “time-out” has become a parenting staple in our culture. It is commonly used to give children a chance to think about their misbehavior in the hope that they will reflect on their actions and determine not to repeat them in the future. That’s the theory. In practice, however, the time-out amounts to little more than a punishment for bad behavior. It’s very similar to the old fashioned “dunce cap” routine.

It is certainly true that children need to learn self-control in general, and particularly in relation to expression of their anger – how to use their words instead of their hands or feet. They learn this best by watching their parents, who are always modeling for them.

It is also true that children need to learn right behavior, or how to behave properly. Parents know what proper behavior is for a child, and in the course of an ordinary day they find many occasions to tell their children what that is.

Questions about Time-Out

Continue reading

Justifications for Punishment

Justifications for Punishment

Punishment of child misbehavior is and Old School approach to “how to parent,” and it’s as old as the hills. It just comes naturally. Almost all parents use it as a means of correcting the wrongdoing of their children for a couple of reasons. One is that children clearly need to learn that doing wrong, like being disrespectful, or stealing, or hurting someone, needs to stop. We would all agree that misbehavior needs to be corrected.

Another justification parents give for using punishment is to teach their children about life–specifically, that wrongdoing usually invites negative consequences, especially if you are caught. It often happens that even if you are not caught, wrongdoing has a way of coming back to “bite you,” and you end up getting what you deserve. So punishment is often used as a means of teaching children about, and preparing them for, the harsh realities of life.

Continue reading

How Parents Invite Trouble

How Parents Invite Trouble

Note: I am indebted to Thomas Gordon, MD, for so clearly identifying in his wonderful book Parent Effectiveness Training the following (and other) forms of parental communication that cause problems with children. He calls them “the typical twelve.” I have modified a few of them, left some out, and added some below.

How Parents Invite Anger and Defensiveness in Children Without Even Knowing It.

The following common methods that parents instinctively use to confront unacceptable child behaviors are exactly what the parent should NOT do. These are invitations to trouble. They are likely to be felt as an assault by the child, which then compounds the frustration and anger the child might already be feeling.

These everyday forms of parental communication are “power and control tactics” aimed at making a child do something. They are almost always experienced as attacks by children. (They are also felt as attacks by adults, too, when adults are spoken to in these ways.) They are disrespectful ways of talking. If the child is already upset or frustrated,

Continue reading