Tag Archives: Old School parenting

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 and New School Parenting

Old and New School Parenting

In this category I have posted numerous articles describing the differences between my Old School model of how to be a parent, and my New School model of parenting.

The Old School model is not necessarily bad or wrong, but it is often ineffective, especially with strong-willed, resistant, out-of-control children. The Old School methods don’t seem to work well at all with these children, regardless of their age. The New School model offers an excellent alternative to the Old School model, and it is effective with all children, not just stubborn or defiant ones.

You will find a difference in the four basic operational principles of each model, as well as a wide variety of “new” techniques to use (see the category “9 Key Parenting Skills”). Parent-child dialogue is the heart and soul of the New School approach to parenting, and this can be very effective with all children, even as young as two years.

Finally, the category “New School Discipline” presents a totally different approach to discipline from the one almost all of us were raised with. Before exploring those posts, I recommend that you become familiar with the posts in this category, “Old and New School Parenting.” You’ll see that it contains a lot of significant differences from the way your parents raised you, and the way you may have been trying to raise your own kids.


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

Dialogue: The Heart of New School Parenting

Dialogue: The Heart of New School Parenting

Parent-child dialogue is the heart and soul of my New School approach to how to be a parent. The love a parent has for a child is expressed and embodied in how the parent communicates with the child, even when the child is a newborn. Obviously, dialogue entails listening as well as talking, and it includes all non-verbal communication as well. There are many skills involved in having a good dialogue, and as parents we are illustrating and teaching them to our children in everything we say and do.

In the New School approach to parenting, we recognize and accept the fact that control of children’s behavior is a delusion. We cannot control our children’s behavior. (See my “Volcano Theory.”) They have free will. We do not have a remote control to their brain. They are not robots or slaves. They talk to us when they want to talk, not necessarily when we want them to talk.

Consequently we are convinced that we are better off not even trying to control their behavior through the Old School use of power and control tactics, like our parents used (yelling, ordering, bossing, threatening, punishing, spanking, hitting, grounding, etc). We recognize these as invitations to trouble. We acknowledge that the best we can get from our children, and what we really want from them, is their cooperation, based on dialogue and agreements, rather than their obedience to rules that we impose. If they don’t want to talk, we realize we cannot force them to.

Influence Does Not Equal Control

In the New School approach to parenting, we acknowledge that while we have absolutely no control over our children’s behavior, but only over our own, we also acknowledge that we have tremendous influence on our children’s thoughts, feelings, and behavior. We acknowledge that influence does not equal control. Continue reading

How to Parent Toddlers and Youngsters

How to Parent Toddlers and Youngsters

Isn’t it amazing how toddlers can be so strong-willed? The “terrible twos” are not so named without good reason. And parents are almost universally challenged when it comes to how to parent a toddler who already seems naturally bent on resisting orders, commands, and even less harsh forms of guidance. But  that’s the way it is, and once the child learns to say “No” the battle of wills is underway.

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Parenting Styles

Parenting Styles

Many authors refer to various parenting styles, and some have their own unique styles (for example John Gottman). Most authors, however, describe some variation of three general styles of parenting. These are: authoritarian, permissive, and balanced.

The authoritarian style is one in which the parent is strict, definite about setting limits for children, and “rules with an iron fist.” This style is considered autocratic in that the parent tends to be heavy-handed in making decisions for the children, and leaves relatively little room for child decision-making.

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Parenting Authors: An Old School to New School Continuum

Parenting Authors: An Old School to New School Continuum

At this link, more than two dozen authors of parenting books, and the tiltles of their books, are placed on a 10-point continuum between Old School and New School. This is how I (Chuck Adam) see their parenting philosophy, as well as some characteristics of an Old School and a New School approach to parenting.

Please click on the following link to see a PDF version of the continuum of parenting authors.

Parenting Authors Continuum

Example: At the far left side is Supernanny (Jo Frost), who I see as extremely Old School. At the far right side is Alfie Kohn, who I see as extremely New School.

NOTE: I make no judgment on this chart of the value of these authors’ positions, or their helpfulness to parents. For example, although Supernanny is very Old School, she is also extremely good at it, and has been very helpful to many parents with young, high-energy children.


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

Thoughts About John Rosemond’s Old School Approach to Discipline (Short Version)

Thoughts About John Rosemond’s
Old School Approach to Discipline (Short Version)

John Rosemond’s book The New Six-Point Plan for Raising Happy, Healthy, Children is quite interesting and quite provocative. Rosemond is a psychologist who has been around a while, who says he doesn’t believe in psychology, who has done a lot of work with parents, and who has published numerous other books, including: Teen-Proofing; Because I Said So!; Parent Power: A Common-Sense Approach to Parenting in the 90’s and Beyond; John Rosemond’s New Parent Power; and others.

Rosemond’s Six-Point Pla

Here are the chapter headings of his six-point plan: 1) The Parent-Centered Family; 2) The Voice of Authority; 3) The Roots of Responsibility; 4) The Fruits of Frustration (the child’s frustration–CA); 5) Toys and Play–The Right Stuff; and 6) Television, Computers, and Video Games–More Than Meets the Eye. Point number seven is Love ‘Em Enough to Do the First Six!

He also presents, in an afterword, Rosemond’s Bill of Rights for Children, which are, essentially, that children have the right to be bossed around by their parents.

The New Six Point Plan really challengied me to think about and question my “New School” approach to parenting.  He refers to himself as “old fashioned,” and  I’d say he is certainly in the running for the title “King of the Old School Approach to Parenting.” If Supernanny (Jo Frost) can be considered “Queen of the Old School Approach to Parenting” (I think she can), John Rosemond is the king. Now there’s a match made in heaven!

Old School Is Not Necessarily Bad or Wrong

I have said from the start of my talking and writing about New and Old School parenting that the Old School methods aren’t necessarily bad, but that they are not working so well with many of today’s savvy, autonomous, well-connected, and even defiant children–of all ages. For some of those kids, on the “defiant” end of the “compliant-defiant continuum,” the Old School methods just make things worse.

However, for many other kids, toward the other end of the continuum, who are more compliant, they do work fine, just like they did for us when we were kids.
It’s that group of kids in the middle, who are resistive, rebellious, and strong-willed  enough to cause behavior problems that I’m wondering about. Continue reading

A New School Approach to Family Rules

A New School Approach to Family Rules

What is discipline? In Latin, it means “teaching” and also “learning.” In the “Old School” style of parenting, it was commonplace for parents to teach by making up the rules of the house, and “laying down the law.” Kids were expected to obey, to conform, to learn by doing what they were told. And when they disobeyed, children were “disciplined”–they were punished. Discipline meant punishment. By and large, that discipline system worked pretty well in our families, didn’t it?

New School Approach to “How to Be a Parent”

What I call my “New School” approach to discipline in the family might at first sound too lenient, but it is not. That is the idea of “agreements” replacing the idea of “rules.” Agreements are bilateral–that is, both or all the parties involved make it understood to each other that they are knowingly accepting an expectation, an action, or a limit. Rules, on the other hand, are more like laws that are handed down by a governing body for the common good of the community, and there’s usually a law enforcement system in operation to make it all work. It’s not founded on love, but the power of law and order and obedience.

However, in my “New School” approach to discipline, where we replace “rules” with “agreements,” parents still hold the authority, power, and responsibility of having the last word regarding values, standards, and acceptable child behavior. Paradoxically, parents earn children’s respect and go a long way toward getting their cooperation by listening to them, and sharing decision-making power with them whenever that makes sense. Another paradox: when parents do this consistently, they tend to start learning early on how truly responsible, cooperative, and respectful their children can be. When children are listened to and have a voice in the decisions that affect them, they are more likely to enter agreements with parents about expectations, limits, and consequences. When they agree with parents on these things, they are more likely to cooperate, follow through on what they agreed to.

When people reach an agreement about expected behavior, limits, consequences, etc., they then have a basis for discipline–cooperation, accountability, integrity, and responsibility. If the child breaks an agreement, the parent holds them accountable–not for disobeying a rule, but for breaking an agreement they have made.


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

How to Parent Your Teenager

How to Parent Your Teenager.
Their world has drastically changed.  Parents need to change, too.

We have met the enemy. And he is us. (Pogo)

You Are Your Teenager’s Parent, Not Boss

Parents: don’t be your own worst enemy. Teenagers are still your children. You are still their parent. But you are no longer their boss. You’ve been fired.

Your task now is to get rehired as a consultant. This will happen only when they want it–not when you want it. But you can do things that will give yourself a reasonable chance to get “back in your teenager’s good graces,” so that he or she is willing to cooperate with you much more and be less defiant, as I will show you.

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