Why The Most Common Approaches To Parenting Don’t Work And Actually Create MORE Frustration, Tears, And Whining

Have you ever noticed that the more you try to reason with your child, the less reasonable he or she becomes?

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Or when things get out of hand, telling your child to stop only makes them act out more?

You hate to lose your temper, but sometimes it seems the only remedy for a meltdown or defiance is yelling at them. Or if that doesn’t get their attention, taking away their electronics or toys might.

Although when you have to resort to that, your child usually just throws an even louder tantrum.

That’s when you may have your own meltdown, which can include spanking, swearing, calling your child a brat, or worse!

You hate it when you lose control with your kids.

It makes you feel like the world’s worst parent and a terrible person.

But you’re not a terrible person. You’re just a parent doing their best with the only tools and resources you were given (usually parenting styles modeled to you by your parents).

But as you’ll soon read, the most common go-to tactics and tools parents use can be pretty ineffective.

3 Common Parenting Approaches That Lead To MORE Anger, Meltdowns And Defiance

Think of the last time you had to discipline your child or say no to something. How did you handle it? Was it one of these three ways?

1 Lawyer Mode: Using logic and reasoning to get the child to comply.

Let’s say your child wants to do something that’s not a good idea in the moment. Say, for example, they want to have a playdate after school when you’re about to take them to a dental appointment.

Your first inclination would be to explain why that’s not a good idea today. The conversation might go like this:

Son: Can Jack come over to play?

Young girl hiding her face behind her hands

You: Not today, honey, you have to go to the dentist this afternoon.

Son: But I told Jack that he could come over and we would play Legos.

You: You should have asked me first and I would have reminded you that today isn’t a good day for that.

Son: I don’t want to go to the dentist!

You: Well, you don’t want to get cavities now, do you?

Son: I don’t care!

You: You may not care now, but you will when your teeth are hurting.

Son: Nooooo. I don’t wanna go.

When you’re in Lawyer Mode with your child, you may think you’re being calm and reasonable and practicing healthy parenting. Unfortunately, your child probably won’t respond well to your logic and explanations, because they’re operating from their emotions, not reason.

In this scenario, he had his heart set on playing with his friend and could care less about your reasoning that going to the dentist is a much better idea, or that he should put off his playdate for a later time.

This negotiation could go on for a few more minutes, your child will get more cranky and you’ll probably lose your patience. That’s when you might go into the next mode…

2 Dictator Mode: Ending the discussion, punishing and coercion to stop the whining.

Your child is getting more upset and so are you. You don’t want to give in to his demands for a playdate and he doesn’t want to cooperate with going to his appointment.

Crying boy leaning on his mother's shoulder

This is when you may feel cornered and switch to Dictator Mode. You’re just going to tell him what to do, no questions or choices anymore. You’re hoping this will get him to calm down and comply.

You: Ok, that’s enough. Go put your shoes on, we have to get going.

Son: No!

You: Put your shoes on now, mister, or else no more playdates the rest of the month!

Son: You’re mean!

You: You haven’t seen mean yet! Put your shoes on now, or no screen time the rest of the day, either!

Son: I never get to do anything!

He is not complying and is starting to have a meltdown. That’s when you pull one last rabbit out of the hat, so to speak.

3 Bargains or Bribery: Giving in or negotiating to appease the child.

As a last-ditch strategy to get your child to calm down you may try negotiating or offering a bribe.

You: How about you ask Jack over for tomorrow instead?

Son: But I want Jack to come over today!

You: If you wait until tomorrow, I’ll order a pizza and you can have a sleepover.

Son: No! I want to have pizza and a sleepover today!

Bargains, bribery, and negotiations may not always work, but if they do, and you resort to this method regularly, you are depriving your child of the ability to feel disappointment and to work through their own frustration.

What this does is train your child to go into tantrum mode quicker in order to get what they want faster.

It also nurtures entitlement and narcissism in your child when they become adults. Yikes! You don’t want that.

What are the alternatives at this point? Should you physically force him to put his shoes on and get out the door? Should you start yelling and screaming? Will spanking do the trick?

You don’t want to go down this road with your child. You hate yourself when you do. But how else should you handle this situation?

After all, your child WAS being unreasonable and defiant.


Actually, there’s another way to handle this, and it starts with YOU.

Learn A Better Way To Parent

Your Child’s Behavior Is Not The Problem And Giving In Is Not The Answer, Either

Children don’t respond well to a parent who comes across as needy, desperate or out of control.

This is why going into Lawyer, Dictator or Bribery mode with your children is not an effective way to get their cooperation.

These modes don’t work because your child intuitively senses that you are not steadily in control. You’re trying to coax certain behaviors out of them and the energy you’re putting forth is either desperation or neediness.

Father and son playing in a stream

Sure, you may get some compliance some of the time with coercion or yelling, but it will only make the child feel hurt and disregarded.

Which may be why they act out in the first place.

The answer is NOT giving in to the child or indulging what the child wants in the moment, either. Doing that doesn’t allow him to work through his disappointment of not getting what he wanted and encourages entitlement.

Getting your child’s attention and cooperation begins with how you’re exhibiting leadership. It means changing the mode in which you parent him or her.

Instead of reasoning, yelling or bribing, you have to embody a calmer, steadier alpha energy that communicates to your child that you are the adult and you know what’s best for him or her.

That means taking on the persona of the Captain of the Ship.

The Captain doesn’t resort to rationalizing, pleading, bribery or yelling.

The Captain is a cool cucumber who can weather the storms of childhood and stay the course.

The Captain doesn’t NEED the child to behave a certain way in order to steer the ship where it needs to go.

The Captain is respected, loved and trusted and elicits a feeling of calm trust and cooperation.

The Captain is present and engaged in whatever is happening, but unwavering as to the course he or she has decided upon.

Here’s how the same scenario might play out when you’re the Captain of the ship:

Son: Can Jack come over to play?

You: Not today, honey, you have to go to the dentist this afternoon.

Son: But I told Jack that he could come over and we would play Legos.

You: Oh!

Son: I don’t want to go to the dentist!

You: Ooof. Well, I know you were probably looking forward to playing with Jack.

Son: Yeah.

You: And it’s not a lot of fun to go to the dentist. It can be scary.

Son: Uh huh. It is!

You: I know. It sounds to me like you’d rather just play with your legos and relax.

Son: Yes!

You: I know, bubby. It’s time to put your shoes on.

Son: Oh, okaaaay.

Mother and son hugging in sunlight

Notice how much calmer this approach is and how the child doesn’t escalate into a tantrum. This demonstrates what I call Act One Parenting, and it deflates the conflict because:

  • You don’t argue, rationalize or present your case
  • The child feels heard and understood, so they are apt to whine less
  • You don’t try to solve the child’s problem or offer bribes or choices
  • You steadily and calmly hold your position, so the child accepts what is being asked of him and still feels connected to you

How do I know this approach works? Because I’ve taught this approach to thousands of clients over the years and I’ve seen it bring parents and children on the same page to create functioning, happy families. Plus, I’ve used this approach on my child as well, with great success.

A Counterintuitive Approach To Healthier, More Balanced Parenting

Most of us don’t have the tools and skills for effective parenting, often because our own parents didn’t have them, either!

At the same time, we’re busier than ever in today’s hectic world, and I know you don’t have time to sift through all the advice out there. You want to find the help you need quickly, and you want to trust that what you’re learning is best for your family.

That’s why I’ve partnered with Flourish—a community of experts dedicated to improving ALL your relationships, including the one you have with your children.

Mother kissing smiling kid in her arms

When you subscribe to Flourish’s FREE parenting newsletter, you’ll have access to the latest insights and techniques so you can be confident you’re raising your kids as best you can.

Flourish will send you practical advice from their community of hand-picked experts, so you can spend less time worrying about how to parent and more time enjoying this special part of your life. When you subscribe, you’ll learn:

  • How to inspire your child to WANT to cooperate and please you, by showing you exactly how to improve your relationship with him or her
  • How to use Act One Parenting—a technique that stops meltdowns before they start, without resorting to Lawyer or Dictator Mode
  • Ways to empower your child to make good choices without yelling, shaming, criticism, or punishments
  • How to co-parent so your kids feel loved, happy, and secure…no matter what has changed or how you feel about your ex
  • How to get your child to go to bed, finish their homework, and do their chores—without struggle—so you can get your life done, as well

Overall, you’ll discover a different way to parent that is unlike anything you may have seen before. I think you’ll be surprised to learn how you can be more effective as a leader—plus, you’ll feel better knowing you’re raising children who are more resilient and will look up to you for the rest of your life!


Susan Stiffelman

Parent Without Yelling, Power Struggles and Guilt

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