Dr. Rich Patterson

Parenting on Purpose: Influence Your Kids

I would often wonder why I even tried to discipline our kids as a parent.  I mean, after a while, it just doesn’t seem to work!  They take the punishment and then go about their business with a very short or not at all behavior change.   After a while, you wonder what works, what else is there?  There is no doubt about it; there are likely times when kids need some discipline, which varies according to the parenting style.  But what if you were to influence your kids rather than discipline them?

The objective is to change your kids’ behavior to get them to do things differently.  When we discipline kids, they can take it as we don’t care, whether we realize it or not.  That isn’t our intention, but it feels that way to the child.  There are different types of influence.  If there are low levels of power. . . then there are low levels of parenting, which is most of our discipline.  Parenting is influence, and influence comes from valuing our kids.  Kids don’t care about discipline until they know how much you care about them.  When you show that you care, your influence grows in like measure.

In a difficult situation with your child, ask them, “How can I help?”  Then wait for their response and don’t accept, “I don’t know.”  or “You can’t, it’s all me.”  No, we’re not trying to add to the pity party; get them to think about how we can help to clarify something that has happened or how to handle it the next time.  As parents, we often think that working with our kids is all about keeping things going, about keeping them safe and out of trouble.  What if we were to shift to it being all about them?  Then we realize it’s influence . . . and that comes from adding value . . . from really caring.

Zig Ziglar gave us a very insightful statement when he said, ‘you can have what you want . . . if you will help enough other people get what they want.  Many parents don’t understand this. If we help our kids get what they want in terms of appreciation, love, and understanding, they will give us what we want. Ask kids, “What do you need from me?  How can I help you understand this situation or event?”  Instead of getting angry or adding more discipline, your influence begins to leap forward as soon as you say that.

Would you like more ideas?  Here is the link to a post with seven more influences for your kids, Parenting on Purpose: 7 Influences with Your Kids – Dr. Rich Patterson (

Parents are the #1 influence on their kids, or they should be.  Here is an article to make that point very well, Parents are the #1 influence in their children’s lives. (

We don’t often think of raising kids in terms of influence, but it is worth examining more closely.  I hope you will continue to read this thread as I develop it further.

Yours for better parenting,