Dr. Rich Patterson

Parenting on Purpose: Influence Your Kids

As a parent, I would often wonder why I even tried to discipline our kids.  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 change in behavior.   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 type of discipline, which varies according to the parenting style.  But what if you were to influence your kids rather than disciplining them?

The objective is to change behavior in your kids, to get them to do things differently.  When we discipline kids, whether we realize it or not, they can take it as we don’t care.  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 influence . . . then there are low levels of parenting, which much of our discipline would fall in to.  Parenting is influence and influence comes from valuing our kids.  Kids don’t care about the discipline until they know how much you care about them.  When you show that you care, your influence with them grows in like measure.

In a difficult situation with your child simply 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, simply 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 of 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 give 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?”  As soon as you say that instead of getting angry or adding more discipline on, your influence begins to leap forward.

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

Yours for better parenting,