The Seven Key Principles of Terrific Parenting

In my view, seven fundamental principles form the foundation for effective change and growth with children and families.

In this article, I will summarize the seven principles that are the driving force behind the proven strategies and solutions contained in my discussions, and in the products that are available on

Principle #1: You can’t escape what you model for your children.

This has to be number one because everything flows from the model you offer to your children.

What do I mean by this?

I mean that we can’t lose our temper, and yell at our kids when we don’t get what we want…

…and then expect our children not to get upset when they don’t get what they want.

I mean that we can’t speak to our kids in a demanding fashion, such as “PICK THAT UP NOW.”…and not expect our kids to be demanding and disrespectful to us when they want something from us.

I also mean that if we have attitude… our kids will have attitude.

If I notice more of what’s wrong with life… my kids will notice what’s wrong with their world.

The real beauty of this is that it turns the focus from our children, back to our source of power (ME!). The more that we put our energy and attention into our children’s behavior, and try to control it, the more we surrender our true power… which is our behavior and how we react and respond to our children’s behavior.

So it all begins with what we model. When parents try to seek a solution that requires their children to be better-behaved, and then state something like… “I’ll be calmer once they are calmer.”…well, it doesn’t work that way.

We must lead. Our children will follow. That’s the bottom line.

Principle #2: Make certain that most of your energy flows… to what you want and value.

If we look back over the past year, what have you given most of your energy and attention? Is it moments of calm? Is it a thoughtful action? Is it a helpful response? Is it responsibility in action? Is it loving? Is it what you value?

To create a healthy, loving, and peaceful home, you must be investing the bulk of your energy and attention into moments of healthy, happy, successful, and productive behavior.

This is the most powerful tool for producing a long-term, permanent impact upon your children and your family. It sounds like positive reinforcement, but it’s much more than that! It’s about capturing the influence you are constantly having on the actions and choices of your children…and not letting it slip away!

Principle #3: Invest limited energy in behavior that you don’t want and don’t value.

This is a corollary principle to number two above. If you find yourself consistently investing lots of energy and effort into behavior that you don’t want, you are headed down the path to failure. How can I be so blunt about this? How can I be so certain?

Because this fundamental principle seems to apply to all children:

Their Energy Flows Where Your Attention Consistently Goes!

So the bottom line here is that we need to find a way to pull your energy and attention out of the behaviors that you don’t want. I realize that this is easier said than done, but it is the critical piece behind many of these interventions.

If there is magic in this world… the magic stems from understanding the power of using precision in what gets your attention and what gets your energy as a parent.

By precision, I mean that you remain intimately aware of the moment-by-moment choices that you are making, and where you are putting your energies and attention. If problem behavior keeps sucking you in, you’ll keep having problems.

On the other hand, if you can begin to walk away and consistently ignore the ugly behavior… unwanted behavior… the challenging behavior… then it will go away.

But only most of the time! And that can be delightful!

Principle #4: Consistent structure provides peace… and teaches valuable lessons.

A consistent daily structure provides a remarkable sense of peace and calms for kids. In today’s society, many families find themselves sprinting from one event to another, and they are in a constant whirlwind of activity. There is no peace in this lifestyle.

Please don’t get me wrong here, I am all for activity, but not this frenetic, constant movement, from one thing to another.

All we have to do is to notice how much opportunity is present in our day-to-day lives for our children to experience a sense of predictability and calm. The more straightforward and predictable the daily routines, the more their children tend to develop a sense of calm and peace. It’s not rocket science here folks… just look around and notice.

Furthermore, this consistent daily structure, such as the “work, then play” structure that I advocate, also provides for a system that reinforces responsibility and discipline. When we look at successful students, and successful adults, we consistently see the application of this formula. Work is completed…and then play (downtime) is enjoyed. So the bottom line here is: set up a consistent daily structure.

Make sure that kids do their work, and then they play. This is a principle that allows many of the other pieces to fall together with relative ease. Notice that structure does not require you to force the kids to get their work done! NO… NOT NECESSARY!

Instead, you take advantage of the leverage of play. You simply allow kids to resist or fight to do their work. If they don’t do their work, no play. This leads to the next principle.

Principle #5: Gain exquisite control over the environment

… and give up trying to control your kids.

Kids naturally learn from the consequences of their choices. You don’t have to force it. You don’t have to push it. You don’t have to yell at it. Kids learn. End of story.

The more you try to use your demanding, loud words and your parental power to “force” kids to listen, the more you engender a deep sense of resistance or fear.

While fear may produce a relatively compliant child, this is not necessarily a healthy child.

And on the other hand, there are those children who are more difficult and oppositional. The more controlling and demanding you are with those children, the more they will fight back. Your preadolescent and teenage years will become a nightmare.

The solution: focus your energies on controlling the environment. Don’t focus on controlling kids.

A great example is contained in the principle above, where you establish a home where work is completed before play is engaged. In this situation, it means that you are willing to take exquisite control of the home environment. The TV, the computer, the Gameboy, the phone, the keys to the car, and the access to the toy room… you can control it all!

You can easily control all of that to make sure that no play occurs… before the work is done.

This simple concept allows you to move in the direction of becoming a parent of action… not excessive words. Fewer words and more action mean that your words will have value and merit when you need them.

Principle #6: Set limits with consistent consequences when necessary… not words or lectures!

What do I mean by this? I mean don’t worry about the small stuff. Return to principle three above, and make sure that you aren’t giving energy to the whining, complaining, procrastinating, negotiating, disrespectful, ugly behavior that can just be ignored.

So, this means you just ignore the small stuff. Watch carefully, and notice that contrary to your fears… the small stuff just seems to fade away… like winter giving way to spring.

And instead, when things are severe and out of hand, you set a limit on such behavior by using consequences. You are striving to consistently be a parent of action when it comes to setting limits. Don’t use yelling or threats. Don’t talk about what will happen. Instead… take action. You want kids to learn where the line is at. They will do so if you strictly enforce limits with consequences, not words.

Principle #7: Put your energy into the moments that represent valued behavior…and the outcomes will take care of themselves.

While this is a bit of an extension of principle number two, I have put this as a final point because it allows you to relax about your child’s self-esteem and performance. I strongly encourage you to notice what happens when you start investing your energy into the “moments” that you value and appreciate.

When your kids are being loving, you touch them on the shoulder.

When your kids are doing their homework, you walk by and smile.

When your kids are playing cooperatively, you give them a wink.

Over time, you consistently put your energy into these moments…and stay present at the moment. Don’t worry about the outcome, and you will find this magical process begins to unfold where more and more of these moments begin to emerge and expand. It’s like the good stuff just starts growing. As you find more cooperation… as you find more pleasantness… as you find more kindness…even as you find more effort and hard work AND NOTICE THOSE MOMENTS WHILE THEY ARE HAPPENING… those moments begin to expand.

The more your kids experience those moments, the more the outcomes that are important in life take care of themselves.

They learn to do their best because you notice their effort at doing their best. You don’t have to worry about whether it’s an A, or B, or a C… if you know your kids did their best.

How can you be certain they will do their best? You do this by paying attention to the hard effort that goes into producing the outcome. We can’t ignore effort for 8 weeks, and then think a lecture will communicate that we care about all the effort we ignored.

There you have it. The seven principles behind everything I do here at terrific parenting. When you order a product or read a solution on this website, you can always return to this page, and often you will find some combination of these core principles involved.

In many ways, the mastery of parenting involves recognizing how each of these principles can be applied to any particular situation and then developing a strategy based on those principles. When you do so, you find that all children get it. Some get it a little faster. Some get it a little slower. But they all get it. (That is as long as you get it!)

You may want to read some of the specific articles under parenting problems, to explore how these principles apply to specific situations. If you are experiencing a significant struggle, I encourage you to consider one of the products located in the online store. I am confident that you will find a solution that can make a difference.

Keep all of these principles in mind as you move through your days ahead. Granted…it’s easier to talk in general terms and much harder to commit to the action that will make a difference. However, in each of the Parenting Solutions, you find here, there is a specific formula that almost every parent can follow to get your kids on track.

Whether you are dealing with picky eating, whining, tantrums, homework battles, morning, bedtime routine struggles, problems with kids picking up their stuff, or battles between siblings… you will find a specific proven formula that is guaranteed to bring you success. Everything you purchase through Terrific Parenting is guaranteed to bring you the relief you seek… or your money back. It’s that simple. There is no risk. If you require help… you can get it here now.