Understand the Method

Do you enjoy feeling when someone is trying to change you? What if your spouse asked you to change something and you didn’t see the point? You think, “What’s wrong with me now? Am I not good enough for you?”

But here we are, as parents, constantly trying to change our children. Make them better, kinder, more responsible, etc. etc. etc. Do we stop and consider what it must feel like to never be meeting the standards set for us by someone else?

In order for a parenting method to cause a change, you need to be sensitive to the person you’re trying to change. In other words, you have to consider the subtleties and qualities that make your child unique. And take those things into consideration so you can work the method in a way that is best for them. In a way that doesn’t leave them feeling like they’re not good enough. In a way that lets them know they are unconditionally loved.

What you need to do is know your method well enough to make it work best for your child.

Technique Torture

Too often, we put too much faith in the instant fix. We read about the latest parenting technique to “have a new kid in three easy steps”. We follow the guidelines rigidly, not taking into account that our children are not like the author’s children. Or the children in the study.

And not surprisingly, we give up in frustration after two days, leaving our child confused and irritated.

We think, “Who does this person think they are? This doesn’t work for me! So much for having a new kid in three easy steps!”

Before you throw the next greatest parenting trick out the window, let’s take some time to examine it. If you take the time to study the method and figure out how to make it work for you and your child.

You may have stumbled upon diamonds that simply need a bit of polishing to bring out its true value.

To attach or not to attach, that is the question.

Let’s imagine that someone has seen your angry two year old and they tell you about how wonderful attachment parenting has been for them. You go home and read up about it and you find lots of stories of how attachment parenting has transformed angry children into calm little angels.

“Wow,” you think, “I have to give this a try! I’m at the end of my rope!”

You start hugging your child whenever he is angry. He pushes against you and knocks off your glasses.

You try co-sleeping and he kicks your face in the middle of the night, leaving you with a bloody nose and awake until 4 am. You try having him sleep beside you on a mattress, but his open-mouthed breathing ruins two more nights of sleep before you finally put him back in his room.

You eliminate time-outs and try playful parenting instead. This turns into a game for him – but not you – until you finally run out of energy, scream at him, and give up. Attachment parenting is stupid!

Should you throw the baby out with the bath water?

Before you throw attachment parenting completely out the window, let’s break it down. What are the techniques? How can you apply the techniques in a way that your child is likely to respond to? If you can fully understand the method, you can then be flexible in its implementation.

Rather than hugging when your child is upset, why not just be close by to offer a hug when your child is ready? Don’t force the hug.

Rather than co-sleeping, why not cuddle your son in his bed each night and invite him to come cuddle with you in the morning after he wakes up?

Rather than eliminate time-outs – that is, if they’re working for you – why not end each time-out with some special bonding time? If your child needs to calm down, perhaps the time-out ends with reading a favourite book together. If your child has been sent away to their room because they were throwing toys, work that playful parenting part into it after the time-out is over. You can make a game of cleaning up the toys that he threw.

If you pay attention to the technique – and your child – you can take ANY technique and make it work uniquely for your child. This requires sensitivity, creativity, and flexibility from you as the parent.

Recipe for Tool #16 :


  • One parenting technique that has ‘failed’,
  • One creative parent who sees their child as unique,
  • One unique child who wants love and acceptance.

Step 1 – Quick Parenting Trick Fails

You’ve given that over-rated quick-parenting-trick a try. It doesn’t work. Set it aside and move on to step 2.

Step 2 – Look at Your Child

What’s currently working for you and your child right now? Or what needs an upgrade? Can you incorporate the method you just tried into what currently works?

Study your child. What do they balk at? What is it about the new method that rubs them completely the wrong way? Is there a way to change something about it to make it work for you?

Step 3 – Flexible Testing

OK, it’s back to testing. This time, tread slower. Approach with caution and compassion. Spend more time observing and less time implementing. What does your child truly need at this moment and how can you give it to them?

Always, always be gracious to your child, to yourself, and to the method.

In the end, what matters most is not how well your child behaved today, or one month from now. What matters is that you met your child’s needs with sensitivity. By letting your love for your child precede all your actions, you will eventually raise up an adult both you and your child will love and be proud of.


HB is a roller coaster father, one minute he is ecstatic about his children, the next he wonders if life will ever get any better. A long standing member of the 'I yell at my kids' club, he writes with passion and an analytical mind. Dissecting and separating the nuanced strategies that make a good parent great. He experiments with parenting techniques on his 3 year old so you don't have to.

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