Parenting Styles and Proven Tools for Dealing with Child Misbehavior

This is the second installment in a four part series on effective parenting skills. The text of this article has been condensed for the purposes of this blog.

Learning to find balance and faith in our children’s ability to behave appropriately

3. So, what’s the answer to effective parenting?

The answer is balance as well as perseverance, and being consistent in the balancing act. As parents, we want to find the middle place between two extremes. This middle place is known as an authoritative parenting style by some theoreticians and democratic by others. We want fair boundaries and supervision for our children with the help of reasonable demands, limit-setting, and consequences. This is balanced with understanding, caring, and support, fostering an appropriate climate for children to develop into self-reliant adolescents with adequate self-esteem. Factors that add to a child’s developmental process help every parent see better outcomes.

4. Don’t focus on the trees and miss the forest.

The greatest reward for most parents is when their children trust them or consider their opinion. The strength of this parent-child emotional bond provides a protective factor against a range of children’s negative behaviors and social problems, such as violence, drug use, unintended pregnancies, and so on. This trusting and respectful relationship is out of reach, however, if we don’t pull together our soft and strict sides to provide balanced guidance and parenting.

Practicing a democratic or authoritative parenting style requires examination of our values and beliefs about parenting and the motivation behind our disciplining tactics. We need to evaluate the resources and tools that we have in order to provide enough guidance for our children. Some very practical tools about natural and logical consequences can be found in the positive discipline that grew out of the work of psychiatrist Alfred Adler and his followers.

5. Natural and logical consequences

Every behavior has a purpose and there’s a reason for every child’s misbehavior. Alfred Adler’s notion that a misbehaving child is a discouraged child explains why children engage in negative behaviors. We need to examine and understand these behaviors in order to identify a child’s strengths and find genuine opportunities to encourage them.

In any situation involving misbehavior, parents should start by expressing faith in their child’s ability to behave appropriately. Demonstrating respect for the child and treating him with dignity even during moments of misbehavior will model to the child that he should respect himself and others. What follows is helping him look beyond this moment and this emotion to see how he can make better choices, can monitor his feelings, and cope with situations that provoke him.

Explaining to children how choices have attached consequences teaches them to correct their behavior. Parents are then able to take a more neutral approach by empathizing with the child and supporting her instead of lecturing, criticizing, or moralizing. Parental neutrality allows the situation to teach the child, so she starts connecting positive and negative choices with the natural or logical consequences that follow them.

If you are, or someone you know is, struggling with parenting contact us at Barrington Behavioral Health and Wellness. Phone: 888-261-2178 or email:

Dr. Vilija Ball, Psy.D., LCP

Dr. Ball works with adults of all ages, adolescents, children, families, and couples from diverse backgrounds and cultures, connecting with, and empowering them, to seek growth, meaning, and fulfillment in their lives.

Dr. Ball received her Doctoral Degree from Adler University in Chicago, Illinois where she obtained additional training in group psychotherapy.

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