Mom… Dad… Please Read This:

The Seven Key Principles Of Essential Parenting

By Randy L Cale, PhD

Children develop unhealthy or negative patterns for a variety of reasons. As a Licensed Psychologist and parenting specialist, I am often reminding parents that how we got ‘here’ is not as important as how we turn things around.

In this article, I review the seven fundamental principles that form the foundation for fast and lasting change with children and families. These principles guide every parenting intervention that works, and form the foundation for the various parenting solutions I have developed over the years. It will help you to review these fundamentals, and begin to notice how each of these principles point you to the source of your ‘power’ as a parent.

Or maybe these comments by Carol of Saratoga Springs.

Principle #1: You Can’t Escape What You
Model For Your Children.

This has to be number one, because everything flows from the ‘model’ or example you offer to your children.

What do I mean by this?

  • I mean that we can’t loose 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 a negative or critical attitude…our kids will have a critical attitude.
    If I notice more of what’s wrong with life…my kids will notice what’s wrong with their world.
    And…if I am grateful and show appreciation, it’s more likely that my kids will be grateful.
    Or…if I am able to keep my cool and remain at peace in the face of stress, I teach my children how to keep their cool when things aren’t going well.

The real beauty of this principle is that it turns the focus from my child’s behavior, and gets me looking in the mirror. I must start looking at my behavior first—if I am going make a real difference.

In doing so, I now turn back to my 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 by focusing ‘out there.’ In reality, our real power as parents come from our own choices and actions that serve as examples for our children.

So it all begins with what we model, and whether we really walk out talk. When we do, it’s a very positive sign that we can change things quickly. On the other hand, when we are willing to yell, scream, argue or negotiate…the other principles become less important. 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: You Must Invest Your Energy And
Attention On Moments You 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 really value?

In order 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 really 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: You Must Limit The Energy You Invest In Unwanted Or Negative Patterns.

This is the flip side 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 certain and confident about this?

Because this fundamental principle seems to apply for all children:

The Essential Parenting Law:


Their Energy Flows To 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….AND make sure the bulk of your energy is flowing into the behaviors and emotions that you value. I realize that this is easier said than done, but honoring this law is the critical piece behind your parenting power.

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 accutely 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.

Principle #4: Consistent Structure Relieves Chaos… And Teaches Valuable Lessons.

A consistent daily structure provides a remarkable sense of peace and calm 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 children tend to develop a sense of calm and peace. It’s not rocket science here folks…just look around and notice.

Furthermore, when you understand how to use structure to gain control over daily responsibilities, life gets much easier. Often you may hear others mention the need for structure, but the Essential Parenting program actually teaches you how to have structure that makes your life easier, and routines almost effortless.

The leverage you gain from understanding how to structure your home eliminates constant reminding, prodding or negotiating. It will also ensure that you waste no energy on daily routines and instead have time available to discuss topics of importance and value to you and your children.

Principle #5: Gain Exquisite Control Over The Environment… And Give Up Trying To
Control Your Kids.

Kids naturally learn from the consequences of your 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.

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

Principle #6: Teach Limits With Consistent Consequences When Necessary…
Not Words Or Lectures!

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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, we can teach our children to honor limits by using consequences. It won’t happen with threats. It won’t happen with guilt or lectures.

Instead, when learning to get control of your home, you must strive 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 limit is at. They will do so if you strictly enforce limits with consequences, not words.

Principle #7: Eliminate Choices

Ouch! This sounds really extreme.

So let me explain. In our culture, we have been told that our children need choices. Yet, this has been misinterpreted, and most families end up in serious trouble. Teens are constantly arguing about limits, and often ignoring curfews and responsibilities. Young children waste hours negotiating over meals, clothes, bath time and how much TV or video they can play.

Life gets wasted…with growing negotiations and discussions over daily responsibilites that simply must be done.

This is a much more serious problem that it appears, and research suggests that wasting energy with arguments over getting out of bed, what’s for breakfast or whether to watch TV during breakfast — all wastes valuable decision making energy. These wasted moments reduce the amount of ‘decision-making juice’ children have available during the day.

The bottom line: Simplify.

The more we can simply choices — the easier and smoother life will be.

Oh…you will get some resistance. That’s expected. Just don’t argue, and move forward…firm in your resolve.


There you have it. The seven principles behind every successful parenting solution. These principles are infused in the Essential Parenting formula you find here. Please remember: you can always return to this page, and often you will find some combination of these core principles involved in every successful strategy I teach in this program.

In many ways, the mastery of parenting involves recognizing how each of these principles can be applied to any particular situation and then developing parenting 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 the 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 actually 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 a picky eating, whining, , tantrums , homework battles , morning , bedtime routine struggles , problems with kids picking up their stuff or battles between siblings…you will find that the Essential Parenting program provides you will clear, proven strategies you can put to work immediately.

This program will turn things around in your home, and is guaranteed to bring you success. Everything you purchase from me is guaranteed to bring you the relief you seek…or your money back. It’s that simple. There is no risk. If you are in need of help…you can get it here now.

The Essential Parenting Home Study Program

Randy L. Cale, PhD.
Licensed Psychologist