Creative Child

Changing Your Mindset for Happier Parenting

by Rebecca Eanes

Most of us had parents who operated from a fear-based mindset. As a result, we may have naturally adopted that mindset as our own, and that negative or fear-based mindset could be what we are operating from each day, affecting every interaction and decision.

The fear-based mindset says:
1. I have to control my child’s behavior.
2. My child learns through consequences and/or punishment not to repeat bad behavior.
3. I am the dominant figure; my child is under me.

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Here’s how to tell if you are parenting from a fear-based mindset. Do you use time-outs, counting to three, or threats of punishment to change behavior? Do you physically punish your child? Do you set no limits or weak limits because you want your child to like you? Do you fail to discipline altogether?


Both authoritarian and permissive parenting styles come from a fear-based mindset. Authoritarian parents fear losing control of their children. The focus is on obedience and punishing disobedience. Permissive parents fear losing their child’s affection or love. Neither of these have been shown to produce positive outcomes. Research shows that children who grow up with strict authoritarian parents do follow rules much of the time, but this obedience comes at the price of low self-esteem and increased aggression and hostility. Likewise, kids with permissive parents also often have low self-esteem along with behavioral problems and even a higher risk of health problems, like obesity.

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Because many of us were parented punitively, we learned early on that this is how children are raised. This makes shifting our mindset a challenging but important step in becoming conscious, positive parents. You essentially must re-wire your brain to think about children and parenting in a new way, and this requires important self-work. The good news is that positive – or authoritative – parenting is shown to have the best outcome!

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