When questioned by your child about something you ask them to do or say, is it tempting to simply respond with: “Because I said so”? Of course, it is. If your child is behaving in a way that is not acceptable to you, do you sometimes want to yell at them or threaten them with punishment or a spanking? Most parents, at times, feel like they just want to take action that will make their child behave.

But as we discussed in an earlier article about punishment versus consequences, these parenting strategies are usually not effective in the long run. Why? They rely on intimidation for the sake of gaining control or power over a situation but don’t teach a child about better choices.

True power is based on love, compassion and understanding.

Children are most influenced by those with whom they feel the deepest respect and strongest connections. They learn best when encouraged, not criticized. This is particularly true of children with low self-esteem and a negative self-image. Your child only will follow your lead if they want to — and they will want to only if they feel good about you and positively connected with you.

Connection Parenting vs. Control Parenting

Parenting approaches are based on either connection or control. The goal of connection-oriented parenting is to establish a respectful, trusting and reciprocal relationship. This results in your child being motivated to accept your advice, follow your lead and internalize your values.

The goal of control-oriented parenting is to change the child by modifying behavior. It relies on negativity, aggression, criticism, intimidation and rejection. This may result in short-term compliance out of fear. But in the long-term, your child will become motivated to struggle for power, reject your suggestions and keep away from you.

Connection Control
Parenting for connection is reciprocal and interactive, a sharing of ideas and influence.Parenting for control is dominant-submissive with the emphasis on compliance to overbearing authority.
Parenting for connection focuses on the positive. Parenting for control involves criticism and focuses on the negative.
Parenting for connection is characterized by two-way respect, with parent and child respecting one another. Respect flows only one way in control-oriented parenting. The child is expected to show respect for his parent; respect is demanded, not earned.
Cooperation is encouraged in connection-oriented parenting, such as at times when parent and child work together to solve a problem.Cooperation is encouraged in connection-oriented parenting, such as at times when parent and child work together to solve a problem. Control-oriented parenting uses confrontation, which leads to hostility and defiance.
Parents using a connection approach, teach through by providing reasonable consequences.Parents using a control approach tend to be punitive, angry and vindictive.
Connection-oriented parenting highlights the primacy of the parent-child relationship.Control orientation places the focus on changing the child’s behavior.
Parenting for connection is based on a model of health and skills-building and the flow of resources to gain positive outcomes. Parenting for control is based on a model of illness (or a problem) that focuses on a child’s pathology and deficits with the goal of correction.
Connection-oriented parents use an assertive communication style that is clear, direct and non-threatening. (Firm, but empathetic)Control-oriented parents are aggressive and hostile in their communication style. It often involves yelling and threatening.

A connection approach results in a desire to comply because of genuine caring. Parenting that emphasizes connection offers children choices and helps them learn to be responsible and accountable for their actions. When a child feels connected, they care about other people and the impact of their behaviors. This results in a desire to cooperate because of the love and trust that is established between parent and child.