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Erik Erikson was an American developmental psychologist known for his theory on psychosocial development. He identified eight stages of human development through which a person should pass from birth to death: infancy, early childhood, play age, school age, adolescence, early adulthood, adulthood and old age.   Just as their children advance through the stages of development, parents pass through four stages of parenting as their children mature.  We call these stages the Seasons of Parenthood, and similar to a child conquering developmental tasks at each stage, parents have milestones to master.


Season 1, the “Season of Service” encompasses Erikson’s infancy and early childhood stages.  The young child is dependent upon his/her parents and is the center of the universe around which the parents orbit.  During this season, the male parent may take a less active role in the child’s day to day care.  There is less time and energy to devote to the marriage which may lead to decreased intimacy, less one-on-one time and less attention paid to the needs of each spouse by the other.  Parents are busy micromanaging the child’s life.

The key questions to ask and answer during this season of parenting are: as our child matures and becomes more independent, what does less orbiting around our child look like?  How will we shift from passively performing tasks for our child into more active authority with our child.  How do we introduce discipline and consequences?

If you’re a parent in this season, the first thing you should do is make a list of your family values.  House rules grow out of your family values.  Write down your agreed family rules and limits.  For example, if you’re going to start using time out consistently when your child is three or four, pre-determine and write down the who, what, when, and how.

  • Who will be in charge of time-outs?  Will it be Mom, dad, grandparent, caregiver, or all of you?
  •  Under what circumstances will time out be used?  If your child initially says “no” but after a warning, does pick up his toys, will there be a time out?
  • When will time outs be used?  Will you use time outs anywhere you go or will you just use time out at home.
  • How will time outs be served?  Will your child sit on a step, in a corner, on a special chair?  Will you use a timer?  How many minutes will your child serve in time out?

The two most important features of discipline during this season of parenthood are consistency and predictability.  Your child craves and depends on consistency so that he or she can learn to trust the world around him or her.  Having predictable consequences helps your child make a conscious choice as to whether violating a rule is worth earning the consequence.

Remember the phrase “catch ‘em being good”?  It’s good advice for all stages of parenthood.  There is no better way to reinforce positive behavior than to lavish attention and praise on your child for his or her good behavior choices.

Finally, write yourself a mental prescription to nurture your child at least three times a day, at times and places not connected to any behaviors.  Deliver random hugs, kisses, I love yous and snuggles.  Play with bubbles, do silly dances together, make fruit faces on their pancakes.  Increase your child’s security, self- esteem and sense of belonging by showing your children you love them just because they are.

If you’re already past this season, stay tuned for Seasons 2-4 in upcoming blog posts!




From My book ” Parenting Your Out of Control Teenager”   Top 7 Reasons are:

1)  Unclear Rules

One of the biggest reasons your teen may be out of control is that you don’t have a clear, written contract with him or her. Your rules and consequences are verbal, open to interpretation, or made up as you go along. For example, you may declare a rule of “no disrespect” but fail to specify what your teen does or says that is considered disrespectful. Your teen, who is not only literal-minded but very concrete, now has the perfect loophole and can argue, “You never said that swearing was disrespectful.” (I call this “literal disease.”). (For examples of a written contract, view our Sample Contracts).

2) Not Keeping up with your Teens Thinking

Out-of-control teens can defeat you and make you back down through a special gift called enhanced social perception. Your teen can run through as many different scenarios in their mind as necessary to find a loophole in your rule or consequence.

3) Button-Pushing

Another major factor in teen misbehavior is “button-pushing.” If your teen doesn’t want to do something you ask, he or she often will start pushing your “hot buttons” to make you angry or frustrated. For some of you, these hot buttons are swearing or rolling the eyes. For others, it is statements like “I hate you,” “You’re not my real father,” or “I don’t have to listen to you.” Your teenager has an uncanny ability to know exactly what your buttons are and how to push them.

4) Teenager Drunk with Power

When your teenager is able to control the mood of your household and your life through extreme behavior, he or she takes on the power of an adult without being developmentally ready. At ages twelve through eighteen, your teen’s time and energy should go toward being a kid, going to school, playing sports, dating, getting a job, and preparing to leave home. Instead, your out-of-control teen uses thatsame energy to figure out how to stay in control of your household and get one over on you or other adults.

5) The Pleasure Principle

Why do so many of us eat junk food, smoke, or never exercise, even though we know that doing so may eventually lead to obesity, lung cancer, or a heart attack? Because of what’s called the “pleasure principle,” living for the moment or for what gives us immediate gratification rather than thinking about our future.

This is the same way your out-of-control teenager thinks nearly all of the time. He or she cannot see past tomorrow, let alone next week. Many teens have come to expect instant gratification. This is why guilt trips, logical reasoning, and traditional punishments often fail. Your punishments or lectures are not strong enough to compete with the immediate pleasures that come with bad behavior.

6) Peer Power

Today’s peer groups have a tremendous hold on your teen’s heart, mind, and soul. If it is a positive peer group with good morals and values, your teen can thrive. But if the group has poor values and exhibits negative behavior, your teen is likely to get more and more out of control.

7) Misuse of Outside Forces

The misuse of outside forces is a final reason for your teen’s misbehavior. In today’s world, more and more of us are handing over our teenagers to outsiders like counselors, psychiatrists, hospitals, boot camps, or medication to “fix” them. What may initially look like the answer, however, can quickly become a double-edged sword. Even though your teen may change miraculously in a boot camp, detention center, group home, or counselor’s office, often the same problems start up again soon after he or she returns home, comes off probation, or stops seeing the counselor. The reason is simple. Outside experts did all the work to turn your teen around, not you. Therefore, there is no reason for the teen to respect or obey you back home.

If these reasons above feel familiar in your household, consider setting up an appointment to talk with a professional counselor, who can help you navigate your teen or child’s behavior. Feel free to contact us to begin getting help.

“Good therapy that starts right finishes right”