Your Parenting Style and Why It Matters

Knock back power struggles by making some minor changes to how you interact with your kids. You’ll learn why interactions and communications make a big difference, and how to use what you know to set a cooperative tone in your home.

Ego States of Personality

The Ego States of Personality are based on the theory of Transactional Analysis developed by Eric Berne in the 1950’s. His theories remain in use today and continue to be further developed.

Transactional Analysis (TA) is the method of examining how we communicate and interact with each other. Eric Berne said that each person has three alter ego states: Parent, Adult and Child.

Read on to learn more about the Ego States of Personality and how the interactions you have with your kids can impact behavior.

Adult Ego State

The Adult Ego State is the non-emotional, rationally thinking personality state. The Adult Ego State operates when we’re thinking, reasoning, and processing information. It is sometimes described as the “accountant” Ego State – non-emotional actions based on acquired data.

Adults operate in the Adult Ego State at work, in meetings, and in other non-emotional adult-to-adult interactions. Children operate in the Adult Ego State when they are in school.

Parents are often amazed that their children are so “well behaved” at school in contrast to their behavior at home. In school, both the teacher and the child operate in the Adult Ego State. If the teacher moved into the Parent Ego State and began “ordering, correcting, and directing,” the classroom dynamic would negatively change. Likewise, if the child went into the high-emotion Child Ego State, the situation would deteriorate.

Impact on Child Behavior:

Communicating with children from the Adult Ego State is more respectful than from the Parent Ego State and yields better results. Children and adults are inclined to react cooperatively when we communicate from the non-emotional Adult Ego State as opposed to the bossy Parent Ego State.

You can reduce power struggles, increase cooperation and improve your relationship with your children by communicating more from the non-emotional, non-judgmental Adult Ego State. Read on to learn more about the power of the Child Ego State.

Child Ego State

The Child Ego State represents the high-emotion personality. In this ego state, we experience deep belly laughs, pure delight, and impulsive responses. On the negative side, the Child Ego State is displayed in tantrums, “losing it,” road rage, etc.

Children spend most of their time in the Child Ego State. As they grow, they spend less time in that state. Adults spend very little time in the Child Ego State.

Parents communicate most often from the Parent Ego State (ordering, correcting and directing) and spend very little time in the positive side of the Child Ego State.

Impact on Child Behavior:

Just as you react differently to the approaches people use with you (think about everyone from annoying coworkers to your best friends), your child will also vary her reactions partly based on the mind-set you adopt when communicating with her. Read on to consider how Ego States affect your relationship with your child.

Impact on Behavior

Q: In which ego state do our kids enjoy us most?
A: The Child Ego State.

Remember when laughing, enjoying life and having no cares in the world used to come so naturally? This is what our kids want from us more than anything else. They want to have fun with us. They want us to play with them!

In fact, the Child Ego State is the one in which the strongest emotional connections are made.

Q: In which ego state do kids enjoy us least?
A: The Parent Ego State.

Too much ordering, correcting and directing almost always results in power struggles—and no wonder. Like anyone else, kids dislike being bossed around, and they tell us so with tantrums, back talk, arguing, negotiating and more.

Q: In which ego state do parents spend most of their time?
A: The Parent Ego State.

Hmmm… that’s a problem. Our kids want us in the Child Ego State. We spend most of our time in the Parent Ego State. This may give you some insight as to why you may find yourself frequently engaged in power struggles with your children.

The most powerful thing you can do to reduce attention-seeking behaviors and reduce power struggles is to spend more time in the Child Ego State!

In the next lesson, you’ll learn how to spend more time in the Child Ego State as you discover the first tool in The Toolbox.