Systematic Training for Effective Parenting

The growing interests of parents in the nurturing of their children in the recent decades reflect the challenges faced by the same due to societal behavioral change. The society we live in today has and is still evolving so much that the child rearing strategies have to change to counter the challenges posed by the same. Consequently, the old parenting strategies have become obsolete paving way for contemporary and noble strategies which are more effective. One such recent strategy is ‘Systematic Training for Effective Parenting (STEP)’. This strategy is the brainchild of Dreikurs, Don Dinkmeyer and Gary McKay whose principles are based on Alfred Adler, a psychiatrist.

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Adlerian approach advocates for the existence of a democratic space within a family that is liberal yet firm with its rules. The essence of this approach is to nature a socially responsible child (Dinkmeyer, 1979). This principle focuses on the root cause of a misbehaving child and the reaction of the parent towards the same as vital in determining the fate of a misbehaving child. This principle gives guidance on how to react on different situations to prevent the child from going astray. However, just like any other strategy, STEP has its own merits and demerits. This gives a reason for the development of many other strategies that have tried to seal the loopholes in STEP strategy. In a nutshell, this paper will focus on the principles in STEP strategy as well as focusing on its strength and weaknesses.

STEP strategy is among the many modern child rearing strategies that have come up courtesy of the growing societal challenges that parents continue to grapple with to date. This strategy, which is based on Adlerian principles, calls for the existence of a democratic space between the child and the parent. This strategy advocates for broadmindedness when tackling issues while at the same time observing mutual respect between the parties involved (Dinkmeyer, 1979). This strategy gives room for the child to express his/her views, and a consensus reached in order to avert conflicting interests. However, this strategy demands that the parents ought to exercise this democratic space within the rules that govern disciplinary cases. They should not compromise these rules and as such, they groom the child to be socially responsible.

This strategy, which is produced in different languages, is given to parents as a comprehensive kit with videos and the number of sessions per week. The kit goes an extra mile to cover drug abuse information and how to handle it. According to Adler, the understanding of the behavior is a giant step towards unearthing the root cause of the problem. The underlying principle in understanding a behavior is that it is normally purposeful in order to achieve a particular goal. Adler further explains that the intent of misbehaving is purposefully to achieve one of the following goals: ‘attention getting, power, revenge, and display of inadequacy’ (Dinkmeyer, 1979).

The child’s behavior retrogresses in that order if not halted initially. The response of the parent will always determine the direction taken by the child. In most cases, these children are normally discouraged and as such, they choose to belong to ‘misbehavior’. As per the principles of STEP, the response of the parent towards the first goal should either be unusually or just assume the child. With regards to the second goal, STEP advises that the parent should desist from power struggle lest the child retrogrades to the third goal. When the situation goes out of hand to the third goal, STEP advises against retaliation instead, show goodwill. Ultimately, when the child turns to the worst, ‘display of inadequacy’, STEP advises against criticism instead focus on the child’s strong points. This will encourage the child towards a positive direction.

All in all as parents STEP principles advocate for a responsible parent rather than a good parent. The difference between the two is that the former is liberal while the later is selfish and as such, he/she experiences rebellion from a child. On handling the child, this strategy emphasizes on an open rather than a closed response thereby giving the child a chance to express his/her feelings. This is achieved through expressive as well as receptive kind of communication coupled with reflective listening. According to STEP, expressive kind of communication encompasses three elements that include: problem ownership, “I” massages and, exploring alternatives (Bradley 1993).

These elements take care of how different situations should be handled in a calm yet prudent manner. For instance, as regards to ‘exploring alternatives’, one can decide to use ‘Natural and Logical Consequence’ instead of rewards and punishments. This exposes the child to the natural repercussions of misbehavior and as such nurture him/her as a responsible child.

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STEP strategy is a comprehensive document that tackles a wide range of challenges experienced by the parent. It equally gives the child an opportunity to express his/her feelings thereby shaping his/her character to a responsible child. This strategy is focused on a mutual understanding between the child and the parent and hence unifies the family. The strategy is geared towards recovery rather than neglect. However, the weakness of this strategy is that if the parent is not strict, the child may misuse the freedom given and start misbehaving (Catania 1985).

In a conclusion, STEP strategy is a liberal strategy yet a rational way of handling and molding a responsible child. This strategy gives an equal opportunity to the child to express his/her mind openly thus nurturing wisdom in her. However, this is achievable only when the parent is firm with disciplinary rules.


Bradley, E. C. (1993). The relationship between parent characteristics and effects of Systematic Training for Effective Parenting on parenting style and behaviors. Florida: University of Florida College Press. Web.

Catania, L. L. (1985). Parent education as part of a comprehensive drug rehabilitation program. New York: Fordham University Press. Web.

Dinkmeyer, D. (1979). A comprehensive and systematic approach to parent education.Journal of Family Therapy, 7(2), 46–50. Web.

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