The Vital Connection
Part I of Power to Parent

In order for parenting to work, children - including teenagers - must be in right relationship to their parents. Nothing is more crucial or pivotal in parenting than this seldom recognized or addressed factor. In this course, Dr. Neufeld explains the concept of right relationship, providing practical suggestions for parenting children of all ages with attachment in mind.

This course is the foundation of the Power to Parent series. Children are meant to be raised in the context of their attachments to the adults responsible and nothing will work right unless this context is cultivated and preserved.

Topics include:

  • dealing with resistance and oppositionality in children
  • addressing the roots of aggression
  • preventing being replaced by competing attachments
  • disciplining in ways that do not divide
  • addressing separation problems and anxieties
  • raising children who are capable of deep and fulfilling relationships
  • dealing with kids who seek to dominate instead of depend on their parents


Return to Courses page or scroll down for more information on the Power to Parent series and Dr. Neufeld's attachment-based developmental approach.


Helping Children Grow Up
Part II of Power to Parent

How do we nurture our children and provide the necessary elements for growth? How do we remove the impediments to becoming their own persons? Building on the foundation of relationship from Part I of the series, this sequel focuses on how to help children realize their potential as human beings. Growing older is no guarantee of growing up. Childhood is when most of the growing up should occur but we need to know how to cultivate the maturing process. This course sheds light on the adult`s role in the miracle of maturation.

Topics include:

  • nature`s role in maturation
  • the parent`s role in maturation
  • how to give children the rest they need to grow
  • how to fulfill a child`s attachment hunger
  • how to instill confidence in ourselves as providers
  • how to keep the connection safe and secure
  • how attachment gives birth to emergence
  • how to draw out emergent activity
  • how to get a child into the driver`s seat
  • how nature moves a child to adapt
  • why some children lose their tears and what the cost is
  • what futilities children need to face
  • how to present futility to a child and draw out sadness
  • the natural solution to impulsiveness and egocentrism
  • the dangers of hurried parenting
  • nature`s blueprint for building character
  • how to set the stage for mixed feelings
  • how to use `tempering` as a discipline technique

Common Challenges
Part III of Power to Parent

Raising children is rewarding, but not always easy! Every child gets stuck from time to time on the road to maturation and every parent faces challenges at some point on the journey. At these times, we could all benefit from experienced insight and practical suggestions that are in the best interest of our children.

In the first part of the Power to Parent series, The Vital Connection, we looked at the importance of relationship; in the second part, Helping Children Grow Up, we looked at the adult’s role in the miracle of maturation. In this course, Common Challenges, we look at effective and safe practices that honour and preserve the relationship, even when the problems seem daunting. In making sense of our child’s experience, we will be better equipped to lead them through challenging times.

Although some attention is given to the more perplexing problems of childhood, the general thrust of the course concerns issues and challenges facing most every parent. The material is applicable to children of all ages.

Topics include:

  • recognizing the signs of a child in trouble
  • the signs of stuckness
  • the signs of a vulnerability too much to bear
  • understanding the roots of behaviour
  • the challenges of parenting a sensitive child
  • how to soften a child`s defenses
  • why children need to become resilient
  • how to recover lost tears
  • why it is important to take the lead as a parent
  • how we can make it safe for our child to depend on us
  • what discipline methods do not work when your child is stuck
  • ways to compensate for the deficits and dysfunction of stuck kids
  • how to handle incidents
  • how to become the parent your child needs

General information about the three-part Power to Parent series

The Power to Parent series delivers the best that developmental science has to offer to those who are our children`s best bet - parents and those who support them. The effect of the material is to restore parents to their natural intuition as well as to their rightful place in their children`s lives. The principles and dynamics apply to children of any age. Although some attention is given to the more perplexing problems of childhood, the general thrust of the course concerns issues and challenges facing most every parent.

This parent education series offers a complete approach to parenting. Rather than dumbing parents down with prescriptive solutions and superficial strategies, this series truly informs and educates so that parents can become the true experts in their children’s lives. The basic attachment and developmental needs of children are uncovered so that parents can become the answer to these needs. Challenging problems are explained is such a way that the root problems can be addressed.

Dr. Neufeld has had exceptional success as a parent consultant, working with thousands of families over the years. In this three-part series, he shares the insights and understandings that have changed the ways of countless of parents to the benefit of thousands of children.

The goal is to return parents to their natural intuition

The prevailing assumption today is that the key to parenting is in knowing what to do. Since children aren`t born with a manual, today`s parents are becoming more dependent upon so-called experts for advice. Yet despite more experts and advice than ever before, parenting is actually becoming more difficult and contrived. The problem, according to Dr. Neufeld, is that the power to parent is slipping away. Parents were never meant to have the most important responsibilities on earth without the corresponding power to do the job. Yet this is the predicament of a growing number of parents who are losing their power to guide and direct their children, to shield and protect them, to nurture and fulfill them, and even to transmit their culture to them.

Parenting should be quite natural and instinctive. Like most deeply rooted instincts, however, the right context is required to `push the right buttons` in both parents and their children. Science has revealed this context to be the child`s attachment to the parent. When a child is in right relationship to the parent, not only is the child rendered receptive to parenting but the parent is empowered to do the job. The key therefore to effective parenting lies not in what we do but in who we are to our children.

It is the role of culture to create and preserve this context of connection between children and their parents. Unfortunately, today`s society has taken an economic turn and no longer serves this vital function. As the context for parenting is being eroded, parents are losing the natural power required to fulfill their responsibilities.

The antidote to our present predicament is to become conscious of attachment and to make sense of our children from inside out. In this way we can restore natural intuition and interact in ways that support healthy development. If we fail to do this we run the risk of becoming more reactive, or alternatively, becoming more contrived in our interaction as we follow the cues of advice-givers rather than finding our own intuitive path.

What parents need is insight, not skill

What we do is determined more by what we see than any other factor, including the strategies we have learned, the books we have read and the knowledge that we have acquired. The more accurate our insight, the more fruitful our interaction. When a child makes sense to us from inside out, a dance evolves that is natural, intuitive, effective and affirming for both the child and the adult. Developmental science has progressed to where it is now able to equip both parents and professionals with the insights that are necessary to understand our children and interact accordingly. This parenting series is founded on the firm conviction that when we are able to truly make sense of a child in a context of compassion, we will discover within ourselves a dance that corresponds.

What parents need is natural power, not manipulative tricks

Parenting is meant to be power-assisted. Like the cars we drive, many would be too much to handle without some power to assist us. When one is in the middle of driving and the engine cuts, managing a car designed to be power assisted can be a handful if not impossible. To manage children when our parenting power is insufficient is likewise daunting if not next to impossible. Yet millions of parents are attempting to do just that and not even aware that something is amiss.

We tend to take the power to parent for granted. There is little we can do with a child, however, that is not predisposed to attend to us, to look up to us, to depend upon us, to ask for help, to take the cues from us or to want to be good for us. These inclinations are not inherent in a child`s personality nor the result of skilled parenting. Rather, they are the fruit of a good working attachment to the parent. When the attachment is weak or lacking, these predispositions will be missing in a child. When this is the case, parents are rendered impotent and parenting becomes difficult, contrived and unnatural.

Parental impotence is becoming a common affliction but rarely is it recognized for what it is. We are more likely to assume that we lack the necessary skill or that we have a difficult child. The most instinctive reaction when lacking natural power is to become more forceful. Unfortunately, applying leverage such as sanctions and separation to coerce a child into compliance will not only provoke resistance but also damage the very relationship that empowers us. Sadly, such is the state of parenting today. Only when we realize our true source of power will we do everything in our power to safeguard it. Unless we have our children`s hearts, we will be unable to fulfill our parental responsibilities. Once we have our children`s hearts, we need to hold on to them until our task is done.

The secret of the power to parent lies in children being in right relationship to their parents. The more difficult the child or the problems, the more this is true. It is this very relationship that is being eroded by cultural chaos, by competing attachments to peers, and by parenting practices that interfere with the development of attachment. To compensate for the loss of cultural wisdom we must become conscious of attachment and then parent with attachment in mind. The only salvation for parenting that is truly natural and intuitive is to work at attachment and let attachment work for us.

Today`s parents are not only shy of power but power shy. Power has become a dirty word, undoubtedly because so many of us have experienced its abuse. Yet the most important responsibilities on earth are impossible to fulfill without the power to do the job. And when we don`t have the natural power required to parent, we are tempted to resort to forcefulness and manipulation, as is the growing trend among many parents today. Examples of such coercive practices include the use of time-outs and the tendency to use what children care most about against them (often euphemized as consequences and sanctions). The kind of power that arises spontaneously out of a correctly aligned attachment relationship enables parents to be highly effective without needing to be punitive or coercive. We need to overcome our aversion to power in order to assume our rightful position in our children`s lives. The kind of power that should be eschewed is power devoid of corresponding responsibility.

The history & genesis of the Power to Parent series:

The Power to Parent series had its beginnings in a parent discussion group that grew out of popular demand from young parents who took Dr. Neufeld`s university courses on developmental psychology and parent-child relations. It gradually evolved into an eight-session evening course called Making Sense of Kids that was in high demand by parents and professionals in the Vancouver area for many years. Because of Dr. Neufeld`s widespread reputation, pressure mounted to film the course and make it available to others. The result is the Power to Parent series, a three part trilogy of eight session courses.

The primary objectives of the Power to Parent series:

The primary objective of our parent education is to equip adults to raise children with attachment in mind and with true maturation the end result. Our method is to make sense of children to the adults responsible for them. In providing the conceptual underpinnings to natural intuition, our goal is to restore parents to their rightful place in their children’s lives.

This material is copyright and appears courtesy of the Neufeld Institute.

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