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Trevor E. S. Smith | Navigating parenting challenges

Published:Sunday | April 29, 2018 | 12:00 AMTrevor E.S. Smith
Trevor Smith

"Junior, you are getting on my last nerve."

"Tina, how many times must I speak to you about the same thing?"

"I am concerned about Ivan. I can't get him to settle down."

Parenting is not without its challenges. Your pride and joy can be a source of heartache and pain.




Today, we set out on a journey to reduce parenting heartaches and to replace it with a solution that empowers both parent and child.

It is an approach to parenting that is built on the DISCerning Model of Communication - DISCerning Parenting.

DISCerning Parenting has its roots in principles laid out by Karl Jung, one of the fathers of psychology.

In simple terms, Jung divided how we behave into four categories.

This is not to say that there are only four types of people. We need to make a distinction between 'behaviour' and 'personality'.

While behaviour is a part of our personality, our personality embraces a lot more. It reflects our gender, age, culture, religion and other factors.

Our behaviour is basically how we act at a given point in time. It could be likened to the clothes we wear - we can change it at will. However, we tend to have preferences related to the style and colours that we wear. I am not a fan of jeans, and my wardrobe is a sea of blue.

This is an important analogy. We dress appropriately for different occasions. Similarly, we can adjust our behaviour to suit each situation. Attitudes like 'this is how I am' are not helpful.

We can and must modify our behaviour in every area of endeavour to be successful!

So, back to Jung and his widely accepted four-category classification of our behaviour.

Think of a line running from east to west. The east end would be outgoing behaviour. The west end represents behaviour that is more Reserved.

If we insert a north-south axis, the north represents a preference for tasks, while south is comprised of a predominant orientation towards People.

In the square that is formed where Outgoing meets tasks, that quadrant is labelled Dominance.

Where Outgoing and People meet, that quadrant is branded Inducement (Influence).

The People-Reserved intersect yields the Steadiness quadrant.

Conscientious reflects Reserved and Task orientation.

I cannot overstate the transformation that takes place when a parent recognises the quadrant that best reflects their behavioural preferences and the implications for relating effectively to their child and his or her preferred behavioural style.




A recurring source of heartache relates to parenting children who have a preference for behaviours that fall in the Influence quadrant (Outgoing/People-oriented)

Characteristics of this behavioural style include a desire to interact with others. Incessant chatter is not unusual.

There is also the presence of what I call a 'sensitive antenna' but which is usually mislabelled as 'being easily distracted'.

And therein lies the rub.

Parents want the best for their children. For them, that translates into focused diligence (often forgetting their own freewheeling childhood.) 'Focus' in parent-speak means sitting in one place in silence, head over the task at hand.

Brace yourself.

Ivan and Irene (with a preference for behaviours that fall in the Influence quadrant) have a different perspective. They also want to be their best. That translates into viewing life - all of life - as an experience to be savoured. They want to take in everything and be in a constant state of joy while doing so.

If the homework takes 15 minutes more - fine. At least, I settled the dispute with my sister as to which superhero helps us the most.

Now, while that might drive a parent up the wall, stop and reflect for a moment.

That Ivan-Irene discussion is actually developing skills that are perhaps more important than memorising the names of our national heroes. It develops debating and communication skills. It helps them to appreciate community service. It drives their creativity.

Those are competencies that we will celebrate in later years, if we do not to stifle them now!




As a parent of three successful women, I fully appreciate the need for structure and discipline. Especially when getting into the right schools can make all the difference. The Ivan-Irene example is intended to invite a deeper appreciation of things from another perspective. Your relationship with your child might require new thinking.

There are strategies that can be used to get the best out of your child while reducing your parenting heartache and friction between both of you. However, it is challenging to fully address this serious issue in a brief article. Please go to this site for more information on how to reduce your frustration, enjoy more of those sublime parent-child moments while leading the genius that lies within your child to success:

DISCerning Parenting website: https://parenting.successwith

- Trevor E. S. Smith and the Success with People Academy team prepare and certify leadership professionals and coach/mentors and develop high-performing teams. Hire smart with their recruitment solutions. Now enrolling for the next cohort of the ICF/SHRM-accredited certified behavioural coach programme. Email: