What does Goldilocks have to do with Parenting?


As we continue to be locked down in many parts of the world, Kirstin Cohen, a registered social worker and child and family therapist based just outside Toronto, encourages parents to remember that these are unprecedented times and it’s OK if you’ve relaxed the rules

Relaxing the Rules, what does that mean?

It’s remembering that relaxing the rules is different to being relaxed and letting the kids run the roost.

Parenting remains our adult responsibility.  Getting too relaxed can lead to our children being anxious, and just as likely to think we don’t care.

It’s one of the anomalies of human nature, we need the right amount of physical and emotional security and certainty to feel safe.  

Goldilocks Principle in Parenting

Authoritarian – too hard – strict, command and control, kids have little or no say and little affection toward their child. The parent may say things like, “because I’m the Mommy, that’s why.” This is a less effective form of parenting.

Permissive – too soft – relaxed, shows lots of affection toward their child but provides little discipline, lacking guidance or boundaries, kids do what they want, with no feelings of safety. This is a less effective form of parenting.

Authoritative – just right –allows for flexibility and collaborative problem solving with the child when dealing with behavioural challenges, with age appropriate expectations.  This is the most effective form of parenting.

Modelling excellence

When all shut in, totally normal to have a few “moments” of less than gracious behaviour.  Modelling excellence is about being who we want our children to become.  Being gracious with ourselves when we make mistakes or behave in ways we wish we hadn’t.

Acknowledge you are not responsible for what your child does, as in the choices they make, regardless of whether they are two or 20.

Your responsibility as a parent is to help your child become self-reliant, respectful, and self-controlled.  That comes from enabling them to take on responsibilities as their skills and capabilities enable them.

 We often forget that our children want little different than we do.  They want to be treated with respect

It’s appreciating that in those moments, if you were the centre or the butt of the “moment” (someone behaving poorly), what would you like to be the outcome from the other party to be?

If anyone shouted at you, regardless of whether the reason was justifiable, what would you like the outcome to be?

Progress not perfection

We have to remember that our children learn far more from what we do than they ever do from what we say.

When we avoid taking the behaviour personally, avoid being frustrated and reacting, we model how we want our child to be in difficult situations.

If we do poorly, modelling excellence is apologising.  Connection and reparation.  Not from a place of shame or guilt, where we can overcompensate, and rather because it’s the right thing to do.

When we expect ourselves to not make mistakes, we actually rob our child from experiencing how to be when mistakes are made.  We also establish unrealistic expectations of themselves when we get angry at ourselves for making mistakes.

It’s all about healthy balance.  Back to the Goldilocks principles.  Finding the “just right”.  Which will be different for different children according to their behaviour profile.

Gracious with mistakes

“I tell parents to be gracious with themselves,” 

“This is uncharted territory for all of us, and we cannot show up perfectly for all the demands being made of us.”


If this rollercoaster family life is getting to you, and you’d like to show up differently.  

Let’s connect and open the doors to a new way of thinking.


You can do this. You are enough.

Click below and book in a discovery session

Author – Leanne G Wakeling –
Relationship and Communication Coach, Parenting Mentor, Behaviour and Thinking Styles Profiler.