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Raising Near Perfect Children

by Chet Holmes

Unified Fighting Arts Association 

(This article appears on this website with permission from Chet Holmes) 

Raising Near Perfect Children


By Chet Holmes


The true secret to raising normal and well-adjusted children is in two simple sentences. “When they are pleasant, treat them pleasantly. When they are unpleasant, treat them unpleasantly.” If you reward unpleasant behavior, you will create an unpleasant child. Let’s define the term “reward.” If you laugh when the child behaves in a negative way, that is rewarding the behavior. If you are high indulgent, giving the child extra special attention (when they behave poorly) that is also “rewarding” the behavior.

Today, we don’t spank our children as our parents might’ve done to us. Studies show this can damage their self-esteem and emotionally scar them. But putting a child in bed is all you’ll ever need to do to punish them. This minor punishment phase is something you won’t have to go through for more than a week or two in their entire life. And by doing so, your children will magically and remarkably adapt and become the most pleasant, perfect and well adjusted children you’ve ever known.




How to train your child to fail in life and in relationships


A true story. I’m standing in a friend’s home and their two year-old is asking for something that the father would not give him.


Child: I want it.


Father: No


Child (louder) I want it.


Father: No


Child (even louder) I want it.


Father: No


Child (screaming) I want it!


Father: Okay, just stop screaming.


This is a case of the parent teaching the child that when they behave badly they get what they want in life. And that is the exact opposite of reality. In real life, outside of the unrealistic world you might create as a parent, when that child behaves poorly, that child will not be well liked by others. That child will have a hard time making great friends. That child will not get along with teachers. When that child becomes an adult, they will not be promoted and advanced by superiors and they will always suffer in their relationships. Letting a child always have their way creates an adult who is selfish, emotionally imbalanced and unrealistic in their expectations.


Tough Love


This is what they call tough love. Though you hate to hear your child cry when you put them in their room for punishment, you have to love your child enough to properly motivate them to be well adjusted. You’ll be amazed at how fast they adapt. Children are the most adaptable anomalies on the planet.


I remember the pediatrician teaching us how to get our child to sleep through the night (this to be done after the child is 12 months old and not before). She said: “Let her cry. If you go in every time she cries, she will never learn to sleep through the night.” In two nights, our 13 month-old daughter was trained and slept through the night every night since (she’s 14 as of this writing). I had to practically handcuff my wife from running right in there, but even she was grateful when she saw how well it worked and how much happier everyone was when our child now slept through the night.


Our son was more resistant and determined. He took four nights. Four nights of holding yourself back so the child (and you) can have a lifetime of soundly sleeping through the night.


How you develop respect before the age of reason


The age when a child can be “reasoned” with is eight years old. Until that time, reasoning with a child is a silly waste of time and losing battle. What’s more, you are setting precedent that you are not the boss and what you say is not the way to go – that when you make a statement- a rule, a demand—that there is always this discussion. When you think you are going to “reason” with a five year old, or a two year old, you must be thinking that this child has better judgment than you about how they should behave. Or at least that’s how they will take it. Rather a parent who is sure about what is good behavior will make this a black and white world, thereby making a well adjusted child.


Too many parents today want to try to “reason” with a three year old. You cannot reason with a child who has not developed that emotional state and won’t until the age of eight. So the only way you win the respect of a child before the age of reason sets in, is to have them know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that any negative behavior is followed by swift and immediate punishment. The child is put to bed, is relieved of privileges and so on.


The Rule of ONE


The rule is that you never say “no” more than once without immediately reinforcing that you “say what you mean and you mean what you say.” You have to care enough about your children to intentionally and deliberately train them that it does not pay to sulk, brood, pout, scream or cry unnecessarily. All those behaviors will be treated with a swift carry-off to bed, where they will stay until they become pleasant. A few minutes will be sufficient in most cases, unless you’ve never disciplined the child.


If this is new to the child and they’ve always gotten their way from you, they might scream their heads off the first time you do this. Take the screaming as a warning of worse things to come if you don’t now become twice as strict until they learn.


The Rule of one says that it’s one warning and then RIGHT to bed. NEVER is there any wavering on your part. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Predictable behavior on your part creates a better well-adjusted child. If sometimes your strict and other times your not, the child does not know where they stand. You owe it to your child for things to be clear to them.


This approach has created two extremely well-adjusted children who adapt to every situation with remarkable good nature. And the punishment phase was remarkably brief, maybe a week when they were 13 months, another week when they hit the terrible two’s. Then a weekend of no phone when they were 12. Minor discipline for a lifetime of well adjusted children.


The Amazing Realization


You do this for a week and quickly you’ll see that even the threat of bed is enough to quickly curtail all unpleasant behavior. Then one day, the child will suddenly become extremely well adjusted and adapt whenever you say no.


Child: Can I have some candy?


Parent: Not now, honey.


Child: Okay.


End of scene.


Compare this against our opening scene and you have a very different world to live in. You’ll see it happen very quickly and you’ll be delighted. You’ll know it’s the way it should be because all the drama goes away very quickly.


Am I cramping their style?


Self-esteem makes an accomplished child, not spoiled behavior. Some parents feel that any discipline at all to a child is “cramping their natural behavior.” Their “natural behavior” is up to how you teach them to be. So give the child everything they want when they scream for it, and then YOU are the one creating behavior, not “nature.” You are the parent. It is your job to make the proper decisions. Leaving a two year-old to make their own decisions about how they should be raised is a recipe for creating an adult who will be forever unhappy.

Self-esteem is built by adoring your child, encouraging all their positive behaviors and believing in them no matter what. But that’s another article.


Addendum years later


When I wrote this, my kids were 12 and 14 and wonderful. Now, as of this writing, they are 18 and 20 and still wonderful. I kept expecting that they would somehow go south, get into drugs, run off with the circus, something that would show I had been wrong all those years. Rather, to my astonishment, these are two of the most disciplined and well-adjusted children (now, PEOPLE) I have ever known.


At my son’s college he says that the peer pressure to drink is amazing. 99% of the student s drink, 85% of which get smashed regularly and often. ALL of them have tried to get him to drink. He has not done so yet. Now it has become something he is proud of—that he cannot be swayed by peer pressure. When he first got there, I know he was feeling the weight of his integrity, now it is a source of pride.


My Daughter never felt the pressure as she’s just happy in life and not at such a party school as my son. They are both highly disciplined, highly accomplished well balanced, smart, witty and charming.


To be with them is my greatest pleasure. There is nearly zero moments of strain as the rapport level is rock solid on every front. I am thrilled to be in the company of these two magnificent people. So this is my contribution to other parents. My wish for you is to have children who make you proud, are well adjusted, happy, and healthy and have high integrity and respect.


About the Author

Chet Holmes has been named one of the top 20 motivation experts in the country. He has had more than 60 Fortune 500 clients as a trainer, strategic positioning expert and change expert. He has been published in more than 50 different magazines, newspapers and trade journals. But here are his best qualifications for writing this article: He has raised two wonderful children who are at the height of popularity in their school (7th and 8th grade as of the original writing of this article). Both get straight A’s in all their subjects. Both play musical instruments. Both are accomplished competition-level gymnasts. Both have wonderful personalities, a great sense of humor and a wonderful wit. But most important of all, both are happy, well-adjusted people on their way to adulthood with all the tools and skills necessary to build great lives for themselves. For more info on Chet Holmes, you can visit


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