Top-Down or Bottom-Up Parenting

parent coach parenting help parenting teens Jan 06, 2023
Top-Down or Bottom-Up Parenting

Are you a Top-Down or Bottom-Up parent?

I have a client whose high schooler is struggling - skipping classes, failing courses, sneaking out, lying, fighting…scary stuff. 

Understandably, Mom is focused on turning things around:

  • How can I get them to stay in class and fix their missed assignments?
  • Maybe they belong in a different school or need a tutor?
  • What would keep them from sneaking out? Taking away their phone, maybe?

My Story

My followers know that my son went through a similar chapter, and, like my client, I first focused on turning things around. We tightened up discipline, changed schools, drug tested, took away tech…AND we did it the ‘right’ way, meaning staying calm, avoiding power struggles, setting loving boundaries, and enforcing them with compassion. I mean, I am a parent coach, for goodness sake, I know how to do this stuff! 

Well, guess what? None of it worked, and it isn’t working for my client either.


It’s a top-down approach that says, “There’s a big picture of what this is supposed to look like, and this is NOT it. I will put my efforts into fixing the parts of this picture that are off.”

Top-down Parenting

Top-down parenting doesn’t address underlying issues, only outside messiness. It is also overwhelming. When you address one ‘off’ part of the picture, another appears because there are things at play behind the scenes, so outside messiness keeps regenerating. Yuck! 

Most of us were a version of these messy teens at some point, and most of us had top-down parents (if you were this kid, how many convos about your grades would you have had to sit through, for how many days in a row?). When we try to repair things this way, we do more damage, push kids away, and actually perpetuate misbehavior.

Bottom-up Parenting 

How about a bottom-up approach? What are the foundational elements going on with our kids? What if we trust that, as we change that foundation, external messes gradually resolve?

It can feel scary to take the focus off the very real issues in that big picture, but you don't have to do it alone - in my coaching group, you get to have other moms like you in your corner and me. There is nothing wrong with you or your kid; you just need a new approach. When we work together, we’ll get at the root of what’s going on with your child so you can begin repairing at the core - the parent/child relationship.

Let's Get Started

Set up a Discovery Call for yourself, and let’s get the ball rolling. I’ll share all the group details, and we’ll create a very clear plan for implementing bottom-up parenting that is unique to your family. See you soon!