Step up, Step Back Technique

No parent wants to be stuck doing all the childcare chores but often that’s what happens. Supernanny’s Step Up, Step Back technique can help couples bring balance back to their home lives.

It’s important to remember that the Step Up, Step Back technique isn’t about pointing the finger at the parent who does the least. What you’re doing is working together to figure out just where your parenting skills lie, what your different goals are when it comes to how your kids behave and the best ways to make those goals a reality. Approach it in a positive, proactive way and the results will improve your relationship with your kids as well as with each other.

Step 1: List common goals

On a two-foot by two-foot piece of poster board, draw a box in the middle. Inside the box, write a list of common goals for your children’s behavior. These may include issues related to discipline, education and playtime. Some examples include: improved communication, respectfulness, good manners, effective bedtime routines and independence.

By putting your goals in writing, you can track your progress toward achieving those goals in your family routine. Because the Step Up, Step Back technique is a work in progress, this list may change and evolve over time. Parents should revisit the list regularly, and track their success in achieving the goals for their children.

Step 2: List areas that need improvement

This can be the hard part. From the center box, each parent should draw a line and write out each area where they need to “Step Up” or “Step Back.”

If one parent is the sole disciplinarian, for example, he or she will Step Back from that duty, while the other parent will Step Up. If one parent dominates play time, he or she will Step Back, allowing the other parent to Step Up. Deliberate how you will strike the balance — perhaps a written schedule with “appointments” for reading, putting the children to bed, chores, etc. will help you define how you will share the duties.

By examining their different approaches, parents will better understand areas where they are underperforming or dominating in the parent-child dynamic. A more equitable approach to childcare can alleviate pressure on the parents’ relationship, and give the child a clearer message about expectations. Children who see the consistency will be less prone to run to the other parent to get what they want.

Step 3: Support and encourage one another

Pin the chart to a wall where you can track your success individually and as a team. Use the chart to understand your partner’s feelings about their role as a parent, and your collective role in your child’s life.

With a balanced approach to childcare, achieving the goals you have set for your children will come easier. If you each follow through, some of the tension that is part of every parent’s life will be lifted.

Related links

  • A Family Routine is another great building block towards a more balanced household, as are solid House Rules.
  • Brush up on Supernanny's Naughty Step and other great parenting techniques.
  • Discuss parenting issues with other parents in our forum.

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