The 80 Percent Rule

stress management and the 80 percent rule

Are you feeling like a bad parent because there are lots of times when your child ignores you and does not do what they are told to do?

  • Sick of begging your toddler to pick up his blocks?
  • Is your living room covered with coats and books and shoes that will not be picked up in your lifetime?
  • Positive that your teenager will NEVER come home by curfew?

Step #1: Remember the 80% Rule!

Research has proven that in the best of circumstances children do what you tell them to about 80% of the time. If the child is under stress or going through a new stage, that percentage can drop to 50% in a snap.

Translation for Parents: Even under the very best circumstances, good parents have good children who sometimes do not do as they are told!

Step #2: Coach yourself into believing that 80% is OK:

Coach yourself with the following sentences:

  • “I make sure that my child ALWAYS follows through when it comes to safety.  So it is OK if he doesn’t always pick up his socks.”
  • “My child is not always going to do everything I ask them to do and that is perfectly normal.”
  • “My child does follow my directions more than 50% of the time, so I must be doing something right!”

Step 3#: Practice, Practice, Practice:

You can read every parenting tip in the world, but if you don’t USE THE TIPS you won’t improve your parenting.

Practice the 80% Rule every day.  Pay attention to when your child is doing what you told them.  Then, cut yourself some slack for the times they do not follow through.

Put up a 80% Rule Sign:

Put a sign on your fridge or your mirror or on your calendar that says, “Don’t forget the 80% Rule!”

Teach a Friend:

One of the best ways to learn is by teaching! Tell another parent about the 80% .  Agree to work on it together for one week.


Make a deal with yourself that if you practice the 80% Rule for week you can go and get coffee ! Or, buy flowers for yourself!  Or, just give yourself a big gold star in your mind!  Rewards are wonderful!!!!

© Parent Trust for Washington Children