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Transactional Analysis for Parents
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For Moms and Dads

TA (Transactional Analysis) was developed by Eric Berne MD (1910-70). It is both a method of examining human interactions and an easy way of labeling and half-systematizing the information from observed transactions. One goal of TA is to build a strong state of maturity by learning to recognize the "child" and "parent" sides of personality in oneself and others. There is an introduction to TA on the previous page. [Cf. EB, "Humanistic Psychology")

Muriel James holds two doctoral degrees and has written seventeen books about TA and its applications. They include The OK Boss (Addision-Wesley Pub. 1975); Born to Win: Transactional Analysis with Gestalt Experiments (Addision-Wesley Pub. 1971); Winning with People: Group Exercises in Transactional Analysis (Addision-Wesley Pub. 1973); and many more.

The following are extracts and quotations from one of her books that is no longer in print, Transactional Analysis for Moms and Dads (1974). The material is arranged to favour learning.

Chapter 1

LoGood habits go a long way toward living well

Princes and princesses are pleasing to be around – Every child is born to be a little prince or little princess (12, 4).

Princes and princesses have good habits and are pleasing to be around (12).

A little child can be brainwashed with parental prejudice. Avoid it – The point of this text is to show you that you can develop princesses and princes (cf. 16 and 4).

Expanding the Adult ego state capacities is part of good parenting (cf. 18).

Caught up in frogginess, "Damn it," you say to yourself (cf. 5).

Consider what you need to do for things to go well (cf. 21).

Positive strokes can be conditional or unconditional. Children need both kinds. "I'm glad you're you" (11).

Eric Berne said that at any time people could act from any of [three major] personality parts [that resemble the Freudian libido (id), ego; and superego], which he called ego states (cf. 6-7.).

Ask yourself in what way the TV programmes and much else help or hinder your children's development into princes and princesses (cf. 13).

To reprogram a Child ego state in a grownup can be done (cf. 15).

Good stroking [such as caressing] influences the basic positions children take about themselves (cf. 16).

Your children are learning what marriage is like by observing yours – Your children will be looking to you for strokes of love, fun, and companionship. Hug them, play with them, go places with them, and they're likely to turn into princes and princesses (20; cf. 13).

Example: "Something in my head and body seems to respond to an invisible nod from my father" (8-9).

A groggy child may act obedient, even "nice," but do so out of fear rather than out of inner self-direction (6). (2)

LoWell chosen fairy tales develop mental imagery, which helps thinking

Princes and princesses treat themselves with respect – Turning frogs into princes and princesses is no small business (12, 21). (3)

Learn about what makes people tick. Think of your personality as being in three parts (at least). (4)

Observe what you read; fairy tales may carry hidden messages, for example. Some of them can be good ones (cf. 13).

You can try to ignore squabble (2).

Whatever you teach your children - whether to automatically curtsy or to think for themselves - it will all contribute to the development of their frogginess or their prince and princess traits (9).

Positive stroking is some kind of touch or other form of recognition like a smile or greeting (6).

Do not ridicule small ones.*.

LoWhat is called stroking, includes Adult-calculated allowances

One had better know that life is worth living (cf. 16). (5)

It can take a bit of positive stroking to change any frog back into the prince or princess it was meant to be (5).

Two likely ego states of stroking: Fun to be with (Child to Child). Please help me! (Child to Parent).

"If you get your room cleaned up regularly, I'll be happy and give you an allowance." - It helps develop good habits and perhaps good manners too - in time (cf. 11).

Your children have a Parent ego state that includes behavior copied from you (18).

Cast off the froggy skin and be the one you were meant to be (cf. 12). ✪ 

Correct messed-up situations. Parents who use their Adult ego states to think about their children are willing to do it (cf. 10).

Princes and princesses have good habits (12).

The handsome young prince who had fallen under an evil spell and been turned into a frog (king). He was doomed to remain a frog until someone, out of loving kindness, would kiss him and restore him to his original form (4).

Princes and princesses treat themselves with respect (12).

Avoid doing those things that may cast a spell on your children (cf. 13).

The Adult ego state is able to compute (18).

Childhood experiences may cast their own version of an evil spell and make many people feel like frogs (4-5). (7)


  1. Good habits go a long way toward living well, but something rises over and above mere habits too, in due time. [Cf. Maslow's hierarchy of needs.]
  2. Well chosen fairy tales develop mental imagery, which helps thinking by stages.
  3. What is called stroking, includes Adult-calculated allowances.

IN NUCE Good habits, well chosen, tend to develop set ways. They should not leave out plenty of stroking.


The tick tack tao scheme behind the essay above, allows for extracting many complementary "Get Tao routes" [Link]. Try to select points that pertain to you or your dear and near ones, and blend them into some training program, if you can. If the drift or result of the excercising is pleasing, fine and good. If not, modify and adjust what does not work as soon as possible.

To give some examples, I sample statements or points from each of the three spans (stages, stretches) above, and get a postulated tick tack tao scheme: Even if I cannot or will not use it as a skeletal program to exercise by, the insights of it could assist me. Thus, for example:

  1. For things to go well, consider your needs as a grownup. Some needs may be individual, others are largely common [Erik H. Erikson's postulated stages of combined social and psychological developments] -- Gordon Allport's Proprium]
  2. Teach your children how princesses (read: winners) greet one another, by attitudes to foster, such as "I am OK, you had better be OK . . . (don't trust others too much)" Compare Thomas A. Harris' book I'm OK, You're OK (London: Jonathan Cape, 1974).
  3. Go for good habits. Some are taught, others may be computed. Good habits make people feel good.

The task is to implement things that satisfy the natural needs of children, adolescents, and grownups as they come to the fore. The great needs that Maslow postulated about functioning full well, should not be overlooked here. Communicating ways of interactions that do not foster losers, is excellent, and may be taught. Two decent books for communicating fitly in the area are by Haim G. Ginott: Between Parent and Child [Bpc], and Between Parent and Teenager [Bpt]. Among books that illustrate Ginott's very good approach, are some by Adele Faber, including one co-written with Elaine Mazlish, How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk (New York: Avon Books, 1982).

This was to say there are hardly any shortcut to a decent upbringing, but many detours and mires and stultifying may be avoided by taking up a fit program. It is one that fulfills main needs, helps good manners, and keeps natural id flowing toward the fully functioning individual that Carl R. Rogers talks of.

The gist of several good books helps such coping too, especially if you get a grasp on the main content and examples that may be very useful to you, as I have sought to illustrate by structured keynotes from a book by Muriel James.

Transactional Analysis for Moms and Dads by Muriel James, TA for parents, Literature  

Ernst, Franklin H. 2008. Handbook of Listening. Transactional Analysis of the Listening Activity. 2nd ed. Vallejo, CA: Addresso'Set Publications.

Faber, Adele, and Elaine Mazlish. 1982. How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk. New York: Avon Press.

Faber, Adele, and Elaine Mazlish with Lisa Nyberg. 1995. What Every Parent and Teacher Needs to Know: How to Talk So Kids Can Learn at Home and in School. New York: Rawson.

Ginott, Haim G. 2003. Between Parent and Child. Rev. and updated by Alice Ginott and H. Wallace Goddard. New York: Three Rivers.

Ginott, Haim G. 1971.Between Parent and Teenager. New York: Avon.

Ginott, Haim G. 1975. Teacher and Child: A Book for Parents and Teachers. New York: Avon.

Harris, Thomas A. 2012. I'm OK, You're OK. Paperback ed. London: Arrow Books.

Harris, Amy and Thomas. 1985. Staying OK. London: Jonathan Cape.

Hart , Sura, and Victoria Kindle Hodson. 2006. Respectful Parents, Respectful Kids: 7 Keys to Turn Family Conflict into Co-operation. Encinitas, CA: PuddleDancer Press.

James, Muriel, and Dorothy Jongeward. 1971. Born to Win: Transactional Analysis with Gestalt Experiments. Reading, Mass: Addison-Wesley.

James, Muriel. 1974. Transactional Analysis for Moms and Dads. Reading: Addison-Wesley.

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