According to Katherine Lewis, author of the new book "The Good News About Bad Behavior," dad doesn't know best and the old command and control parenting style doesn't work. Around half of today's kids will develop a mood or behavioral disorder or suffer a substance abuse problem by age 18, which Lewis sees as a crisis of self-regulation among kids. The rise of social media and web culture and the decline of community and unstructured play are some of the forces behind this alarming situation.

Nowadays, children tend to behave as independent contractors and are taught to focus more on individual achievement rather than on their contribution to their family, friends, and neighborhoods. While Lewis doesn't blame parents, many of them would benefit from revising their approach to discipline. Even if an authoritarian style of parenting worked in the past, it has become ineffective with a new generation which is much more comfortable with collaboration.

"There are no longer these straight lines of authority," explains Lewis. "The boss is no longer in charge of the dad, the dad is no longer in charge of the mom, and the mom is no longer in charge of the kids. They are growing up in a culture of democracy and equality." Today's parents tend to foster a close connected nurturing relationship, a parenting style often referred to as "authoritative".

The challenge is to teach children to self-regulate by forgoing the fear-based methods of yesterday. The principle is to explain to them the consequences of bad behavior, instead of using punishment. "Punishment is something imposed on a less powerful person by a more powerful person. It sets up our children to want power and control," said Lewis. But power and control may be not enough to be successful in a society where cooperative skills become more and more important.

Picture: Happy Family (