In an ideal world this question would be easy to answer. Your kids would be perfectly behaved, and there would be no need to second guess yourself. In the real world, however, your kids are not going to behave perfectly 100% of the time, no matter what parenting method you choose. Like us, kids are human. They are not perfect. They're going to mess up.
So how do you know it's working? I came across the Pareto Principle on AskMoxie, one of my favourite parenting blogs (I like it because she also has the attitude that you are the best parent for your child, which is also the title of the book she wrote). The Pareto Principle is also known as the 80/20 rule. In business, it means focusing 80% of your energy on the 20% most important things. In parenting, it means that as long as things are good 80% of the time, you can ignore the other 20% of the time when things go to pot. Read Kara at Simple Kids' post to learn more.
Sometimes, though things are not working even 80% of the time. Regardless of your parenting style, here are a few tips to tweak your parenting:
1) Change your perspective: Keep your expectations reasonable. Your child can't behave all the time. Try not to take it personally, and try to see them as someone who made a mistake and is in need of guidance rather than a malevolent being that needs to be taught a lesson.
2) Remember the Big Picture: Sometimes they're just going through a phase. Take a deep breath and remember that this too, shall pass. Behavior is Not as Important as We Think.
3) Connect: if your child feels disconnected from you, they will be less likely to listen. Even 15 minutes a day of undivided attention can make a big difference.
4) Stay Calm: how can we expect our children to maintain their tempers if we can't? Children are more likely to listen when we can discipline calmly.
5) Keep it Simple: The less words you use to communicate, the better.
6) Mean what you say: If you say you're going to give consequences, give them.
For Further Thought:
1) How would you apply AskMoxie's take on the Pareto Principle to your parenting? What 20% of your life is giving you 80% of your trouble?
2) What do you love about your child? What things do you sometimes forget about them that make them a "good child?"
3) What "phase" is your child going through at the moment? What would be helpful for you and your child as you pass through this part of their life?
For Further Reading:
Love and Logic: It's Not Working
Janet Lansbury: If Gentle Discipline Isn't Working, This Might Be The Reason, Problems with Gentle Parenting and Common Toddler Discipline Mistakes
AhaParenting: Obedience: Why Do You Have To Tell Them Five Times? and 12 Ways to Get Past No
Not Just Cute: Six Ways You’re (Unintentionally) Telling Kids NOT to Listen
Positive Parenting Connection: When a Parenting Tool is Not Working
Huffington Post: 7 New Ways to Navigate Defiance From Your Child
The Genius in Children: Why Kids Listen to Parents or Don't