Actually, I find the perspective of working on habits to be very much a method of raising children that places a real priority on the relationship between parent and child. For some really good thoughts, have you yet listened to Sonya's Reaching Your Child's Heart?
I find habit training to force me to be very aware of what is going on, what my child is thinking and feeling. In the early years, it is important to focus on things like noticing when there is an imminent meltdown and averting it, etc. As they grow older, I love Charlotte's ideas on how to join forces WITH your child--it's you and your child, cooperating together, to defeat the enemy, the bad habit, and to put in place good habits. Instead of me, scolding him, I'm on his side and helping HIM to do what he needs to do. I believe in him and tell him by my actions, my expression, my tone of voice that I believe he can obey, can choose well, can do what he needs to do.
And at all ages, and especially now with teenagers, it is SO critical to emphasize to our children that we are not acting arbitrarily, but we are under authority, too. Often what seems to my teen son as unfairness, after we talk, he understands our position that we cannot just let him do what he wants, because we answer to God, not because we are meanies who are out to spoil all the fun. :-)
And I agree with Cindy--so often it is SO easy to get on the "critical bandwagon" and only notice when things go WRONG. But oh, the joy and the effects of my consistently recognizing what goes RIGHT and mentioning that! I once heard someone say you should say at least five positive things for each negative thing you say. Not that you have to pay five compliments before you correct a child, just that over the course of the day, that child should be hearing Mommy's voice praising, recognizing, etc. much more than scolding or correcting. What a difference when I remember to do this (as all too often, I slip).