Parents call us when they are stuck in power struggles with their kids. They share with us their weariness from telling their kids “No!” so many times. They find themselves saying no, often in a frustrated or angry tone of voice, because their kids have not taken care of their responsibilities.
It often goes something like this. A kid will ask, “Dad, can I _____?” The dad replies, “No! Your room is a mess. And I told you to clean it yesterday!” Then arguing follows and the power struggle continues, causing more and more frustration for the parent.
There is a simple Love and Logic technique that can effectively break this cycle. Instead of saying no, use the phrase “as soon as” with setting a limit. When your kids ask if they can do something, simply respond by saying something like, “Sure, as soon as your room is cleaned up.”
The difference in outcome can be quite amazing. There will be fewer fights and power struggles, even with teens. Life can get a lot easier; chores will start getting done without asking, and even homework will be finished.
As with all Love and Logic techniques, an essential requirement for success is delivering the message with empathy. Sincere empathy and a calm tone of voice is absolutely essential for breaking power struggles. As we often say, nothing works without empathy!
For parents, there is something powerful about identifying and acting on what we can control. There is also something powerful about kids learning realistic causes and effects. Isn’t it realistic to take care of our responsibilities before we get to do the things we want? In the so-called real world, we get paid, or we get to have fun, after our work is done.
We encourage you to experiment with this principle and find ways to make it work for you. For more insight into how to avoid power struggles, listen to my audio, Nobody Wins a Power Struggle: Avoiding Battles that Ruin Relationships and Lead to Rebellion.
On another note, I’ve received quite a few questions about using the Love and Logic techniques in a homeschooling setting. Check out this special video I put together.
Thanks for reading!