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  • Robin Blumenthal

Control may not be everything - but it sure is close!

Updated: Sep 29, 2020

Weekly I talk to parents looking for parenting advice. Nearly always, they are looking for advice about kids that are pushing back, acting out, or are non-compliant. If I had to summarize the most prominent contributing cause that seems to be a factor, it would be: control! Both the kids AND the parents want more of it. In fact, when we stop and ask ourselves, "What is the NEED driving the BEHAVIOR?" we find that control (or lack thereof) is often the need. Here are a few steps to releasing control where you can, so that you have energy to control what really matters:


If you find yourself saying, "I am telling them what to do so that they don't have to...." (if what they will experience is affordable - and allows them to learn from their mistakes, then relinquish that control). You might be surprised how much you can release.


Instead of telling your kids "no," say "yes" with an enforceable statement:

  • "Yes, you may have dessert as soon as you are finished with dinner."

  • "Yes, you may watch TV as soon as your homework is done."

  • "Yes, you can have a sleepover as soon as your room is clean."

Don't get into power struggles. Power struggles happen at the expense of the relationship. Daily power struggles that often can be avoided include:

  • Homework battles: (over quality or quantity of work done) as well as attention span. Try this - "I help kids who are paying attention." or "I wouldn't accept that work, but I am not your teacher. I will be interested to see what she thinks."

  • Food battles: Try this - "Feel free to eat as much as you need to last you until breakfast."

  • Driving: Try this - "You are welcome to drive the family car as long as you have a 3.0."

  • Teeth brushing: Try this - "I give treats to kids who take care of their teeth by brushing."

  • Bathing: Try this - "Feel free to turn the TV back on when your shower is over." - PS - It is

  • OK to keep the TV off for a couple days or longer!

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