Avoiding Power Struggles With Your Child

Who here has a stubborn and/or strong-willed toddler or child? ME! I have one of those! My daughter’s stubbornness and strong-will is something I love about her because, though she is small in physical size, she doesn’t let people push her around. She knows what she wants, states her mind, and makes decisions independently. And as a mother trying to raise a little girl to stand up for herself in a world that can often be harsh, I hope she carries those qualities into adolescence and adulthood. That being said, as her mother, those are qualities that often make parenting her more than a challenge on a daily basis. And, for me, the more I try to challenge her stubbornness and strong-will, the more she fights me. So finding a parenting approach that allows for loving authority which she doesn’t push back against as much is a must.

I was first introduced to Love and Logic through my college curriculum nearly a decade ago. Little did I know then how much I would eventually apply this theory to my own life in the future. Love and Logic is a very well-known ideology founded in 1977 by Jim Fay, Charles Fay, Ph.D., and Foster W. Cline, M.D. In this practical approach to parenting, it is believed children learn best when given a task and allowed to make their own choices (and fail if necessary) when the cost of failure is low. Then, such small failures must be connected with love and empathy from their parents, guardians, caretakers, and teachers.


“Why does Love and Logic work?

  • Uses humor, hope, and empathy to build up the adult/child relationship

  • Emphasizes respect and dignity for both children and adults

  • Provides real limits in a loving way

  • Teaches consequences and healthy decision-making”

  • -Jim Fay


For me, the biggest struggle with implementing the Love and Logic techniques into my daily parenting is…..patience. I try my hardest to always remain patient, but I am human and have my perfectly imperfect human moments where sometimes I simply tell my child she needs to do something “because I said so.” Those infamous words I heard so much as a child myself, the words the majority of us heard growing up and swore we would never say to our children as adults, I admittedly now say to my toddler. Because, sometimes, after over an hour of negotiating and remaining patient for my child to simply put on a pair of pants…..we have to leave to go out the door and her cute little tushy needs to be covered when we do. That being said, things do tend to run smoother when I am able to implement these techniques.

One effective technique I like to use to rephrasing my approach. So, rather than boss my toddler around and tell her what to do, I rephrase and tell her I’d be happy to do what she would like as soon as she does such and such, or we will do __(blank)__ as soon as she does such and such. In doing so, if she fails to complete the task necessary to get what she wants, it’s easier for her to recognize that was because she made the choice not to do something. And, when she gets sad because she inevitably doesn’t get what she wants after such failure, I comfort her with a love and say something like “It’s so sad we can’t do __(blank)__ because you didn’t do __(blank)__. Hopefully next time you won’t make such a sad choice.”

Below is a list of examples from Jim Fay and the Love and Logic website that illustrate one way to avoid power struggles with your child by rephrasing your approach to any given situation.

 Ineffective Technique Love and Logic Technique
 Please sit down. We’re going to eat now. We will eat as soon as you are seated.
 Please be quiet. I can’t listen to your brother when you are both talking at the same time. I’ll be glad to listen to you as soon as your brother has finished talking to me.
 Clean your room so we can go shopping. I’ll be happy to take you shopping as soon as your room is clean.
 I’m not going to play ball with you until all of you are quiet. I’ll be happy to play ball with you as soon as it is quiet.
 Don’t talk while I’m reading to you. I will start reading to you again as soon as you have finished talking.
 You can’t go play until you have finished your homework. Feel free to go play as soon as you have finished your homework.
 Don’t shout at me. I listen to people who do not yell at me.
 Pay attention. I’ll start again as soon as I know you are with me.
 Don’t be bothering your sister. You are welcome to stay with us as long as you are not bothering your sister.
 Keep your hands to yourself. Feel free to stay with us when you can keep your hands to yourself.
 Do your chores on time or you’ll be grounded. I’ll be happy to let you go with your friends as soon as your chores are finished.
 Don’t talk to me in that tone of voice! I’ll listen as soon as your voice is as calm as mine.
 You show some respect. I’ll be glad to discuss this when respect is shown.
 Don’t be late coming home from school. I drive those to practice who arrive home on time.
 I’m not picking up your dirty clothes. I’ll be glad to wash the clothes that are put in the laundry room.
 Keep your room neat. All owners of neat rooms are welcome to join us for ice cream.
 I’m not loaning you any more money. I lend money to those who have collateral.
 If you can’t remember your pencil, you’re just going to have to do without. Feel free to borrow from anyone but me.
 You’re not going out without your coat. You may go out as soon as you have your coat.
 You’re not going to stay in this group and act like that. You may stay with us if you can give up on that behavior.
 Don’t you come back to this room until you can show some respect! Feel free to come back to the room as soon as you are calm.
 Quit breaking the rules of the game. Those who can follow the rules are welcome to play the game.
 Get this room cleaned up right now, and I mean it! You are welcome to join us for __________as soon as your room is clean.
 Stop arguing with me. I’ll be glad to discuss this with you as soon as the arguing stops.
 If you can’t treat the paintbrushes right, you’ll just have to sit out this project. All of those who can handle the paintbrushes right are welcome to join us in the project.
 If you forget your permission slip, you’re going to miss the trip. All of those who remember permission slips are welcome to go on the field trip.

Hope ya’ll enjoy a little bit of “love” and “logic” in your lives!

xoxo, alli

Photo Credit @ Lauren Denise Photography

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