How to Practice “Love and Logic” Parenting, Session 3: Avoiding Power Struggles


We have power struggles at my house every single day and they can be exhausting if not handled correctly.  My husband and I have to really remember the tools from the Love and Logic class that I took.  I find that the most power struggles are with our 3 year old son.  Our almost 7 year old daughter seems to be getting more mature and understands that everything does not need to be a power struggle.  She has also had more years of exposure to Love and Logic methods which I think makes a huge difference as well.

love and logic parenting

The information presented here is from the Love and Logic ( “Early Childhood Parenting Made Fun!” class and workbook.  It in no way takes the place of the actual class, which I highly recommend, but just gives you some great pointers on how to “create happy families and responsible kids.”

From the Love and Logic Parenting Workbook: 

This session teaches:

  • Time-tested tips for ending bedtime battles (thank goodness!)
  • How to get more control by sharing it
  • What to do with little ones who want to sleep with you
  • Why relationships and nurturing is the foundation of responsibility

The Science of Control

  • The more control we share, the more we have.
  • The less control we share, the less we have.
  • We can either share control on our terms or force our kids to take it on their terms.

Guidelines for Sharing Control Through Choices 

When adults feel “out of control” they typically aren’t a joy to be around.  The same goes for children.

When kids feel like they have no say in a situation, they will:

  • Develop hearing loss
  • Experience memory failure
  • Experience complete muscular paralysis
  • Get hyperactive
  • Become defiant or aggressive
  • Try to boss around their siblings, peers and pets
  • Do the exact opposite of what you want

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Avoiding these power struggles with kids is like making deposits into a savings account.  The more we deposit, the more we have for a rainy day.  The more control we “deposit” in the form of choices, the few power struggles we will have.

Each choice we give our kids is like a little “deposit” into their subconscious “savings account of control.”

  • When things are going well, make plenty of “deposits” in the form of small choices so you can make withdrawals when things aren’t going well.
    At my house, this is what this sounds like:
    “Evan, are you going to wear your dinosaur shirt or your doggy shirt today?”
    “Evan, do you want your bedroom light all the way down or low?”
    “Emma, do you want peas or green beans?”
    “Emma, do you want to go to bed at 7:15pm or 7:30pm?”
  • For each choice, make sure to give two options.  Don’t offer one option you like and one you don’t just in case your child picks the one you don’t like.  Offer two that you like.
  • Give choices before resistance, not after.
    If we give choices after a child becomes resistant, we look powerless and are actually rewarding resistant behavior.
  • If your child does not choose within ten seconds, you decide.
    This way your child will learn that you will not hesitate to decide for them if they hesitate to make a choice.  When you decide for your child, pick the option your child likes the least.
  • Use care not to disguise threats as choices.
    Choices delivered with sarcasm or anger aren’t really choices (and your child can tell the difference, believe me!).
  • When things aren’t going well, don’t hesitate to make a “withdrawal.”
    I do this and it really does work.  I say something like, “Have you made most of the choices today?  Yes.  Now it’s mommy’s turn.  Thank you for understanding,  I really appreciate it.”

Following these steps really helps to boost your child’s self esteem since they are making their own, good choices and feel like they have some control over things.  This makes for a happy child and in turn, a happy parent!

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Is It Really Okay to Let Them Cry in Their Rooms at Night?

Many times when a child is put to bed, they will cry.  If a child is crying over a need, it is not okay to let them cry.  But, if a child is crying over a want, it is fine to let them cry.

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An infant’s physical and emotional survival depends on how well we meet their basic needs.  Meeting basic physical and emotional needs, especially during the first year of life, builds a strong foundation of trust and security.  From this trust and security comes the ability to love oneself and others, the desire to please others and is critical for healthy brain development.  Kids need loving touch, eye contact and smiles as their basic physical needs are met.  These things are just as important as healthy food, water, a crib to sleep and clean diapers.

During the second year of life, children become bundles of wants.  They want to eat a treat before healthy food, they want our attention when we are on the phone, they want to sleep with mommy and daddy or a sibling at night.  As children near their second birthday, parents should also begin to set limits over wants.  Here is what this cycle looks like:

  • A child expresses their want or desire, like sleeping with mom and dad
  • The child is told “no” and begins crying
  • A limit is set on the want, “no, you have to sleep in your own bed,” the child cries even more for a while
  • Then the child learns self control

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For children to develop internal limits, they first need their parents to set external ones.

Sometimes it is hard to know if a child is crying over a need or a want.  Jim and Charles Fay advise that during the first two years of life, it’s much wiser to err on the side of assuming that you child is crying over a need that must be fulfilled.  They also say with Love and Logic parenting, it takes very little time to tame a somewhat overindulged toddler or preschooler.  If a young child has a strong foundation of trust and love… but his or her parents have “given in” a little too much, it is really not too hard to start setting and enforcing limits.  Kids with love in their hearts turn around quickly.

However, children who lack the basic foundation of trust and love many times spend a lifetime trying to shed intense rage that surfaces as disruptive, destructive and even violent behavior.

When in doubt, err on the side of nurturing!

Once again, this information is from the Love and Logic Parenting class and workbook, “Early Childhood Parenting Made Fun.”  This information does not take place of the class.  I wanted to share some of the tips that we use with our children that really seem to help guide and nurture them.  I think raising children is a huge challenge, especially if done correctly.  I always appreciate healthy suggestions about parenting.

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It’s all about the journey…





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