If We’re Not Controlling, What are We Supposed to Do?!

defiance defiant parenting parenting myths parenting styles strong-willed kids warmth Jan 04, 2022
If We’re Not Controlling, What are We Supposed to Do?!

When I started letting my kids have more control over their life, I almost felt disoriented. I couldn’t figure out what my role was meant to be if I wasn’t reminding them about everything and trying to control their decisions anymore. You might be feeling the same way now.

You may ask, “If I were to start letting go of control. What am I supposed to do?”

This is a great question to ask.

First, you’re going to set those boundaries for your home and yourself. Then you’re going to give your kids lots of choices. You’re going to get your hands off the steering wheel and let them choose what they’re going to do. Then you’re going to let them own the outcomes of their choices.

Here’s an example. 

Years ago, bedtime was a constant battle with our child who was 10 years old at the time. We then learned that we had to let go of the steering wheel when we realized that it was not much of a respect issue but more of a control issue

Here was our game plan: 

  1. We clarified our personal boundary: that our parent hat is off by 8:30 PM. 
  2. Then we had to give him the opportunity for control.
  3. Next, we brainstormed the natural consequences he could experience if he chose to cross our boundary.
  4. We put the plan in place so we could see what worked and what didn’t.

We had to say to him: “Here’s the deal. You get to decide if you’re wearing pajamas, if you’re staying up, if you’re brushing your teeth or not. All those things are now your decision. As long as you’re out of our space by 8:30. You will get to be the one responsible for waking up on time, for paying for cavities, etc.  You want the freedom to choose, with that comes handling the outcomes of your choices”

We set our own boundaries and we gave him lots of choices. This simple tweak ended our bedtime battles.

Now, what happens if he does stay up or if he doesn’t brush his teeth? 

We let him experience the natural outcomes of that. And within 6 months, he had 2 cavities and he had to pay for them on his own.

If he sleeps in past his alarm in the morning and misses the bus because he stayed up too late, we drive him to school and charge him $5 for our time. 

Needless to say, he’s learning a lot! He’s still not at 100% at brushing his teeth or going to sleep at a decent hour, but he’s become a lot better. 

More importantly, he’s become self-motivated. He’s exercising self-control without having us remind him all the time. 


We have several more real-life examples in our free parenting class, check it out today.

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