Let’s Stop Controlling and Start Listening to Children

The urge to control our kids can be almost uncontrollably strong at times, can’t it? “I just want her to do what I want right now!” But whenever we’re struggling with a child and we want them to submit to our authority, we’re silently taking away everything we’ve said (or were about to say) to our kids about standing up for themselves against peer pressure.  We’re sending the message that we’re the more powerful ones and their ideas, thoughts, and desires don’t even matter.

Well I’ve got news for you. What children want does matter. In fact, I would argue that what they want is just as important as what you want. Yes, you are the parent and you get to make the final decision about what’s happening next, what the rules are, and how you’ll handle it when rules are broken. But if you’re really honest with yourself, is your desire to get out the door really more important than his desire to play with his trains for five more minutes?

As adults, I think we have a tendency to take our power for granted and since we live in a culture that values a power over approach, it can be difficult to get out of that destructive cycle. But I think it’s time for each of us to try.

Wouldn’t it be amazing to raise a child who already feels powerful and capable and knows that his ideas and preferences matter to the people who love him? Sure there are times when he’ll be disappointed, that’s just a part of life. We never get exactly what we want 100% of the time. But instead of engaging in a power struggle, I’d rather work WITH kids to help find a solution that actually works well for all of us.

I’m not talking about giving all of the power to your child, never setting any rules or boundaries, and being at the mercy of a kid who has power over you. That isn’t a healthy scenario for anyone involved.

What I’m talking about is avoiding forcing, coercing, bribing, or threatening and instead reasoning, helping, cooperating, and respecting children as the whole human beings they already are.

I’m talking about coupling increased power and autonomy with real world responsibilities so that our kids can grow up prepared for life both practically speaking and also in terms of their ability to negotiate for what they want and make a place for themselves in the big wide world.

Let’s stop forcing them to do our will, take a step back and watch what they do when we give them the freedom they’re yearning for. Let’s follow their lead more often and encourage them to develop their interests and go for their goals with gusto.

Instead of teaching children to follow the rules, do what adults tell them to do, and submit to our dominance, let’s learn from their wisdom, let them make the rules, and help them use their power wisely.

My bet is that children have a lot more to teach us than we might realize.

OK, end rant! 🙂

I hope you’re having a great week and I always love to hear from you.

Warm hugs, Shelly


Nice to confirm my true feelings by reading your lovely words.




Sorry for misspelling your name below.


I like the sound of this Shelley, but how do I put this into practice? Our current issue is that our daughter vacillates between wanting to go to school and not. She's three and hated her last school; she seems much happier at the current on but there are days she does not want to go. How do I show her that we are listening to her and value her opinion, but at the same time set boundaries and maintain routine which I think she really needs?