Expert Parenting Advice
Practical parenting tips and advice from experts around the world

Fight for the right to vacuum

Why sometimes giving up is the best parenting strategy, and how your personality can affect your child's behavior.

Last night, my 6 year old son was watching me clean the house.

"I want to vacuum," he told me as I took out the vacuum cleaner.

"No, I just want to get this done, I'm tired," I replied grumpily.

He was also tired, so suddenly our evening devolved into a power struggle about who gets to vacuum. Is there a more ridiculous reason to fight?

We are both stubborn, and I could not get myself to give in. But the more I said no, the angrier he became. The evening ended with both of us upset and angry.

Today, as I took out the vacuum, he again said "I want to vacuum."

"Sure, go ahead," I said this time. So, I relaxed on the couch while he vacuumed the living room and kitchen. So much better than last night!

When we interviewed peaceful parenting coach Sarah Rosensweet for our book How To Get Kids To Listen, she shared the idea that sometimes “giving up” is the best parenting strategy.

When there is that agenda that you’re trying to get your kids to come along to, or when you’re trying to set a limit, stop and ask yourself, “Is this really necessary? Is this just because I think it’s a good idea?” Or does my child really have to wear their coat even though they said they’re not hot? Really just be mindful of not getting into those power struggles.

Say Stop and train yourself to Stop. And if your child asks you something, “Can we do this?” or “Can I do this?” train yourself to stop and think, “Can I say yes to this?” And sometimes the answer will be no. But it should be a thoughtful no. Because a lot of times we say like a knee-jerk no, without even thinking about it.

Sarah Rosensweet

The problem that I have is that I am a stubborn person. When I get into a power struggle with my kids, I struggle to stay calm and give ground.

In the interview, Sarah shares how to stay playful and calm when interacting with your child, as well as some ideas for staying in control of yourself when dealing with an upset child.

I try to use the “Stop, Drop and Breathe” technique that Sarah shared regularly, and it works great to calm myself down or remind myself not to be stubborn or get into unnecessary power struggles with my kids.

You can find the full interview with Sarah Rosensweet - How to create “win-win solutions” when dealing with your children - in our ebook How To Get Kids To Listen, available for free download here.