Since retiring from her private practice, leading New Jersey-based child psychologist, clinician, and author Dr. Beth Grosshans continues to educate parents, educators, and researchers on her innovative principle of Imbalanced Family Power (IFP). Methodically described in her 2010 book Beyond Time Out: From Chaos to Calm, Dr. Beth Grosshans explains how IFP stems from inappropriate boundaries between parent and child.
The struggles that often plague families with imbalanced power dynamics usually involve the setting and following of boundaries. While the boundaries themselves may differ with the child’s age, the underlying issue is the same. Due to inconsistently or poorly defined boundaries, the child doesn’t view the parent as an authority. This can be an anxiety-inducing situation for children, who feel safer when reliable, firm boundaries are in place. Parents can follow a few guidelines to set and maintain appropriate boundaries with their children.
Don’t Seek Validation - Many parents are afraid to set boundaries out of fear of upsetting their child. Effective parents set limits to protect the child’s safety and well-being, not to gain their child’s approval.
Be Consistent - When setting a boundary, it is normal for a child to push back and argue to get their own way. Rather than negotiating, parents should present their children with the option of following the limit or dealing with the consequences.
Allow Discomfort - Children may feel frustrated or disappointed when their parents set limits, and this can make some parents loosen their boundaries out of guilt or worry. While setting limits can be a difficult process, it is necessary to help children regulate their own behaviors and make better choices in the long term.
Experienced Psychologist Beth Grosshans Lectures on Child Development