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  • Writer's pictureP.E.T. South Africa

Parents - How to control less and talk more

Naturally, as parents, we have a desire to control. We don't like to hear our children struggle with emotions, relationships, and problems, especially when we have the solution for them! During times of uncertainty, a feeling of control can go a long way in coping with stress and anxiety. A sense of autonomy and management is also essential to our health and well-being.​

So, where's the harm in all of this control? Well, the simple answer - children lose confidence in their own ability to handle life's stressors. An overbearingly controlling parent can lead to a sense of helplessness - the child's belief that forces outside of themselves control them.

So, how can we become less controlling? Firstly, take a step back, learn to listen rather than speak, and allow your child to lead the conversation.

In Dr Thomas Gordon's Parent Effectiveness Training course, parents learn about "door-openers". Door-openers are statements used to encourage a child to talk. These door-openers convey a message of acceptance and encourage your child to think creatively about solving their problem - less parental control and more self-control.

"One of the most effective and constructive ways of responding to children's feeling-messages or problem-messages is the "door-opener" or "invitation to say more." These are responses that do not communicate any of the listener's own ideas or judgments or feelings, yet they invite the child to share his own ideas, judgments, or feelings." - Dr Thomas Gordon

Door-openers can be short and sweet:

"How about that."

"You did, huh."


"Is that so!"

"I see."

Or can be more explicit:

"Tell me about it."

"I'd like to hear about it."

"Tell me more."

"I'd be interested in your point of view."

"Would you like to talk about it?"

"Go ahead; I'm listening."

It's not easy to let go, especially when your child is experiencing challenging emotions. However, it's essential to keep in mind the valuable life skills you are teaching your child. Allow them to lead the way in playing, learning, communicating and experience the world through their eyes - you'll be amazed at how much we miss!

Learn more about Parent Effectiveness Training:


Disclaimer: The information contained in this communication is not to be construed as medical advice. Consult a professional on any medical or psychological concerns. The articles and blogs are posted only as opinion or ideas and are general in nature. The administrator takes no responsibility for any action or outcome a reader may make as a result of reading a post.


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