Common Parenting Question About Energy Drain Difficulties:
I recently received a great question from a parent. It is a situation that occurs frequently, I know I dealt with it when our kids were growing up:
“I have an 8 year old and have been trying to use the energy drain with him. I started last weekend however on 2 instances, he had something to say back to me. First time, he said to me that he too has an energy drain since he lost some toy in response to me telling him it’s an energy drain. The 2nd time, he plainly told me that I couldn’t have an energy drain because I am not dead. So, I am kinda surprised that this technique is not working for him. What am I doing wrong here? The technique sounds great, I’ve been listening to the audio book but it all sounds wonderful until I apply it in real life. Please help.”
It is common for the child to “back talk” after a consequence has been issued, especially if the parent gives negative attention for the back talk.
Look at the triangle diagram in your packet (if you are one of my students). Notice the red section. “Empathy, Consequence (in this case Energy Drain), Empathy, Empathy…
Don’t Get Sucked Into an Argument With Your Child – Use Empathetic One-Liners & Remove Yourself
You need to keep empathy flowing through the back talk. If you respond to him during the back talk you are giving power to your son in the negative. Teaching him that arguing is the way to get what he wants…bad life skill. Here is an example:
Child says, “No, you can’t make me pick up my clothes”
Parent: “Bummer, that’s an energy drain” (parent begins to walk away)
Child: “You can’t have an energy drain you’re not dead”
Parent: “Maybe so”, “I know, bummer” (anything from the “one-liner” handout (parent is out of the room folding laundry).
I like to remove myself when there is back talk coming from kids. So you are combining Remove the Parent and Energy Drain.
In this case, you need to only use the energy replacement of having you rest and relax. Therefore, not providing something for him, such as driving him to his friend’s house, etc. He is not ready for doing chores to put the energy back. He will make it a power struggle. You need to stop the back talk because it is feeding him negative attention. Over time, you will be able to talk with him about how he wants to put the energy back in: such as doing chores or helping you rest and relax? When you see him stop the back talk that is the time to offer him a choice of how he wants to put energy back in you.