Friday, June 26, 2009

Energy Drain

There's been a week long heat wave (95-100 in both temps and humidity!) in the St. Louis area so somehow talking about the Energy Drain Technique seemed appropriate.

Kids stump us. So next time you are stumped try losing all your energy and see what happens.

Example: Children fighting with one another in the car or at home

Mom (leading with empathy): "Oh Man...

Mom: (stating the problem): "When you guys fight like that it just drains all my energy. " (This would be a good time if you are at home to stop what you are doing and lie on the couch)

Mom: (stating the consequence either delayed or immediate): "I know I told you we were going to stop for ice cream on the way home, but now I just don't have the energy for that." One Mom I know just drove home , didn't stop at DQ and didn't tell the kids all her energy was gone until after they said, "Hey, what about ice cream?"

The next step is follow through. As the children complain loudly, you can simply and empatheticly say "I know. I wanted to stop for ice cream too." One important thing to remember is to not to explain why you made the decision you did. They really are smart enough to figure it out. Also, do not warn them before you use this technique. Love and Logic teaches parents not to use warnings, threats, or lectures. Sometimes when it comes to words. less is more!

Follow up: Now comes the next step.... you might not have energy to do anything for the kids until they put some energy back in you.

How do they out energy back in to you? Dusting, cleaning a bathroom; swiffering the kitchen floor; having cereal for supper so you don't have to cook; using their allowance to pay for a babysitter so you can rest; giving you a neck rub and bringing you a glass of cold ice tea... etc.


  1. Wow. Way to make your kids responsible for your needs.

  2. I've spent years in therapy trying to unlearn that other people's comfort and energy are my job to maintain.

  3. Dear Anonymous! Hey a first name would be nice...:) That's kind of the point. We model taking good care ourselves and this helps children understand they have to take good care of themselves. If they are making a problem for you or for anyone else, then that choice should also have consequences. Arguing in the care is dangerous and distracting to the driver.

  4. Oh one more thing....
    I can tell you are hurting and that makes me sad.

    I guess I do think that in a civil society we do indeed care about the effect of our actions on other peoples comfort and energy. I should not make others lives miserable.... but (if I have healthy psychological boundaries) nor should I allow them to make mine miserable.

    Love and Logic invites you to experiment with what works for you from this tool box. There are no perfect parenting programs, perfect parents, or perfect children. If this doesn't work for you... please don't use it.

  5. I don't understand this at all...

    1. If your energy drain is low, why wouldn't you stop for ice cream?

    2. In your last comment you said "...nor should I allow them to make mine miserable," (referring to making your life miserable). However, by saying "I really wanted to stop for ice cream too," you're sending the complete opposite message...? Something to the effect of: the fighting has made you so miserable that you can't get your ice cream (and later, the kids completing chores might make you feel better). Is this your intention? If so, why would you want to model this behavior to your kids? Why would you want your kids to see a (supposedly stable) adult let fighting ruin their whole day?

  6. Awww Emily,

    You are looking at one post and not the whole idea of allowing children to experience the consequences of their actions. Context is very important. Adults lead with empathy and let consequences do the teaching. That said...natural consequences are the best but sometimes adults must contrive consequences. If you are really interested in Love and Logic I invite you to read Becoming a Love and Logic Parent. There is rock solid psychology behind all of these techniques. It's working in really healthy and positive ways for families all across the nation. Taken piecemeal or without the full background they may not make sense. This blog is really written for those who have some background.

    Again, while I invite anyone to learn and experiment I know that you must pick what you are comfortable using. Emily, you are not comfortable with this utilization of multiple don't use it. If there are some other ones you'd like to explore - yeah!:)

  7. I use 'energy drain' with my 3 year old and it works like a dream. However I have an illness that causes intermittent extreme fatigue. He keeps trying to 'put my energy back' by doing chores. It breaks my heart. I try to explain that he has not caused my illness. Is there a different way to use this that won't confuse him?

  8. Oh man! Kali, this is a challenge. I can encourage you to take this one straight to L&L at 1-800338-4065. Off the top of my head though I can brainstorm some ideas you might want to experiment with. First, you have an awesome little boy who seems to have a sweet empathetic heart. At age 3 he can understand the difference between tired and sick so, maybe explain the difference to him. Explain, "Sometimes being sick makes me tired" and then even though you are the best little boy the only thing that really helps is for me to rest. Maybe you could use the term energy drain for discipline and keep the term tired for sickness.

  9. How about - OH man, that behavior really drained the energy from the family fun bank. Now we don't have the energy to do that cool stuff we talked about. How can we build it back up? Quick clean up? Say nice things to each other? Make a card for dad? I feel like this has the same point, but instead of it focusing on one person hurting or fixing another, it relies on us all being in it together and either adding to or taking from our common family fun bank. We're in it together.


Thank you. Your stories and comments are appreciated as we form a community that helps and encourages one another. You may contact the author, Jill Hasstedt at