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    Breanne Hansen

    Parenting. Does anyone else feel like raising kids is a dance that takes us on both sides of that line between internal and external control? Please comment below with your points to ponder or tips on parenting with choice theory.

    I’d like to start the conversation with you choice theorists about chores and children:

    Is allowance a ‘reward’ (disconnecting habit) or a natural consequence for following through with agreed upon responsibilities? And if they do not follow through on an agreed set of responsibilities or chores; is the withholding of allowance a punishment or a natural consequence?


    Hi Breanne,

    I have quite a bit of material that helps parents with how to work with their children. I have a year’s work of topics that provide a wide range of topics for parents on parenting skills. I also work through a small quiz which I have had for a few years now from a friend and colleague in Australia. She has written a few books and one is “How to Raise Good Kids” by Judith McFadden. Judy also wrote a fantastic book on weight loss called N.E.C.T.A.R.

    I have also a wealth of material on parenting since I worked with a small school within our school district and met parents at least once a month, We reviewed topics on Quality Time; social contract with children; the differences between punishment and consequences, so many more topics. There was such a difference in outcomes regarding marks in that school and it worked so well in great harmony with Dr. Glasser’s ideas. So, I can share much with you.




    Breanne Hansen

    Thank you Jean! This book looks like it would be a great resource 🙂

    Dr Nancy Buck

    Hello All,

    I am the author of “Peaceful Parenting” that includes my book by the same name, plus 4 more. My work is the application of Choice Theory psychology to parenting.

    I am now happily “retired” from my most recent position where I was employed working as a Parent Coach for parents of children on the Autism spectrum, as well as being neuro diverse, and having a mental illness diagnoses. Boy I learned a lot from these parents!

    I think you expressed this relationship perfectly Breanne, as the dance between the internal and external. Doesn’t that also describe life in general. Choice Theory psychology applied to parenting is challenging, in that part of a parent’s job is to manipulate and accommodate the external world for our child’s growth and learning. When children are infants and babies, this is much of what we do — restrict our child’s freedom by using safety gates and removing anything that might hurt our child or that our child might hurt. But as our child grows, is better able to manage herself including her feelings/impulses and begin to manage his internal to accommodate and manipulate the external, we begin to help our child to learn to manage the ever increasing freedom in responsible and respectful ways. EG: “Yes son, you can go to a friend’s house to play. I’ll pick you up at 4:30PM so please be ready to leave by that time.” Because you have taught your child how to do this, you feel comfortable relying on his internal signals and responsible behaviors to comply. Among the many things that parenting is, one major parenting job is to SLOWLY INCREASE YOUR CHIILD’S FREEDOM AS S/HE LEARNS RESPONSIBLE AND RESPECTFUL BEHAVIORS TO INDEPENDENTLY MANAGE THIS FREEDOM. This allows your child to meet her increasing need for freedom while parents meet their ever present need of keeping their child safe.

    As far as your questions about allowance, I have found that this is an ever present parenting quandary. My belief and recommendation is that parents give their child allowance WHETHER THEY DO THEIR CHORES, HOMEWORK, ETC. OR NOT. Giving your child allowance is the first step parents can use in teaching their child to have a healthy, respectful relationship with money.
    Expecting your child to do chores is a completely separate and necessary issue. My belief and recommendation is that everyone who lives in the household contributes to the general order, cleanliness, calm, and pleasant atmosphere of home. My general tip is that parent/s make a list of all chores needing attention, and that your child chooses which one or ones (depending on age) she will do. This is general, but I can offer more specifics if you’re interested.
    If/when parents connect chores and allowance that is NOT consistent with the internal instructions of choice theory. I’d love us to talk about this too:
    I WANT?

    Let’s please continue this dialogue! Parenting is the most difficult, most challenging, and most rewarding job of our life time. I’m always happy to share, learn and grow in this topic.


    Breanne Hansen

    Thank you for your thoughtful post Nancy!
    I actually feel a sense of freedom around the idea of providing a set allowance ‘no strings attached’ – it takes the load off of me to double check that the chores are being done- calculate the difference, micro-manage….yuck. That is not the kind of parent I want to be, it’s not what I want to spend my time doing & I don’t want to punish them for being kids and getting caught up in play, life, school work etc.
    It is so helpful to have these conversations to recalibrate – my husband and I want to teach our children the ‘realities’ of life (you work, you get paid – you don’t go to work, you don’t get paid) but I also think there is an important opportunity to teach my kids that satisfaction comes from knowing they have contributed to the team in a meaningful way (without that foreboding feeling/knowing that they have to do it or else they lose out on something they want.)

    So we have made lists of household & farm chores before, the kids have chosen where they want to contribute and we even negotiate fair, natural consequences should they not follow through on their commitments. For that first one or two weeks everything is magical. Then… resistance & at times a complete disregard for basic cleanliness, like bringing down dirty laundry. As I’m typing this I think I problem solved for myself how to avoid this back-slide: bimonthly check-ins. Every two weeks we can reevaluate how things are going, if their workload at school has changed, are there adjustments or areas that need renegotiating? – Perhaps doing this could help us all avoid frustration. Can you co-verify this thought direction? What would you suggest?

    Dr Nancy Buck

    Sorry for my delay in answering.
    It sounds like you’re on a good track! And you can discuss with your kiddos “How do you want me to handle it if you don’t follow through on your chore? I don’t want to be a nagging mom, nor do I want to resort to withholding privileges. Let’s make a plan ahead of time so we all know what to expect, ok?”

    As parents, we want to teach our children the “3 Rs” of daily expectations:
    Here they are 3 Rs:
    R=relationships that are respectful, kind and connected. The relationship are with all of the important people in your child’s life, from teacher, to best friend, to sousing, to parent and siblings. This also includes a child’s relationship with him/herself with proper eating, body, dietary and sleeping hygiene, etc.
    R=responsibilities that include chores, school work, attending extra activities likes sports, or musical lessons etc.
    R=right order and right choices. Brushing your teeth before consuming breakfast wouldn’t be the right order, for example. Playing a video game before completing school homework wouldn’t be the right order or the right choice is another example.

    When your child successfully and regularly completes his/her 3Rs, then extras make sense. Or, stated from a choice theory point of view, it doesn’t make sense for parents to grant additional freedom until you child demonstrates that he/she can manage his/her present level of freedom. Extras are what you all decide they are and include the privilege of additional and unusual freedom.

    What do you think? Please share your feedback and questions.


    Breanne Hansen

    Wow – yes Nancy! “It doesn’t make sense for parents to grant additional freedom until your child demonstrates that he/she can manage his/her present level of freedom.” THIS. This is going to be a game changer in conversations with Hunter & Julia. Thank you for these tools Nancy! There is no blame here, we can still have a close relationship and talk about these expectations. I know they would love to be involved in the decision making process for how things should be handled when there is no follow through, I’ve just never thought to ask them how they would like me to handle it.

    Thank you.

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