Imbalance of Family Power May Be the Cause of Unruly Children

Beyond Time Out From Chaos to Calm pic
Beyond Time Out From Chaos to Calm

After many years as a child psychologist, Dr. Beth Grosshans wrote the popular parenting book Beyond Time-Out: From Chaos to Calm. A major aspect of Beth Grosshans’ theory is that unruly children often suffer from what she calls an imbalance of family power, or IFP.

Difficult children who fight with their parents on a range of issues, from toileting to sleeping independently and causing trouble at mealtime, may indicate that the family has IFP. The general rule is that family life should be peaceful about 70 percent of the time; any less than that indicates a larger issue.

With IFP, the children have too much power. They cannot see their parents as authority figures, and parents often respond by becoming unruly and throwing tantrums themselves. Many children try tactics to get their own way, and when these tactics work, they use them often.

It’s natural for children to test out family boundaries. When the boundaries break too easily, however, children start to gain power and authority, taking on a leadership role that can lead to a great amount of anxiety. Children do not, of course, yet have the capacity to manage such responsibility in their lives, and badly need their parents to act as leaders and authority figures. Addressing the issue of IFP can help many families right the balance of power and develop a peaceful home environment.


The Ladder To Effectiveness for Parenting Unruly Children

Beyond Time Out From Chaos to Calm pic
Beyond Time Out From Chaos to Calm

Dr. Beth Grosshans is a retired licensed clinical psychologist with a PhD in clinical child psychology from the Ohio State University. Beth Grosshans is working to update her 2008 book, Beyond Time Out: From Chaos to Calm on parenting unruly children.

The thesis of the book is that many unruly children misbehave because children have far too much power in the family relationship. The advice of many parenting experts over the past 40 years or so, the book suggests, have made parents feel intimidated about disciplining their children.

Children need to know that parents are authority figures, the book argues, and though it can be uncomfortable, they must find ways to discipline their children gently and responsibly. When parents can do so, children will quickly calm down, relieved of the responsibility of too much power and able to trust her parents as authority figures.

One of the tools Beyond Time Out offers is the idea of the Ladder To Effectiveness. There are five steps, or rungs, to the ladder that parents can climb one at a time. Parents only need to go as high on the ladder as necessary to find compliance in the child. This technique teaches children in an action-based context, helping them to learn important lessons of self-control and cooperation, and thus restore the balance of power in the family.

A Brief Overview of Planned Parenthood’s Services

Planned Parenthood pic
Planned Parenthood Logo

Dr. Beth Grosshans studied child psychology at Ohio State University and Harvard Medical School. After nearly two decades as a private practitioner, Dr. Beth Grosshans took a leave of absence in 2011 to pursue other interests, including her support of Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood provides an array of health services to men and women. The organization primarily focuses on providing services and information regarding birth control, abortion, and the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). The Planned Parenthood website, which can be found at, even maintains a live chat feature that allows individuals who have recently engaged in unprotected sex to discuss their concerns with a knowledgeable representative.

Planned Parenthood offers the morning after pill as a safe form of emergency contraception that can effectively prevent pregnancy within five days of unprotected sexual activity. Similarly, birth control allows individuals to plan the timing of a pregnancy. The abortion pill and in-clinic abortion services offer safe ways to end a pregnancy. Planned Parenthood also advocates various forms of protection to prevent STDs and helps people learn about proper condom use.