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The Vegas Principle

The Background

Kids thrive under structure and routine. In fact, research shows that providing clear expectations and being consistent with consequences are keys to building resilience.

Counter-intuitive as it seems, power struggles happen when this isn't the case.

What is it?

If you were to enter a casino, place a bet and then lose the bet, only to have the dealer return your money, what would you do? You’d bet again…and again and again. Why? It's simple - you have nothing to lose.

Parents do this unwittingly all the time. We say "no" and then tolerate complaining and arguing as kids try to change our decision. Why does this happen despite repeatedly telling them to stop?

Again, they have nothing to lose! The answer is already “no." At best, parents might change their mind. At worst, the response will still be “no.”

The Vegas Principle is creating a scenario where there is something to lose.

How to Use It?

You’ve agreed on screen time limits, and your child is always (always!) nagging for more. You say “no” and explain why. Your child expertly and systematically pulls apart your reasons or simply argues.

Your options?

  • prolong the argument by arguing your case,

  • lose your patience and blow up, or

  • apply the Vegas Principle:

Your Script in Action

Validate and Set Boundary

I know that screen time is so much fun and it’s hard to wait unitl later, but we agreed on the rules. Please stop discussing it.”

Give a Choice (if the nagging continues)

You can choose to stop talking about this and you’ll get the phone at 7; or you can choose to to continue, and you’ll have no screens until tomorrow.”


  • Stop talking.

  • Walk away.

  • It’s easier for your child to save face if you aren’t looking at him.

Follow Through (if he follows you or continues to argue)

I guess you’ve chosen to wait for screen time until tomorrow.”

Remain Neutral

  • At first she may become more disrespectful.

  • Bite your tongue.

  • She’ll wear out on her own.

*** Do not engage or up the ante.

Follow Through Part II (at 7:00 when she asks again)

I agree it’s no fun to not have screen time tonight; I know you’ll do better tomorrow.”

Remember: You are empowering your child with complete control over whether or not he could have his privilege.

And you are modeling respect and self-control.


The next time your child argues over a limit, give this a try. When it works and you feel good, your brain starts wiring in the habit of sticking to your boundaries.

What would it mean to you to not only have more calm at home but also actively build resilience, empowerment, and strong mental health in your child?

It's possible - and in just 6 weeks you can see a world of difference in your famly and change the course of your child's life.

You don't have to do it alone. Reply to this email or call for a free consult - let's see if we're a fit.

Mary Smith Parent Coach is passionate about sharing practical, powerful habits that take one minute with parents to simply and quickly sow the roots of connection and engagement with their children while creating calm in the household.

I've Been There! Sincerely, Mary


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