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How To Communicate With Your Child And Avoid Power Struggles

How To Communicate With Your Child And Avoid Power Struggles

Inside this post: How to avoid power struggles with your child and have a more calm and peaceful home.

When a child refuses to do something and the parent insists on the child “doing it immediately,” it’s called a power struggle. As the parent responds, “Yes,” and the child argues, “No,” the continuous banter might become into a war of wills. The longer this debate goes on, the harder it is to convince the child to cooperate. Parents can take efforts to reclaim authority and cease power conflicts.

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How Can You Stop The Power Struggles With Your Child?

Believe it or not, giving your child some control over their life will ease the tension and prevent power struggles in your home.

In the previous example of a power struggle, the mom did not consider the fact that the kids were deeply engaged in an activity and just decided to make the decision to go out for ice cream.

If she had asked her children if they would like to go out for ice cream when they are finished playing, the entire situation would be different.

The mom didn’t mean to start a power struggle, she simply wanted to go out for ice cream, but unintentionally, she did start it.

So, by providing choice to children, those power struggles can be avoided.

Let me clarify though, you do not need to give your child so much power that they run the household… no no no, the power you give your children should be well thought out and strategic.

For example, you CAN let your child decide to wear blue socks instead of the red ones, but if it’s pouring outside, you should not let them decide to wear runners instead of rubber boots.

The choice has to feel insignificant to you, but it has to feel like a big deal to them.

If you find yourself in a power struggle over the same issue on a regular basis, attempt to work out a solution jointly. Look find a solution that everyone can agree on to put an end to the power struggle.

Consider a parent who insisted on their teen’s room is cleaned every day. The adolescent, on the other hand, thought it was ridiculous to clean the room every day, and they battled about it practically every day. They eventually worked out their differences and came to an agreement. Their mother promised to keep their adolescent’s room locked throughout the week, and the adolescent committed to tidy his or her room every weekend. Great way to minimize the power struggle.

When a child refuses to do something and the parent insists on the child “doing it immediately,” it’s called a power struggle. As the parent responds, “Yes,” and the child argues, “No,” the continuous banter might become into a war of wills. The longer this debate goes on, the harder it is to convince the child to cooperate. Parents can take efforts to reclaim authority and cease power conflicts.

No One Wins A Power Struggle

Power conflicts have a number of drawbacks. One issue is that the more you argue or attempt to push the child to do something, the more likely he or she will become angry. You won’t be able to achieve anything if you and your child are both irritated and angry.

When children may engage you in a power battle, it typically causes them to lose focus on their work. If you tell your child to clean his room and they dispute with you, the more time they waste not cleaning their room, the more time they waste. Kids like to play with their parents’ buttons in order to avoid having to do things they don’t want to do.

Finally, in a power battle between adults, the aim is to win. Winning entails making a child do something he or she does not want to do. The more a parent tries to persuade a kid to cooperate, the more resistant the child gets.

Picking your Battles

Allowing your child to experience natural consequences is an option. 1 Sometimes the greatest thing you can do is to take a step back and let nature take its course.

If your 10-year-old refuses to put on his jacket before going outdoors to play, it may not be worth arguing over.

You may try letting them to go out without a jacket unless it is dangerously cold; the natural result is that they will be cold.

Example Of A Power Struggle

Imagine a pretty good day with your kids. The sun is shining, everyone is getting along nicely and everything is going super smooth.

Things are going SO well that you decide to take the kids out for a mid-day ice cream cone at a nearby Dairy Queen.

Sounds super fun right?

Well, you could NOT be more wrong.

The mere suggestion of possibly going out for an ice cream send one of the kids into a full-blown power struggle.

You may ask yourself, what did I do?!

I suggested a fun treat and asked the kids to get into the car so we can go enjoy some ice cream. How did this even come about?

But think about it.

The kids were playing nicely, everyone was engaged in an activity and SUDDENLY they had to drop what they are doing and get into the car…. you bet your butt there will be a power struggle there, even if the trip is to the ice cream shop.

When children are disrupted, given no notice of activity coming to an end, they will push back as hard as they can so they have a chance to finish what they were doing.

How To Communicate With Your Child And Avoid Power Struggles 1

Other Ways To Minimize The Power Struggles In Your Home

Empowering Your children

Empowering instead of overpowering your children can be a huge help in ending the power struggles.

A simple mind shift change can help you see your misbehaving child as a child who needs guidance instead of a “bad” child.

When you discipline your child and overpower them (through yelling, spanking etc ) you make them feel small and powerless.

If you can provide guidance calmly with advice for the next steps to correct the situation, you are empowering your child to make the right decisions and learn from the situation.

Remember – empower, don’t overpower.

Ignore Behavior – Or Step Aside

The first step in dealing with power struggle behaviour efficiently and positively is to avoid them altogether – in other words, refuse to pick up the other end of the rope. A mother inquired as to whether her two-year-old was ready for a sleep. The child answered, “NO.” “Do you want to walk to your bed or do you want me to carry you?” the mother said, feeling challenged. “I’d like you to carry me upside down while tickling me.”

The mother understood that the “no” was an invitation to enter a power struggle, and by avoiding it (neither fighting nor giving in), she produced a pleasant, caring, and loving conclusion instead of the angry and painful ending that nap time can sometimes be. By avoiding the power struggle, you’re telling your child, “I’m not going to fight with you.” I’m not going to injure you in any way.

Honestly, sometimes the best thing to do is ignore the behaviour. If the power struggle is over a cup of juice vs. a cup of water, then don’t provide any solution and just walk away until the child is calm.

When you ignore, you are refusing to engage in the struggle.

Sometimes a great way to ignore the power struggle is to avoid saying “NO” to your child when they ask for something.

No, this does not mean you are “soft” and “raising privileged kids”.

This means that you don’t want to fight, and rather than saying “no, you cannot have a snack right now” you can say dinner is almost ready, let’s wait 15 more minutes than you can eat your favourite spaghetti at the dinner table with me”

For more ways to say No without using the word no, read this article 14 Powerful Positive Phrases To Make You A More Positive Parent

Provide Opportunities For Power (Choices Not Orders)

If you find yourself in the middle of a power struggle, ask yourself, how can I give my child more power in this situation?

For example, if you have trouble with getting your children to the table when dinner is ready, have your child be in charge of setting the table every day.

After avoiding the power struggle, the next stage is to provide options rather than instructions. When a father attempted to change an 18-month-diaper old’s against the kid’s desires, he gave the child the option of which room the change should be made. The child chose a room, but baulked when it was time to change his diaper. “Which bed?” the father said, continuing his strategy to empower the kid.

The diaper was changed once the child pointed to a bed, and the protracted power struggle over diaper changes came to an end.

When providing options to children, parents must ensure that all of the options are acceptable. If you have no intention of leaving the restaurant, don’t give your child the option of sitting quietly or leaving.

Make sure there aren’t too many “autocratic” options. Autocratic options are choices that are so limited that the kid feels he or she has no freedom at all. Young children benefit from having certain options restricted, but wherever feasible, give them wide and open-ended options.

As one option, choices should not be viewed as a penalty. For example, telling a child, “You may either pick up the toys or take a time-out,” instead of empowering them, promotes fear and intimidation.

Make the Unexpected Happen

When one parent senses a power conflict looming, she says, “Let’s go out for a treat.” Her objective is to rebuild her relationship with her children and maintain her ultimate goal of a close, caring, and cooperative environment in mind, not to “reward” poor behaviour.

Teach Children To Say “NO”

Wouldn’t you much rather hear NO from your child rather than some backtalk and excuse?

It’s GOOD for your child to learn to say no, especially when they are faced with bullying and peer pressure at school.

Parents frequently believe that children should not challenge authority or say no to it. It’s funny, though, that most of us parents believe in the “Just Say No” marketing campaign. It is preferable to interpret a childrens NO as a disagreement rather than a rude answer. Teach childrens how to properly and correctly say NO or disagree. Remember that you want kids to say NO to peer pressure and improper settings.

And as annoying as it may seem, your child should be able to say no to you, and you can teach them how to disagree respectfully too.

Powerlessness Breeds Vengeance

Children who are overwhelmed or feel weak will frequently seek retribution as a means of gaining strength. They will want to hurt others because they have been wounded, and they will frequently engage in behaviour that is harmful to themselves. At the age of two and three, vengeance appears in the form of retaliation and messy food spills.

At the age of 16 or 17, vengeance manifests itself in the form of drug and alcohol addiction, pregnancy, failure, run awaying, and suicide.

When childrens engage in power conflicts and spiteful behaviour, they are usually feeling helpless and discouraged about how they can contribute positively and realize that their activities matter.

Most parents want to raise a kid that grows up to be a self-sufficient adult who can make good decisions and has the confidence to be anyone or whatever he or she wants to be. Allowing your child to practise being strong in helpful and acceptable ways can help him or her see the future more clearly.

Beating The Battle Of The Power Struggle With Your Child

Whether your child is 2 or 10, dealing with power struggles is not easy, but hey, parenting is not easy is it.

Just be sure to let your child feel like they are contributing to the household and have some power over their own lives.

We often see teenagers rebel and turn to drugs, alcohol and sex. But those actions can be minimized if your child feels more in control of their lives, so it is really important to minimize the power struggles EARLY in your children’s lives to avoid rebellious behaviour later.

Keep in mind, sometimes the drugs, alcohol, sex etc are influenced by friends, and is no fault of the parent, so you can’t be too hard on yourself either if you’re going through something like that right now.

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How To Communicate With Your Child And Avoid Power Struggles 2

8 thoughts on “How To Communicate With Your Child And Avoid Power Struggles

    • Your child’s reaction to your behaviour will be heavily influenced by your attitude. What more can you expect from a parent whose attitude is already bad when the youngster has to cooperate? It’s no different than being summoned to the office by a manager and immediately suspecting that we’re in trouble due to the manager’s demeanour. We are in charge of children, but they are not drones. Walking into a room with your children and seeming comfortable and unobtrusive makes the children feel as though they aren’t already in danger. I began a mortgage brokerage about a year ago and have had great success because I remind myself every day that I can do it. Children are a major part of how their parents act, and I’m not being judgemental because I had an ODD child. He’d argue with me over everything, even the socks he wanted to wear. I’m also a strong-willed individual. After taking a closer look at my actions, I saw that my kid was not only acting out as a result of my dominance, but he was also following in my footsteps. I’m not suggesting that any of these parents are horrible people or that they don’t know how to parent, but I understand how tough it is to accept that we could be wrong. Maintain a positive mindset and watch your wonderful children develop into positive persons. These days, parents must recognize that their children will be on their own and will not always have a parent to assist them. It is our responsibility as parents to empower our children rather than making them feel helpless.

    • In a restaurant, I wanted to rest. My kid refused to drink tea with us.
      “I’m the one who’ll be drinking the tea.” I told her, “Not you.”
      Being able to separate my wants from those of my 5-year-old daughter has been beneficial to my relationship with her.
      She has complete freedom to make her own decisions. I let her suffer the repercussions of her decisions since she is prone to childish pouting and indifference. I’m not her maid to get her a Coke if she doesn’t ask for it correctly and respectfully, and because she can live without it, I’m fine. as well as some money. I also take the opportunity to tell her that she just needs to ask respectfully the next time.
      What motivates me to accomplish this? I’m afraid I’m going to have a nightmare. That if my kid refuses to acquire proper etiquette and manners, the world will be too harsh for her. I, for one, am opposed to those who are disrespectful.

      I’d hate to watch her stumbling around aimlessly because kind, loving people can’t stand her.

    • What about life-threatening situations? My three little daughters, ages 6, 2, and 1, are quite adventurous and like climbing anything in the home. I explain how hazardous and deadly it is, but the allure makes them want to do it even more. What other options do I have to halt the harmful behaviours?

    • Thank you for writing such an excellent post. It’s impossible to overestimate the value of our children. “Instead of perceiving children’s wilful conduct as “bad” and reacting in a way that overpowers the kid, parents may regard this behaviour as a healthy good indicator of their child’s growth and discover methods to empower the child,” says one of the authors. This is really true, yet it’s challenging right now.

    • Your biggest challenge this Halloween will be keeping an overly excited child calm.
      You will begin to grasp how the playing cards connect to you as you improve. The light at the end of the tunnel is seen.

    • I found your essay on dealing with power conflicts to be quite useful. I have a ten-year-old kid who makes a fuss about going to school every other morning. He usually goes for school in a foul attitude, and we have intense disagreements before he leaves, so I frequently feel like a loser. I’m not sure whether giving him an option that focuses his attention on a more positive part of school would help.

    • Choices are powerful! They can eliminate a lot of fighting in the home.

    • Power struggles are daily around here!

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