Inside this post: How to avoid power struggles with your child and have a more calm and peaceful home.
It starts in toddlerhood.
The power struggles. The breakdowns.
They can come out of nowhere and next thing you know you’re shouting across the house “get your bloody shoes on already, we are late!”
Do you engage in power struggles with your kids?
Honestly, even the most well-behaved children can push back and protest, leading to an exhausted mommy by days end.
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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 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.