In our society, parents are expected to be authoritarian and responsible for everything their kids do. Kids who struggle with parents are seen as spoiled, mischievous, and stubborn.
Yet, we know that bringing up a child is not a one-way street. It’s a give-and-take relationship. Parenting is not about being the boss of your child or telling them what to do all the time; it’s about guiding them in making good decisions.
However, when it comes to parenting, most of us find it difficult to strike a balance between being an authoritative parent and being a friend to your kid.
Here are some helpful ways on how you can avoid power struggles with kids:
Establish consistent routines and rules
A child who knows what to expect will be more cooperative. You should have a set of rules that you have discussed with your child, and you should enforce them consistently.
If you’ve come up with a set of rules that you want to enforce in your house, make sure that those rules are consistent. Your child should know what is expected of them, so they know what to do in different situations. When your child knows what’s expected of them, they are more likely to cooperate.
Parents often complain that they have trouble getting their kids to follow the rules. When this happens, it’s usually because the parents haven’t set the rules clearly enough.
To avoid this problem, sit down with your child and talk about what’s expected. Make sure you don’t come across as a dictator, though. Your child should feel free to express his opinions.
Don’t react to provocations
It’s a common mistake to react to your child’s provocations. If your child pouts or throws a tantrum, don’t get drawn into a power struggle. Briefly acknowledge that your child is upset and then leave the room. When you can’t leave the room (e.g. when you’re at work or in a car), try to change the subject, or wait for your child to relax.
It’s important that you don’t get drawn into a power struggle with your child. If you give in to your child’s demands every time they throw a tantrum, you’ll only teach them to be more demanding.
If you ignore your child’s demands, you’ll show them that those tactics don’t work. In time, your child will learn to handle his frustration in a more appropriate way.
Give clear consequences
Make sure that your child knows what the consequences will be if he breaks the rules. You should follow through on those consequences whenever your child breaks a rule. When your child knows that there are consequences for his behaviour, he’ll be less likely to misbehave. If your child breaks a rule, make sure you follow through with the consequences you’ve set.
If you promise to take away your child’s TV time if he breaks the rules, don’t let him watch TV the next day just because he’s being good. If your child knows that you’re consistent, he’ll be more likely to cooperate. When you give a consequence, explain why you’re doing it.
For example, if you take away your child’s video game time because he didn’t clean his room, tell him that you’re doing it because he needs to learn to clean his room when he’s told to do it.
This will help your child understand why he’s being punished, which will make him less likely to rebel against the punishment.
Set firm boundaries and stick to them.
You can’t have good relationships with anyone if you don’t have firm boundaries. Boundaries are the limits that you have set for your child and are what keep him from getting into too much trouble and from hurting himself or others.
If your child knows what the boundaries are, he’ll know where to stop. If your child breaks a rule or ignores your boundaries, you have to enforce the consequences like you would for any other rule. You have to enforce rules consistently if you want your child to learn anything. If your child breaks a rule, don’t make him feel guilty or defensive, and don’t drag the incident out.
Calmly, but firmly, tell him what the rule is and what he did wrong. If your child breaks a rule and you don’t correct him, you’re effectively sending him a message that what he did was okay.
Use effective communication skills
As a parent, it’s your responsibility to guide your child and teach him how to communicate effectively and respectfully with others. If your child breaks a rule, he should know how to apologize and how to negotiate with other kids.
If your child knows how to communicate respectfully with other people, they’ll respond to him better. If your child has a problem with another child, he should know how to talk to his friend about it and come up with a solution that makes both children happy.
If your child knows how to communicate effectively, he’ll be less likely to break the rules because he’ll know how to talk to people and solve problems appropriately.
Try Collaborative Problem Solving
If your child breaks a rule, try solving the problem together. Have your child come up with solutions to prevent the problem from happening again.
Ask him what he thinks he could do better next time. He should feel like he’s being heard and like he’s part of the problem-solving process. Problem-solving also helps your child learn from his mistakes.
If your child breaks a rule, try to make sure that he understands the reason for the rule and how the rule is for his own good.
Your child should feel like he’s part of the decision-making process, not like he’s being unfairly punished.
Parenting is a difficult job. It can feel like a constant battle trying to get your child to do what you want them to do. If you feel like you’re in a power struggle with your child, it’s important that you take a step back and evaluate how the situation could be improved.
If you establish consistent routines and rules, don’t react to provocations, give clear consequences, set firm boundaries and stick to them, and use effective communication skills, your child will be much more cooperative.