How to Get Out and Stay Out of Power Struggles!

If you are feeling challenged, like your authority is being threatened, you want to make your child do something... you are in a power struggle.

Being in a power struggle with your child is absolutely miserable and exhausting. You maybe able to make her do what you want, but at what costs? Here are some

reasons why it is important for you to get out of and stay out of power struggles.

•It can easily escalate and get out control ie. things get said and done that you regret.

•You lose sight of the bigger picture of what you want to be teaching your child.

•It hurts and creates resentment, hostility and revenge.

•It builds a wall between the two of you.

•It creates dread of yet another power struggle.

•It teaches your child an ineffective and unhealthy way to connect in relationships.

•You feel guilt ridden for using force to get your child to cooperate.

•Power struggles often intensify as the child gets older.

All of these basically suck the joy out of your relationship.

When in a power struggle, put a governor on your ego, step away from your child, take some deep breaths and try one of the following 4 techniques to redirect a power struggle:

1.Check and Redirect Your Intentions. One of the biggest reasons we get into power struggles is that we do not hold our ego in check. Our dark and twisty intentions may be about:

  • controlling your child,

  • whether not our child makes us look good,

  • wanting to avoid conflict,

  • trying to please everyone,

  • and wanting to hurt back - all of which I have done!

Instead, we are most effective when our intentions are about teaching life skills, being supportive, understanding their needs and being willing to let our children beat to their own drums.

2.Hold Out Your Hand.

Have ever had your child grab your phone, magic marker or any other object you don’t want them to have? Frustrating isn’t it? If you grab the object out of their hands, you are only teaching the child that grabbing is ok. But you don't want to let her run wild with the object. One way to handle this situation is to hold out your open-faced hand, put a friendly smile on your face and wait for them to give it back to you without saying ANYTHING. If she refuses, softly stroke their hand or their face. It usually works like a charm! You would not use this method if your child had a knife or other dangerous item.

What if your toddler runs off with the item? Awe yes. toddlers love to be chased. During a fun time, explain to you little one that you two will have chase me times and non-chase me times. Then tell her, that if you say, “This is not a chase me time,” she must stop what she is doing. To reinforce this, role play both chase me times and non-chase me times.

Has your teen been abducted by an electronic device? This tool works wonders here too. However, it is imperative you put a friendly look on your face and DO NOT SAY A WORD .

3.Use Loving Guidance

When you need your child to move, some parents will guide them from the back of their head which throws them off balance, causing them to naturally want to resist. Some parents pull their arm which frequently hurts the child. The best way to move them is by gently rubbing the small of their back and at the same time use a forward moving slight pressure.

4.Make Agreements

Ashley found herself at an impasse with her son, Max, about the amount of time he could play on his favorite educational game. So they negotiated an agreement. He could play his game twice a day for 30 minutes. Negotiations should start by stating what you want and then asking the child what they want. You may want to alternate who starts asking for what they want so you don’t become a child centered parent.

The idea behind the negotiations is both people are happy with the outcome. If one person is not happy, they are likely to sabotage the agreement.

Warning: Making agreements can be time consuming. It is more time efficient to just tell the child how it will come down, but not relationship efficient. If the two can not agree, set a time when you can re-negotiate.

There should be some things that are non-negotiatable like seat belts, bedtime etc.

If your child develops a habit of breaking his agreement, prevent this from happening using the phrase, “What should happen if you don’t keep your agreement?” In this case, Max said, “You can take the game and put it up until tomorrow.”

Max did end up breaking his agreement. Mom was prepared for the test. She took his game and said in a friendly voice, “You can try again tomorrow.”

It is helpful to give a very short lesson on how important it is to keep agreements, how it builds trust. And what are the consequences of a person who continually breaks their agreements. Keep it short! Children learn to tune us out when we talk to much.

Stay tuned for the next "How to Get Out and Stay Out of Power Struggles" series .

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Kathryn Kvols | Redirecting Children's Behavior

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