How to Avoid Power Struggles with Your Kids
Even the most well-behaved children will try to gain power over their parents from time to time. However, those parents going through continuous power struggles need to learn how to avoid these incidents and regain control. The problem is that when children believe they have power over their parents, they grow up to believe they can act however they want to get whatever they want, which is not most parent’s goal. Instead, you need to handle power struggles in a way that fosters healthy life skills.
Work on Your Communication
Anytime you lose your cool or scream at your kid during a power struggle, your child is actually winning. Not only do they believe they have power in the situation, but they also have learned poor communication skills. Instead, you must teach your children what is upsetting them calmly. For instance, sometimes the best way to handle a power struggle is to respond as quietly and calmly as possible. This lets your child know you are not willing to debate over this particular issue.
Teach Your Child How to Solve Problems Independently
Your children must learn how to handle problems themselves. In addition to effective communication, children need to learn how to solve problems. If a child does not want to complete a chore, he/she must understand why this task is necessary and what will happen if it goes undone.
Pick Your Battles
Children go through phases where they are more demanding of power. During these seasons, it is critical to pick your battles. Rather than allowing every request to turn into a power struggle, you should try to decide which struggles matter in the long run. While you do not want your toddler to feel like he/she runs the house, is it worth fighting over the cup of choice?
Set Clear Rules and Boundaries
One of the most effective ways to avoid power struggles altogether is to set clear rules and boundaries in the beginning. When parents stay consistent, the power struggle becomes less powerful. For example, if your child knows the rule and the consequence for breaking the rule, then when the power struggle begins, you shut down the argument by only saying, “You know the rule. You know the consequence.” The key is reinforcing consequences and staying consistent.
Allow Room for Some Choices
All kids want to feel like they have some sense of power. You can give your children some sense of control by giving them choices. For example, I give my son the choice of when to do his homework. He knows his homework has to be done either right after school or after dinner. If he chooses to wait until after dinner, he misses out on game time.
Ultimately, we want out children to think for themselves, but we also want them to learn how to work well with others. That begins at home.