Parent-Child Power Struggles
Children overpowered, feel powerless, will seek to gain power fighting and create cooperative relationships that empower both the child and. Learn the biggest reason why kids engage in power struggles. Plus, get 3 simple strategies to fix power struggles with kids. To point out the absurdity of parent–child power struggles, one of my The situation becomes all the more absurd as “The Kid” wins more than a few rounds. Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and .
Why Do Children Power Struggle? A sense of power is a basic social and emotional need. Until about the age of two, a child has very little sense of self. Somewhere in the second year, the child begins to develop a concept of self as separate from the parent. This discovery coincides with the recognition that behavior by the child can create a resultant emotion or behavior by the parent! So a child is learning by observation what causes mom or dad to react, and this reaction creates a sense of power in the child as the one who causes the reaction.
Some of you may object to this idea and for that I just ask you to stay with me a moment. By taking responsibility for causation, you will actually get your parental power back. If you caused it, then you can un-cause it. The most powerless position you can take is to blame your child for their behavior because this leaves you in a hopeless position.
If you are power struggling with your child and you did nothing to cause it then you probably cannot change it either. Alternatively, if you see the way in which you helped your child come to the belief that it is fun or fulfills their need to feel powerful by opposing you, you can choose to stop doing that discipline response. So what is it that we do to cause a child to power struggle with us? Very simply out, we escalate our emotional response.
What does this mean? She learned to crawl over to the entertainment center, pull herself up, and pop open the glass doors.
The glass would become gooey with her fingerprints; she would slam them, bang on them and otherwise frustrate me completely! So the first time I responded this was before I had parenting classes, please keep in mind, this is not how I would respond today! She only became more defiant and was having more fun watching the show that mom was putting on for her. I do think that she learned how fun it was to defy me, and was very interested in finding endless other ways in which to see mom lose control.
So glad you asked! Use any or all of these suggestions and see what a difference it makes! Oftentimes we nag and nag our children about what they should be doing.
Understanding Power Struggles
Or we talk so much that our children become "parent deaf. For example, you ask your child to pick up his toy from the living room floor. He says, "In just a minute. Put a friendly smile on your face, bring your child over to the toy on the floor and walk away. If he says, "What? The minute you start answering questions or talking, you leave the door open to engage in a verbal struggle.
Use one word suggestions.
We make over 2, compliance requests daily to our children, "pick up your toys," "brush your teeth," "eat your cereal," etc. That kind of communication gets old and children just begin to tune it out. Instead, use one word, like "toys" or "teeth" or "cereal. Tell your children ahead of time that you are going to stop nagging so much and that you will be using just one word from now on to say what needs to be done. No is a complete sentence. Children are programmed from birth to push and resist against rules.
Saying no is just a boundary and if you feel guilty or bad for saying no, you are training your children to have the belief that life should go their way and if it doesn't, it's your fault as their parent!
Say no, just once, and if she throws a tantrum, walk out of the room and let her anger be her problem. Teach your children to say no to you in a respectful way. How many of us were allowed to say no growing up? If we weren't allowed to, we did say no in a number of other ways. Like rebelling, or doing a job half-way. Teach your children to say respectfully, "No, I'm not willing to do the dishes, but I will sweep the floors and clear the table.
Give your child choices. We all like to feel powerful and influential and our children are no different. Let them make as many choices as they can that will give them control over what happens to them. For instance, "Do you want to wear your red pajamas or your blue ones? The more they feel valuable to us, the less likely they are to misbehave. Ask their advice on buying clothes, or how to decorate your home. Have them teach you a game or a fun activity.
Use win-win negotiation to resolve conflict. Most of us were not taught the concept of win-win negotiation. We most likely experienced situations that were win-lose or lose-lose. In a power struggle the most effective negotiations are when both sides win and are happy with the end results. It can be challenging since you must listen intently to what the other person wants while staying committed to what you want.
Ask your child, "I see how you can win and that's great, because I want you to win. How can I win, too? Brainstorm solutions to the struggle. The idea is to get wild and crazy and to never discount someone else's idea. Write all the suggestions down and then hand the list to your child first.
Parent child power struggles
She will go through them and cross off the ones that she doesn't like. Then you get the paper and the opportunity to cross off the ones you don't like. Usually there will be two or three suggestions left that the two of you can come to an agreement about. This is a wonderful problem-solving method and with enough practice, it can be done without writing anything down.
Give your child appropriate ways to be powerful. We all want to feel powerful and if we don't have opportunities to do it appropriately, we will create ways to feel powerful that are inappropriate--like power struggles or picking on siblings.
In the middle of a battle with your child, stop and ask yourself, "How can I give my child more power in this particular situation? Sometimes when a parent and child are working on resolving recurring power struggles, it is helpful to have a signal that alerts both of them to this pattern of behavior. Use signals that you both have agreed upon and feel comfortable using.
Remember the more power and control you give your child, the more likely he will be to cooperate. Signals that are funny are also a light way of reminding each other about your patterns.
Make learning fun and enjoyable. Many of us approach disciplining our children with a serious, no-fun-allowed attitude. But think about how much more you learn when you are enjoying yourself.
Parent-Child Power Struggles
For example, try singing "no" instead of speaking in your usual admonishing tone of voice. Or use a gibberish language to ask your child to pick up his socks from the living room floor.
That's a lot better than getting tense and angry and having the power struggles escalate. Some people believe they don't have time to think of unique ways to teach their children or that they aren't creative enough to come up with ideas. Those are just self-limiting thoughts and you would be better served throwing them out of your brain. What is the real cost of handling the struggles in negative ways and what is th lesson that you are really teaching your children?
A great skill for them to have as adults is to think of fun ways to handle difficult situations. You might be able to immediately win a power struggle by forcing your child to do something, but in the long run, you both lose.
In a University of Iowa study, it was found that the average child gets negative comments per day versus 32 positive comments. The more supported your child feels, the less she will want to engage you in power struggles to get a sense of importance.
The investment of giving your full attention and curiosity to your child for a few minutes several times a day will pay big dividends by making your child feel special, unique and loved. This is a method you or your child can do instead of reacting negatively to a situation. Take a break to get into a peaceful state of mind, to work through your emotions and find alternative solutions to the problem.
It is a way to get calm instead of reacting in an angry or hurtful way. Try counting to ten or go to a special space you have created for yourself that is peaceful.
Ask yourself the following questions: