Does it feel like you are constantly engaged in a battle with your child? Do you feel like everything is a negotiation and you are always on the losing side? Sounds like you are in a power struggle with your child.
A power struggle is when neither you nor your child are willing to change your position and the emphasis is on winning the fight, and not about coming together to work toward a solution.
So how do you get out this frustrating cycle with your child? You need to free yourself of the need to win. Parents who are constantly searching for the victory never win it. In fact, when you think of parenthood as a battle, you’ve already lost.
Parenting is about empowering, not overpowering.
Read below for the 7 most powerful and easy ways that you can sidestep the battle and get your child to “yes” faster.
1.Calm words are more powerful than yelling
Sit down and ask yourself “When I yell, what am I thinking? What’s preventing me from remaining calm?” Are you triggered by your own experience as a child when your mom yelled at you? Do you have difficulty controlling your own emotions in general?
You have to put in the work on yourself so your message is most effectively communicated to your child. This way your child will more likely be guided by your words and less likely to rebel. Not to mention, it will just feel better to stay calm and not spin out of control.
2. Forget the need to defend yourself
Your child is going to try to put you in a corner so you can fight your way out of it. Don’t. Side step any traps your child may be laying out for you. If you feel like your child is your opponent on the debate team, you need to reframe your thinking.
Discussions together should be collaborative. If you find yourself defensively explaining yourself, and unable to hear your child’s side, you are already at a stalemate.
Collaborating together to come up with a solution, rather than defending your position without hearing her side, will help you both come to a peaceful resolution.
3. Be reasonable in your requests
Nothing starts off a power struggle more than an unreasonable request from you. You need to make sure your directives are achievable and within your child’s capabilities. That means stop measuring success by what you can do, and put yourself in your child’s shoes.
4. Be mindful of age appropriate independence
As kids get older they grow more independent. It is absolutely normal and reasonable that your child would object to some of your directives, even if you are in the right. Recognizing these disagreements as a strength will help you change your thinking and lower your frustration.
Ultimately, independence is something to be celebrated. Be careful your struggle for power isn’t a subliminal stunt for your child to remain your little girl forever.
5. Model respect and courtesy
Children are sponges. The phrase “Do as I say, not as I do” just doesn’t work. So you need to take an assessment of how you talk to your child. Think through your last argument and the words you said and how you said it. Is that the way you want to be talked to? Would you listen if you were spoken to in that way? If not, try changing your tone, throw in a few more “please” and “thank you’s,” and see how your child’s behavior changes. I bet you it’s for the better!
6. State your case and then back off
Your child is going to try to engage you in a back and forth. She’s a negotiator and good at it! Try not to get sucked into it. If you need something accomplished, state the directive, the reason, give her a time frame, and say you’ll check back in with her in 10 minutes. That’s the end of it.
7. Let logical consequences take over
So she’s not combing her hair, brushing her teeth, or doing her laundry? Don’t battle it. Logical consequences (consequences that logically follow when your child violates socially acceptable behavior) are a powerful reaction your child needs to experience. Your child might need to experience her peers saying “What’s up with your hair?” or “Dude, your breath stinks.” No, she won’t be a social pariah. She just needs to experience others’ perspectives, and rescuing her from that may be working against you.
Bottom line: Power struggles are about pushing buttons. Only you can allow your buttons to be pushed. Take a step back and assess your need for control, and then let go. Collaboration not only feels better for you, it helps your child grow into an independent, healthy human being.
Please comment below: Do you find yourself engaging in a power struggle with your child? What techniques have you used to sidestep the battle and move forward together?
Jenmarie Eadie is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who is passionate about helping children to become less stressed by giving them and their parents tools, support and encouragement. She received her Master’s in Social Work from Arizona State with a dual concentration in Children, Youth, and Families; and Behavioral Health. Her proudest accomplishment is following her dream of opening up a practice that is designed to focus on the whole family. She currently serves families in Southern California.