Power struggles with your child can happen because of several reasons. If you were in the middle of doing something and your husband barked at you to empty the dishwasher right now, you might not be so inclined to do it, right? This is exactly how your kids feel when you demand they do what you want, this instance. There are ways to approach the situation so you don’t have power struggles with your kids and they willingly do what is asked of them.
Prevent Power Struggles
Give Them A Choice
Using the example from before, when we are told to do something, we feel powerless. Did you want to empty the dishwasher RIGHT NOW? I am guessing no. You felt resistant because you think you are being forced to do something, and no one likes being forced. So, give them a choice. “Do you want the empty the dishwasher now or in 10 minutes?” “Would you like to do your homework before or after dinner?” You are still getting the task done, but now they have more power over their actions and can decide when they want to do it (within reason).
Let them know, however, that if they fail to hold up their end of the bargain, they won’t get a choice next time.
Avoid the Argument
Whenever you engage in an argument with your child, you are sending the message that they can challenge what you are saying. This leads to more defiance and further arguments. If/when your child tries to start an argument, don’t take the bait. Remind them they were given a choice and if they don’t like either of them you will not get into a power struggle with your child. Calmly tell them it is the end of the discussion and you refuse to argue. Then walk away. It takes two to have an argument.
Keep the Kids Involved
The more involved they are in setting up the rules and routines, the more likely they are to follow them in the future. Keeping them involved will make them feel they have more power and will engage in less power struggles. also, your children may have some insight when you want to establish new rules that you can take into consideration.
For example, if there is a toy that is shared between siblings, make a schedule so they can each get equal time to play with it. By knowing they will eventually get a turn, they are less likely to engage in power struggles with each other.
Work With Them
If you are able to do a task alongside them, they will consider it less of a “have-to” situation. Let them know you are the one who needs the help and not the reverse. They typically will lend a hand if they know the entire burden isn’t solely on them.
Set aside some time to help them. You don’t need to be there the whole time to get them involved in the task. In addition, make sure they are doing their fair share of the chore and not allowing you to do the brunt of the work.
The idea is to create a system where the power struggles with your child are completely avoided. By involving your children in the decision-making process, you allow them some power over their actions. And less like they just need to follow the rules “because I said so.” They will follow the rules they were instrumental in creating as they will know they are more appreciated.
What are some of the power struggles you have in your family? Let me know in the comments!