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Addressing Power Struggles with Your Child

Kids love to argue. It's how they exercise their independence. If you have a child in elementary school, there is a really good chance you have, at some point, found yourself right in the middle of a power struggle. Sometimes parents don't even see it coming; it sneaks up on them, and they wonder how they get there. Knowing what to do when your child engages in a power struggle can help you avoid them!

Standing Down in Power Struggles

Parents, for the most part, do not like engaging in power struggles. Engaging in them only fuels the desire to find a way to re-assert power over a child. The interesting thing about power struggles is that it takes two people to have one. The best way to eliminate power struggles with your child is simply to refuse to engage in them. That may sound easier said than done, but it's the only way you can win.

Tips to address power struggles with your child:

  • Create routines for your child and household. Children thrive on routines and need to know what is expected of them.
  • Use a behavior chart to keep kids from engaging in struggles. Give your child a checkmark for each day she avoids a power struggle, and, after a set number of days, give her a reward for her positive behavior.
  • Pick your battles. Not every little thing is worth going to the mat on, especially if you have a child who loves to argue and engage in power struggles.
  • Give your child a warning. The more she knows and can expect, the better she will be prepared for the consequences.
  • Walk away from a power struggle. Power struggles can't happen if you do not engage in them. If one starts, ignore it or leave the room.
  • Be consistent and use positive discipline techniques. One of the most important things in a child's life is consistency. If your child knows that you will immediately walk away from or tune out a power struggle, she will stop trying to use them to get her way.

The next time a power struggle sneaks up on you, turn the other cheek and avoid getting involved! It pays to remember that power struggles are like playing a game of tug-of-war with your child. If there is no resistance, then there is no struggle. So, when you find yourself in one of these struggles, simply let go of the rope for a while and try to approach things from a different angle.