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Preparing for the Power Struggle

Power struggles are an inevitable part of raising a child. At some point during their life your child will question your authority, choices and decisions. You should be prepared to encounter power struggles with a variety of information and solutions to solve these arguments. It's important to remain cool and collected in the face of power struggles or chaos will certainly ensue. Being prepared for these unavoidable events will limit their severity.

Help for Parents to Improve Behavior

Recognizing that every child will eventually question their parent's authority is the first step to accepting and ultimately avoiding power struggles. As children continue to grow and develop they will want to make their own rules and won't feel the need for their parents to set boundaries and guidelines. However it's important that you stand your ground and resist the urge to feed into the struggle. For many, this can be a tough task to accomplish. Follow the guidelines below to successfully combat power struggles.

  • Don't add fuel to the fire. Giving in and fighting back with your child will raise the stakes of the power struggle. When they realize they're angering you it will only further entice them. You need to remain calm and refuse to fight back.
  • Back yourself up with body language. Don't put all your attention into words; realize your body language speaks just as much as the words that come out of your mouth.
  • Choices, not orders. Your child will be less inclined to initiate an argument when they feel they had a choice in the matter, and didn't receive directions that can in the form of an order. For example, "Please pick up your toys or you bedtime will be 30 minutes earlier tonight." This provides them with a chance to make their own decisions and ultimately suffer their own consequences.
  • Set up a Behavior Chart and Reward System to focus on and reward good behavior.
  • Be flexible. As your child grows older you need to allow them to make some of their own choices and decisions. Consequences for the wrong decision will ensue, but that's all part of growing up and learning how to determine right from wrong.
  • There's no winner. Power struggles should never result in a winner and loser. Instead, you should try to turn the circumstance into a win-win situation through compromising. If you're constantly deemed the "winner" of the struggle your child will learn to hold grudges and be vengeful.

It's important to realize that everyone wants to feel powerful, even your child. Being prepared for power struggles is half the battle. Realize that your child wants to be viewed as a "big person" not a little kid. Although it may result in you becoming frustrated, power struggles are part of the maturing process.