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How to End the Power Struggles

Kids argue. They argue with each other, they argue with siblings, and they argue with parents. Kids often argue because they feel it may increase their chances of getting their way. Or maybe they just like to see the stress it causes you!

Either way, there are a number of positive steps you can take to bring those power struggles to an end.

Power Struggles Take Two

A power struggle takes two people. If one person refuses to participate, the struggle ends. The most effective way to end a power struggle is to simply not take part in one. Think of a power struggle as a game of tug-of-war. As long as both sides are holding the rope and pulling, there is going to be a struggle until someone wins. But if one person drops the rope, the struggle is over. When your child wants to have a power struggle, simply avoid picking up the rope, or drop it as soon as you notice you are holding it!

Help for parents dealing with power struggles:

Even with the best of intentions, it's difficult to avoid giving in to a power struggle. After all, it's easier to give in than to focus on teaching your child a new way to behave. But, avoiding power struggles is important when helping kids learn how to become compromising adults. Try these tips to help you manage your child's power issues.

  • Try implementing a behavior chart or chore chart that will help you communicate your expectations to your child.
  • Reward your child for sticking to an established routine and for doing what he is supposed to do. Positive reinforcement will go a long way toward continuing that desired behavior.
  • Pick your battles and let some of the little, less important things go. While you want to be consistent with the rules that you have established for your child and home, you also don't want to constantly nitpick every little thing.
  • Try to keep your child informed as to what is going on and what is going to happen. Kids do much better when they get a warning, understand what is going to happen, and there is open communication.
  • Walk away or ignore your child if he tries to start a power struggle. Do not pick up the rope.
  • Set up a point and reward system to track your child's progress. Let him use his points to get rewards he likes which will increase his desire to improve his behavior.

The more consistent you are with your child, the better off everyone will be. Your child will know what the rules are, what to expect, and how far you can be pushed. Focus on being consistent and not picking up the rope to engage in a game of tug-of-war, and you will successfully end those power struggles!