When it comes to parenting, doing what’s best for your child often leads to a power struggle between the two of you. If arguing and throwing a tantrum gets children out of something once, they’re probably going to try it again and again. Don’t let it happen. Here are a few tips in regard to avoiding power struggles with your kids.
Give Them a Choice
Children often act out when they feel overpowered or powerless. Simply telling your kids to do something they don’t want to do will likely foster resistance. So, give them choices when it comes to getting things done. For example, if you clash with your child about finishing homework after school, offer two or three different times to actually get the homework done.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you are giving them all of the power in the situation. Make it clear to them that if they don’t hold up their end of the deal, they won’t be able to make the choice again in the future.
Avoid the Argument
Any time you get into an argument with your child, you give them the impression that they have the power to challenge what you say. This can lead to them thinking that acting defiant gets them what they want, which in turn causes them to misbehave more.
If your child tries to draw you into an argument over something, don’t give in. Instead, tell them that the discussion is over and leave the room. Walking away takes away all of their power to challenge you, since you’re not there to argue anymore.
Keep the Kids Involved
When your kids are involved in the process of setting up rules and routines, they will likely feel better about following these rules in the future. Instead of making these decisions purely on your own, discuss it with them and ask for their input. Keeping them involved in the decision making helps them feel less overpowered and less likely to act out. Not only that; their input may also give you insight when it comes to establishing new rules.
For example, if your kids often battle over who gets to sit in the front seat, this probably creates a power struggle between them. At this point, they’ll expect you to choose sides. However, if you work out a schedule together to determine when each one gets to sit up front, they’ll probably be more content waiting for their turn.
Work with Them
If you work at a task alongside of your kids, they’ll see it more as something that needs to get done and not just something that you arbitrarily decided to make them do. Your child may see telling them to do something as a challenge, but will be happy to lend a hand if they know their help is really needed.
If you ask your kids to do housework or clean their room, set a bit of time aside to help with the task. This will make the experience more fun and less bothersome for them. Just remember that you’re there to help, though – not work for them. Don’t let them use you being there as an excuse to do less than their fair share.
The best way to “win” these power struggles with your kids is to avoid them completely. By making your children feel more involved and letting them know that their contribution is appreciated, they will view following the rules as helping you, not losing a battle to you.