9 Tools To Guide Your Child Through A Power Struggle

PERSIST: 1.To be repetitious, insistent, or tenacious. 2. To hold firmly steadfastly to a purpose, state, or undertaking, despite obstacles, warnings or setbacks.

PERSISTENT: 1.The act of persisting. 2. The quality of being persistent; perseverance; tenacity

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The first step when dealing with the power struggle is to get some space. Disconnect and take a breath so you can come up with some positive redirections. Here are eight suggestions.

  1. Use loving guidance: Use loving guidance 
    • Have an open and loving face.
    • Give the child direct eye contact.
    • Listen more than you talk.
    • Guide the child through the process of managing their big emotions.
  2. Find useful ways to make your child feel powerful: for example, you could make the child the seat belt monitor or have them push and load the child grocery carts. Giving children power in some areas makes them less likely to try and exert control in other areas.
  3. Teach children to say no respectfully: “No mom I don’t want to do the dishes but I will be willing to clean the family room.” or “I can’t do the dishes right now because I promised my friend I would come over right after dinner but I will do them before I go to bed tonight.” Allowing them to negotiate as well as make and keep commitments will make your house a much more peaceful place.
  4. Give children choices: For example, “Do you want to get in the car seat by yourself or do you want mom to help you?” If the child does not comply the next choice is an action you can take, such as, “We have to leave so if you don’t want to make the choice, I can make it for you and put you in your seat.”
  5. Do the unexpected: This is a fun way to break the power struggle. One mom who was in a power struggle to get her teenage daughter to vacuum her room taped a note to the vacuum “feed me I eat dust” and the daughter vacuumed her room upon returning from school.
  6. Pick your battles: Is this really something worth struggling over or could you let go of your position? Don’t major in the minors!
  7. Use signals: When you’re having a recurrent power struggle with a child have them come up with a signal you can use to remind each other of your agreement. Maybe a keyword or phrase that can be used in the moment to give you both the opportunity to take a step back and remember what you previously agreed to.
  8. Create win-win solutions: This is NOT a compromise, it is a solution both parties are happy with and feel their wants and needs have been met. “That works well for you but I would like to win too, so how can we work it out so we both can feel like we’ve won?”
  9. Name and validate: More than anything, your child wants to feel seen, heard and understood. The best way to accomplish this is by recognizing and validating their feelings in the moment. When they know you understand what they are feeling, they’ll be much more likely to stop and listen to what you have to say. Here are two examples of what this can look like:
    • “You look sad…” “I can tell you really want that toy right now and I know it is really hard to wait to get something.”
    • “You seem angry…” “You really want to stay outside right now and play with your friends.” or “I can tell you don’t want to come inside.”

Remember to come from your heart and really empathize with the child. Try to really see the child’s dilemma and listen to what they’re saying.

If you, the parent or caregiver, are struggling with your own big emotions or need support in guiding your child, call the experts at The Center for Family Unity at 619-884-0601 TODAY.

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