Have you ever had your kids decide that disobeying a rule or command is their number one goal in life? Or perhaps one of your kids has decided life is “opposite day” because he or she is determined to do the exact opposite of what you expect him or her to do? Power struggles are real in many homes. They can be exhausting and damage parent child relationships.
It doesn’t have to be that way. Kids who regularly engage in power struggles often do so because they have worked in the past. Let’s be honest, they often want what they want much worse than we want them to obey. When parents give into a power struggle, they will usually set the stage for many future power struggles.
One of the top tactics kids unknowingly use in a power struggle is to get you to be emotional. The minute you get upset, they know they have won. Or at least, you have lost…because no one actually wins in a power struggle that escalates. For the technique below to work really well, you absolutely must control your emotions. If it helps, think of yourself as a robot. You can’t get upset. You aren’t programmed to get loud or yell. You are calm, cool and collected – all of the time.
If you can maintain that demeanor, you are half way there. Now, all you have to do is repeat the rule that applies to the situation. ”Bedtime is nine o’clock.” ”We obey our parents in this house.” ”We are kind to others in this family.” There is no need to repeat what you have asked them to do. They haven’t forgotten it. They are well aware of what you have asked them to do, because the power struggle is about them not doing whatever it is.
At first, you will get power struggle push back of all sorts. They will continue to be verbally defiant. Do not get upset or respond to anything they are saying. More slowly and more quietly – without emotion (but firmly) – state the rule again. “We….obey…our….parents…in… this…house….” Every time they try to respond in some power struggle fashion, repeat the rule. Each time using no emotion and stating it slower and a little quieter.
Don’t forget the key to managing the behavior of children is consistency. Even if this technique works once, it does not mean a child addicted to power struggles will stop engaging in them. If you use this technique every single time, however, they should begin to diminish in frequency and eventually disappear.
Don’t forget. Relationship is key. The stronger your relationship is outside of the power struggle, the less need the child feels to create the friction a power struggle creates. Strengthening your relationship will also diminish power struggles.
No one wins in a power struggle. The winner might believe there is a victory, but power struggles become addictive and will eventually destroy every relationship the child has. Breaking the habit, will improve their relationships with you and with others in the future.