Parents Room

A Simple Trick for Avoiding Power Struggles with your Child

Avoid power struggles by telling your child what YOU are going to do rather than demanding, ordering or yelling at them about what THEY should and shouldn’t be doing.

Here’s how to invite a power struggle:

“Sam, pick up those blocks this instant!”

Sam, with his blossoming need for autonomy, naturally bristles at being ordered around. He takes a defiant stand by saying NO. You decide to force compliance by using some form of intimidation. He calls your bluff, and next thing you know you’ve locked horns like rutting rams … stuck together with no graceful exit for either of you. It’s what happens when a parent tries to control his child’s body and/or choices.

Thankfully, there is another way:

“Sam, it’s clean up time now. If there are any toys still left on the floor when this timer goes off in 5 minutes, I’ll be picking them up myself and putting them away on a high shelf in the garage for awhile.”

This statement leaves Sam with nothing to argue with, and there’s no need for you to attempt intimidation tactics to force compliance. You’re okay with whatever he chooses. In fact, if you’re like me, you kinda hope he chooses to let you do it, because you wouldn’t mind seeing a few less toys around the house!

You control your own body and choices. He controls his.

Power struggle averted.

Copyright 2006 Karen Alonge

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