Do you ever go to bed at night feeling like you just screamed at your child all day? Do you feel like you are overly frustrated with the day, or feel like you are a bad parent because all you said was no all day long? Do you ever say to yourself, I have tried everything and just don’t know what else to do, how can I get my child to understand what I am asking of him or her? Why aren’t they listening? Did I just repeat myself like 50 times? Am I going crazy?!?!
Power Struggles can get the best of us as parents. We love our children dearly and when we ask or tell them to do things it’s because we have their best interest at heart. A power struggle starts when our children are trying to tell us that they are figuring out what independence is and how good it feels to them. It takes root because the moments they choose to tell us about their independence are usually situations where we are in a big hurry or trying to
multi-task or when it just makes sense to do it the way we tell them, right!!!!!!
So what do you do as parents when you find yourself locked in a power struggle and you feel like all you’ve done is yell all day?
• First, take a deep breath. Talk with friends, spouse or partner about how you feel.
• Second, remember what’s most important is the relationship and the emotional bond between you and your child. If you feel like you have been in a long term power struggle with your child take a time out and just play or create some sort of special time between you and him or her.
• Third, start thinking about what you want to do when the next power struggle occurs. Create a plan for yourself but also create a plan and offer choices with your child. For example, getting to school on time, plan with your child ways to get to school on time on the weekend. Make sure the plan is consistent and clear. Sunday night review the plan and then Monday morning make sure you follow your part of the plan.
• Fourth, keep your emotions out of it. The minute your emotions are heightened a power struggle occurs.
• Lastly, “arm” yourself with tools. Asking for help, reading, and going to a parenting class will help you feel better about your parenting.
Remember that the first few times you start to change things up your child is going to push some boundaries to see what he or she can get away with and where the new boundaries are. Stick with the plan and leave your emotions out of it. After a few weeks of sticking with the plan reevaluate to see how things are going. Remember there is no one right book or way to parent, it’s what works best for you and your family. It’s hard work at times but the rewards and benefits are wonderful and irreplaceable.
There is a book called “Unplugging Power Struggles” by Dr. Jan Faull which I highly recommend. In the book she clearly defines choices you have as a parent when a power struggle erupts and how to move out of a power struggle and how to honor the relationship with your child.