How To Avoid Power Struggles with
Your Children - By James P. Krehbiel
within your parenting career, you'll face a power-struggle with your child. If you don’t,
you may be too intimidating, your child may be rather compliant, or you have mastered the art of managing conflict.
occur due to a variety of factors, but invariably make a parent feel fatigued, frustrated & helpless.
Power-struggles emerge as a conflict over demands, wants & needs. Parents will attempt to get their child to manifest certain desired behaviors while the child may choose to react to the request in a negative manner.
various techniques for “testing” their parent’s patience. They may cry, have temper tantrums, manipulate, avoid contact, become aggressive & refuse to comply with expectations.
Parents may employ
various methods in trying to hold their children accountable regarding their requests. They use control, lecturing, pressure,
guilt, bribery, sulking, or aggressive behavior as strategies to get what they want from their children. None of these methods
generally work very effectively.
Parents who seek
counseling will indicate that they've tried everything in their arsenal in an attempt to get appropriate behavior displayed
by their children.
may occur over issues such as schooling, household chores & a child’s desire for more freedom, or a child merely wanting his own way.
can be minimized if parents will change their tactics with their children. This process can be accomplished if a parent is
open to new ways of managing problems:
Fight the urge
to engage & merely lay out the consequences for appropriate or inappropriate behavior.
Major in the majors.
Don’t “lock horns” over issues of little consequence. If you do, the little issues will
become major storms.
teaching, role-modeling & coaching work better than power as a means of managing your children.
or entertain temper tantrums. Distance yourself & isolate your child (time-out) until she is ready to respond rationally.
Don’t get “hooked”
by your child’s behavior. Step back, take a deep breath, disengage & set logical consequences
appropriate to the offense.
Consequences for children should primarily be positive providing a preventative means of avoiding the potential for power-struggles.
Unreasonable consequences imparted to a child while a parent is angry will serve to reinforce the power-struggle.
By all means, avoid power-struggles over schooling. Power-struggles over a child’s
education are number one on the list.
Rather than pontificate
with children about grades, capabilities & school failure, ask them to explore & make value judgments about their
On occasion, monitor
their performance, but fight the urge to continuously confront them about their failures. Set positive consequences to encourage
Emphasize the quality
of their work (process) rather than grades (outcome).
Utilize outside resources, if necessary, such as tutors, parent advocates & counseling services rather than confronting
educational issues yourself.
Maintain a sense of involvement
with your child that isn't conditional upon school success. Ironically, it may break the power-struggle
& generally lead a child to change his perspective about schooling.
Remember, you're the adult. Kids will always try
to test the limits.
Make sure that your logical consequences that are
based on negative behavior are reasonable. Consequences are designed to be used until improved behavior is observable.
Always explore problems rather
than confront them aggressively. Have your children make value judgments about their behavior rather than you making judgments
on their behalf.