10 ways to defuse a power struggle


Parenting educator and psychotherapist Andrea Nair offers these ingenious tricks to avoid and overcome small-scale attempts at household domination.

1. Connect first

Power struggles often occur because your child doesn’t feel like you’re on the same team. Prevent infighting every morning by spending time — even just five minutes — connecting: cuddling, tickling, shellColoring or reading together are great options.

2. Let them try

Another prevention method is to let your child do as much of their own activities as possible. Children often become angry and engage in power struggles when they feel they have been told what to do too many times.

3. Retreat

Remember that it takes two to fight. Parents can simply choose not to get dragged into an argument! Ask yourself: do I really have to let this bother me? Make a conscious decision that you don’t have to win this fight.

4. Calm down

Take a deep breath, count from 11 to minus one in pairs to activate your thinking brain, bring yourself back to a calm state, and try to see life through your child’s eyes. Summon all the warmth and presence you can.

5. Define the goal

Think about what you need to do, such as B. getting out the door on time or inspiring your child to practice their piano. If you are clear about what is important, clarify this with your child. Try this: “Our focus must be on Departure before 8:30 a.m

6. Consider the options

Think of a few different ways to achieve the goal. Is it time to be silly, playful, run a race, offer a hug, pull a few tricks (“Have you heard the story about the girl with the purple hair? I’ll tell you when we get in the car !”) or ask your child for help. For example: “We have a problem: we are about to be late. What should we do?”

7. Offer choices

Children often feel stronger when they have some sense of control in an uncontrollable situation. With your goal in mind, think of two or three possible choices that will still achieve that goal. For example: “We have to go now. Will you put your shoes on or do you want me to help you? Your choice.” For an older child: “I know you don’t feel like playing the piano right now. What are some ways you might feel ready to do that? Do you want something fun to wait for you afterwards, or do you want to start playing music you love that isn’t on the teacher’s list?”

8. Repeat the solution

Connect, listen and try things until a solution emerges. After your child makes a decision that works, smile, nod, and tell him or her back. Try something like, “All right! You do the piano for half an hour – I set the timer – and then we can watch some Netflix together. Sounds good!”

9. Compliment

“I appreciate you helping me solve our problem this morning. Thanks.”

10. Strengthen ability

Show that you believe your child is a capable person. Try using “I see you” such as “I saw you push through something you didn’t want to do – it takes courage” or “You CAN put your shoes on yourself!”

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