One of the biggest traps that many parents fall into with their kids is the power struggle. You want them to do something and they flat out refuse. You end up staring at each other in silence or start yelling at the top of your lungs. You’re at an impasse with your child. Both of you are angry and frustrated.
It leaves the parent asking…
“Why won’t he just listen to me?” “Why do I have to yell to get her attention?” “Why won’t he just do what I ask him to do?”
It can be oh so frustrating!
What if I told you that it didn’t have to be that way, and that with a few simple adjustments, you could avoid the power struggles with your kids?
Over the next three weeks, I’m going to share with you some tips on how to avoid power struggles, and how to get your kids to cooperate more. It is possible. It might take an adjustment in thinking, and practice, but it is possible.
First of all remember this…
The only person in this world that you can control, is yourself. You can not MAKE your child do anything. It must be their choice.
Everyone in this world wants some power and control over their own lives. Have you ever said “I feel like my life is so out of control”? We feel stressed and anxious when we are out of control.
Just like us, children don’t like feeling out of control. They like to have a say, they like to make decisions about their lives. They want some power. When they don’t get power, they will fight for it. This is when power struggles happen.
When you give a child choices, you give them a sense of power. When you give a child a few choices that you are ok with, then they are more likely to comply with your request. They feel good about feeling in control and you feel good because your child is doing what you want them to. It’s a win win.
There are 4 basic types of choices:
- Concrete Choices: “Do you want apple juice or milk for dinner?”
- Playful Choices: “Do you want to run up the stairs to bed or do you want a piggy back ride?”
- Choices with Incentives: “If you choose to clean your toys quickly, than you can have some play time on the tablet.”
- Choices with Consequences: “You can choose to brush your teeth, or I can brush them for you.”
Here are a few things to consider when using choices with kids.
Make sure that you are ok with all the choices you give. If you ask your child to either put on his shoes at the park or go home. Be ok with going home. Then follow through!
Use choices All Day Long! All day…give hundreds and hundreds of choices.Each time you give your child a choice, you are giving them power. The more power the feel, the less they will use force to get power.
When you use an abundance of choices with your kids, you’ll find that they will be more likely to comply with your requests. When kids feel in control of their lives, because of all the choices you give them, they won’t need to fight back to gain control during those times when you can’t give a choice.
Now, there may be times when a child refuses to make a choice. What do you do then?
Give him a warning that you will make the choice for him. If he still refuses, you make the choice and follow through with that choice.
What if a child keeps asking for something that’s not one of your choices?
Be a broken record. Tell him his two choices over and over again and don’t give in. If a child really won’t make a choice, then make it for them…after you’ve given him a warning.
Both of these situations are really good indicators that a child needs more control over their life. So, if you are constantly having to make choices for your kids, then make sure that you give more choices throughout the day…even on stuff that doesn’t really matter.
Try giving lots and lots of choices this week, and just see what happens. I bet you’ll notice a decrease in power struggles, more compliance in your children, and a happier family too.
Then, come back next week when I’ll give you my next tip to dealing with power struggles.
Do you already use choices? Let me know how it’s working for you and your kids.
More from this series:
- How to Avoid Power Struggles with Kids: Routines and Plans
- How to Avoid Power Struggles with Kids: Pick Your Battles
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