Monday, May 14, 2012

Parents Tool Kit

Avoiding Power Struggles

This is the last week in the Parents Tool Kit series. I hope you've enjoyed reading about a variety of techniques you can use to help your kids learn to behave well, and to manage recurring misbehavior. If you're a new visitor and missed the series, each post has been linked to the topic title on the Discipline page.


Do you find yourself constantly arguing with your kids? Does it seem like one of your kids always wants to do things his/her way, being very uncooperative? Don't
worry, it's not unusual, quite common as a matter of fact.

Kids naturally want and need to have a certain amount of control over their lives. Each child may have a different way of expressing this need depending on their personality, gender, birth order, and the dynamics of your family. The trick is knowing how to give them the amount of power that is appropriate for their age, and not allowing them to control you.

Parents are in charge.
Subconsciously, children feel secure knowing that parents are in charge and are taking responsibility. At the same time, there is a growing need in children to exercise some independence and learn what they can do. Now throw a little excitement, desire and all sorts of other emotions into the mix and you have a set up for power struggles.

Parents need to be clear about 3 things: 1.) The behavior you expect in a variety of circumstances, 2.) That your child is capable of learning to behave well, and that 3.) you (the parent) are the teacher & role model. I highly recommend reading more books on parenting and discipline methods for a more in depth understanding of how to use the techniques I've outlined in this series.

Avoiding power struggles requires 3 things: 1.) Be prepared (with tools) for misbehavior, don't let it catch you off guard. 2.) Remember that every moment is a teachable moment when the child can learn what they need to learn to grow up well. 3.) Keep your cool by knowing your own emotional buttons, and not letting your kids get to them. It's hard for kids to learn to control themselves if their parents are always losing control, or giving confusing and mixed messages.

Giving Choices
Last week I mentioned that giving age appropriate limited choices is a great way to get cooperation. This is one of the best tools for avoiding power struggles because it allows your child to have some decision making power in their life. However, you control the choices you give them, so be wise.

Stubborn and Persistent Children
Some children will just refuse to see things your way, like a donkey that refuses to move for his master. For this type of child you need to be very clever and learn to trick them into thinking it (your desired behavior) is their own idea. You may need to use reverse psychology at times, help them set up their own goals, and even use peer pressure to your advantage.

Persistent children can really wear you down. They will nag, nag, nag until they get what they want. They seem to not be able to take "no" for an answer and will try a variety of tactics to win you to their side. This child can be the worst button pusher when they're young, but persistence will take them a long way in life.

Try telling the persistent child that you need time to think about what they are asking or trying to get from you. Make it a general rule that you need advance warning and can not be expected to immediately grant wishes or respond to requests. Make sure they know that they are not allowed to keep bugging you about the issue. After you've had time to think about the request or situation, respond reasonably and fairly using your best judgment. This helps the child learn that patience will bring a better response from you than their nagging and whining.

One of the best books I've read to learn to manage stubborn and persistent children, and avoid power struggles, is called The Difficult Child. Parenting is not easy and we can use all the help we can get, so when you feel a little discouraged with your kids behavior, look for a good book on parenting methods and discipline.

Remember, the family is the school of love! Please feel free to leave your comments and come visit again soon.

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