Do you have a child that some might describe as strong-willed, determined, stubborn? We all know someone like that I’m sure. Of course I always encourage parents to reframe their thinking towards resilient, problem-solver, stedfast, hard-working, assertive, leader, independent, courageous, or loyal. Looking at the positive traits of a strong-willed child (or adult) helps us to side step the power struggles.
No one wins when we get into a power struggle, especially with our kids. As parents we want to ensure that our children do the right thing, learn the lesson, don’t get away with whatever it is they are doing wrong. But engaging in the fight doesn’t teach them anything positive that will actually benefit them in the long run.
Here are some tips to help avoid the power struggle
Give your child choice
Rather than giving orders try to offer choices. Unlimited options can be overwhelming, so you may want to offer a few limited selections to choose from.
Let them take charge
Similar to choices, your child may want to have more control over their life, and decisions. Depending on the situation, you could ask your child what they need to do to be successful. For example “what do you need to do to get ready for bed?”
Look for win-win solutions
Often there are creative solutions that everyone can be happy with. You may need to compromise, or lower your preferred standards, but negotiation and problem solving are skills we are trying to teach our kids.
Learn through experience
Some children learn best through experience. They may fail, or get hurt, but unless the situation is actually dangerous, maybe let go a little. Would it be so bad to step back and let them try to cook dinner? There is always sandwiches or cereal as a back-up if the food isn’t great.
Rules and routines
Here you can step back and not always be the bad guy. Remind your children of the family rules you all agreed on (even point to the paper on the fridge like it’s the “rules fault”). Routines also help keep the flow going during tricky transitions like bed or mornings.
This has already been mentioned, but it is a good reminder to not force, or control a child who is prone to power struggles and strong will. Take a breath and remind yourself that you aren’t in this relationship to win battles.
Empathy, listening, seeing their point of view
Listen first is always a good mantra to remember. Find out their point of view, what are they really wanting, needing or feeling in this moment? You can offer empathy while still maintaining healthy limits r boundaries. The point here is to demonstrate and model the same respect that you would want to receive.
Most of parenting involves connection, relationships and love over correction. Focus on love and the power struggle may just melt away.
What is one thing that resonated you most from these ideas? Try focusing on just one thing this week and let me know how it goes. If you are really struggling, or know a friend who is, contact me today so we can work together to find more peace in your home.
P.S. I know that power struggles and parenting a strong-willed child comes with a lot of emotions, big feelings and meltdowns. Check out these emotion coaching courses designed specifically to help you and your family with coping skills, communication and emotions. https://joyfulmudpuddles.vipmembervault.com/