Does your kid enter into constant power struggles with you? Do you feel like your child is in charge rather than you? Parenting is a tough job and I applaud all parents everywhere.
So how do you avoid these power struggles? Let me let you in on a secret. There can be no argument when only one party argues. That’s right. YOU have the power to stop it before it starts. Allow me to share a funny story with you about my son.
We had been out for the evening. It was Friday night and the kids had been to youth group. We arrived home around 9pm. We had only been home for a couple of minutes when some neighbourhood kids knocked on the door. They asked if Kieren could come out and play in the park.
Now this was something I often did with my kids as the park is just out the back of our house. But I decided that my kids had already been out and it was time for them to stay at home. I didn’t want Kieren out in the park at night without an adult.
Kieren said to me, “Mum, can I please go out and play with my friends in the park?” After thinking it through for a few seconds, I replied, “No Kieren, you have already been out this evening. I want you to stay in now. It’s not safe for you to be in the park at night without an adult.” Notice that I gave him a reason for my answer. This can be a great tip as it provides the child with some understanding of your answer.
Kieren responded, “Please Mum, everyone else is going outside to play except me.” I decided to repeat my answer and said to him, “You are not going outside again tonight.” Then I walked away into another room of the house to do something. Note that I didn’t stick around. I had told him my answer.
Kieren was not to be deterred. He pouted. He stomped his feet like only a preteen can. He protested verbally. I heard him say out loud, “You can’t stop me. I’m going.” I ignored his pouting. I was busy doing something else. But I heard it. He made sure that I heard it. After five minutes or so of major protesting (and me ignoring him), he eventually stormed off to his bedroom and slammed the door very loudly.
I thought about my response for a few minutes. He was obviously very upset and it certainly was not the right time to deal with his behaviour. And this is key for parents – don’t try solving an issue when you have an upset child. If they are feeling emotional, that is just not the right time. Wait for a better time.
I waited until Kieren was asleep later that evening. I calmly found my screw driver and quietly unscrewed his bedroom door, taking it off the hinges. So when he awoke the next morning, his door was nowhere to be seen. I decided that it was a suitable consequence for slamming the bedroom door – it could disappear for a few days.
Kieren got his door back a few days later. I left it off long enough for him to think about the door slam and decide that it might be better not to do that again. It only ever happened once with him and he learned his lesson.
This was an attempted power struggle. In this instance I acted calmly without becoming emotionally involved. If we can distance ourselves from the emotion involved, we can avoid power struggles altogether. Try it and see and let me know how you go. Good luck!