Avoiding Power Struggles with Your Kids

June 26, 2013
Four easy ways you can empower your children while staying in charge, and keep peace in the family.
Today’s guest post is from NannyJobs.net, part of the largest network of online care sites in the U.S. You can find a number of interesting and helpful articles there for parents and childcare providers alike.

Avoiding Power Struggles with Your Kids
Guest post from NannyJobs.net

Angry girl (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

It seems like power struggles and raising kids go hand and hand with one another. As much as parents try to stay in control over what’s happening with their kids, the infamous “NO!” is bound to be heard more frequently than any parent would like. Here are some tips on how to avoid these power struggles and enjoy more harmony with your child.

Give lots and lots of acceptable choices. Power struggles often start because kids feel out of control. As kids get older, they increasingly feel the need for autonomy and independence. They want it, they need it, but they’re not sure how to go about getting it. Power struggles are often the result of kids trying to exert their power at the wrong time or in the wrong way. An easy way to avoid this is to give your child lots of choices throughout the day. This doesn’t mean asking an open-ended question and hoping your child will make the right choice. That’s just asking for trouble. It’s not a good idea to ask “Would you like to wear your coat to school today?” when it’s 30 degrees and snowing outside. You know you won’t let him go to school without a coat. Instead, ask “Would you like to wear your down coat or your fleece coat today?” You know you’ll be happy with either of those choices, and this gives your child some real decision-making power while allowing you to stay in charge of the big picture. It’s a win-win situation.

Develop and live by routines. Lots of power struggles can be avoided by simply avoiding the question at the center of the struggle. Those questions often come up around routines. Sit down with your child and develop routines around the issues that cause the most problems. That may be the before school, homework or bedtime routine. By agreeing on how something will be handled ahead of time, you can avoid getting into a back and forth about what you want and what your child wants. The routine is in charge. When your child asks if he can get dressed after breakfast, you simply ask what the routine says. He may not like it, but he’s much less likely to fight over it because it’s something he’s already agreed to. It’s essential that you engage children in the decision-making process when you’re coming up with routines. Simply stating what you feel should happen and imposing it on your child won’t help lessen power struggles. Your child has to have real input into the process and buy into the final result. Once you’ve decided on a routine, take some time and create a chart that outlines it step by step. Using pictures is a great way for pre-reading children to get on board.

Don’t take it personally. This might be the hardest thing to do because it feels so personal. When your child ignores you, tells you no or does the complete opposite of what you ask, it feels like he’s directly defying your authority. This behavior pushes all kinds of buttons. But when children do those things, it can mean a lot of different things. Often it’s developmentally appropriate, meaning it’s a stage that your child is going through because of his age, not because of any feelings towards you. Or it might be a habit. It might be how you and he have resolved problems for a long time and he doesn’t know how to do it differently. Or he may still be learning how to do things differently. Every child master tasks at different stages and using different, more effective tools for getting what he wants may not be something he’s mastered yet. So while there may be lots of reasons your child is doing what he’s doing, it’s usually more about him than you.

Say no to getting involved. It takes two people to be involved in a power struggle. Your child can’t do it alone. Once you’ve started taking other steps to empower your child, stop engaging in the power struggle with him. Offer him choices and stick with those. Develop routines together and follow them throughout the day. When you refuse to engage with your child, the power struggle no longer is a tool that helps him get what he wants or needs, so he’ll turn to the more productive tools you’ve offered. Don’t be surprised if disengaging is hard for you. This tug of war often becomes a habit for both kids and parents and can be hard to break.

 Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Get Your Child to Cooperate

April 15, 2013
These parenting tips are sure to increase cooperation and help make family time more peaceful.


Today’s guest post is by Marcia Hall from the GoNannies blog, a source of really helpful articles about childcare. Both childcare providers and parents can learn a thing or two from Ms Hall, a Certified Professional Nanny and an ACPI Certified Coach for Families.


How to Get Your Children to Cooperate
By Marcia Hall, GoNannies.com

SiblingsFrom your toddler touching everything in sight to your teenager ignoring everything you tell her, children who don’t cooperate can be frustrating. More than that, they can make you go crazy. Here are a few simple rules to follow to increase the amount of cooperation you get from your child.

Help map out the day as best you can for your child. Often, parents have an idea of what the day will be like, but fail to communicate those plans to their child. When possible, help her envision your day by communicating it with her either that morning or the night before. Younger children will need this to be repeated, so it can help to recap it a few times. It is true that plans might change, but changes will be easier if she knew what the plan was in the first place.

Give warnings when time is coming close for transitions to take place. Children tend to live entirely in the present, so they are usually completely engrossed in the activity they are involved in at any given moment. This is obvious for younger children, but is also true of older children. By giving your child warnings when you need to leave in 10 minutes, your child can begin to finish with what she has started. Timers can be a big help for these warnings for both you and your child.  A timer can not only keep you on track to follow through with the time you allotted, but will also give your child an auditory clue to listen for.

Provide your child with choices so that she feels in control of the situation to some degree. It is very difficult for your child to be at the mercy of the adults in her life.  Often times, the errands or activities she is being forced to participate in are not activities she would choose to do. You can ease this frustration by making small parts of the day her choice.  Small children do well with two or three choices. “Do you want to wear the blue boots, the red shoes or the purple clogs?” Older children can help you decide where you will go first or what music you will listen to along the way. Simple choices can make the difference between a cranky child who drags her feet and a cooperative child who does what is asked of her.  Giving teens the choice can relieve some of the pressure too. “The garbage needs to go out before 6AM tomorrow. Do you want to do it before you go to bed or early in the morning” You may know the most common sense option is to do it now and get it over with. But giving your child the option can ease the tension often felt by parents and teens.

Create excitement for the thing you are trying to get your child to cooperate in doing. You might be so caught up in completing your to-do list that you forget to enjoy the process. You are motivated to get the tasks complete because you can see the outcome.  Your child could not care less about that outcome, she just wants to have fun. So if you want her to cooperate with you, you will need to bring a little fun to the to-do list.  If you are running errands, build a little fun break into every other stop. If you are in the car for a long time, find some games to play, such as I-Spy or 20 questions. Help keep her mind going and you will find she is much more compliant.

Make sure all her physical needs are met before asking her to do something you know she will be resistant about. Is your child hungry, thirsty, tired, overstimulated, cold/hot or sick?  It is hard for adults to operate when they have these needs. Your child will be understandably cranky when she needs food or has simply had too much. Take a break and don’t expect your child to do too much.

Make sure your child has enough time for play in her day.  Parents today have a tendency to overschedule their children, filling their time with sports, art and other activities.  The thought is that an active mind is a healthy mind. To a degree, this is true.  However, if the mind of a child is not given the opportunity to think creatively and freely, it will begin to shut down. This is when children become easily agitated, inflexible and unsatisfied. To ensure that you have a more cooperative and helpful child, make sure that your child is given enough time for free play both with you and by herself.

Parents dream of a child who gets her shoes on the first time they ask or takes the garbage out when it needs to go out. Though it may not be possible for your child to do this with 100% accuracy, it is possible to improve her cooperation level.

 Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons


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