Who’s the boss in your home? If there are constant power struggles between you and your children, you need to make some adjustments to have a happy home. Parenting is a challenge even on good days, but if you let your kids run over you just one time, it will be a repeated pattern.
Children will test every boundary you set. If you give them an inch, they will take ten miles. It’s their very nature that makes them so curious and rebellious.
According to an article by Penn State University, studies show that children show their autonomy even in infancy. According to the report, kids act on their thoughts, and they crave independence even as early as two years of age. As a parent, you want to empower and not overpower them, making for better relationships.
While you may not think much of the power struggles when they’re toddlers, the tiny tot that must have their way turns into the teenager who can get into serious trouble. If you want to get a handle on your kids and raise a well-adjusted individual, you need to learn how to show authority and not let them walk over you.
Seven Actionable Ways to End Those Inevitable Parent-Child Power Struggles
You want to be a good parent and give your kids all the love and things they desire. However, the more you give a child, the more spoiled they become. Children need to learn the value of hard work and earning things, but there’s a right way to handle this task.
An indulgent parent will undoubtedly have power struggles, especially if the child feels that they run the show. If you’re tired of the bitter battles between you and your kids, then here are seven proven ways that can help you end the struggle in your home.
1. Pick Your Battles if You Anticipate Power Struggles
You’ve probably had many people tell you that you need to pick your battles, but it’s true. You can’t be on your child’s back 24×7 about every minor infraction. No, they shouldn’t have had an extra helping of cake for dessert, but it’s not that big of an offense in the grand scheme of things.
If you’re constantly on their case about every little thing, you will destroy their happiness. You want children to know that you’re in control but not micromanage every step of their life. They will make mistakes, but you must choose the most significant ones to reprimand.
You don’t want your kids to think of you as the warden and feel like they live in prison. Remember, the more you ride their case, the more a power struggle will exist.
When your children are fixated on something and won’t let it go, it’s easy for you to get into a showdown with them. Take, for instance, the toddler taking toys from their sibling. If you do nothing and allow this situation to continue, they’re going to get into an argument where one or both will scream, cry, throw a fit, and make your headache worse.
However, you can make a smooth transition if you redirect their attention from the toy they want to something else. The same tactic is used in people of all ages for conflict resolution. People tend to get hung up on the small details, and they miss the big picture.
Gentle reminders and a simple redirection can work wonders to resolve conflict.
3. Speak Less and Use More Friendly Actions
Children don’t respond well to nagging. How often do you tell them repeatedly to take out the trash, make their bed, or do the dishes? The problem is that your children don’t feel the urgencies in these tasks as you do.
In their mind, they think that the garbage isn’t going to be collected until 7 am, so why are you nagging them about it at 5 pm. This kind of situation causes a power struggle as the two of you have different urgencies about the matter.
Rather than continuously repeating yourself and getting into a verbal altercation, grab the bag of trash and sit it next to your kid. By doing this action, you’re not saying a word, but you’re letting your child know that this needs to be done. If they don’t handle it right then, it will constantly remind them until it’s done.
4. Use The Win-Win Mentality to Stop Power Struggles in Their Tracks
Raising kids today isn’t like it was decades ago. The “It’s my way or the highway” mentality won’t work for most children. Should your child question one of the boundaries you’ve established, you might become quite defensive.
However, parenting requires you to keep up with the times. Today’s kids have access to information on the superhighway, and they can outsmart you at every turn. So, why not find a solution that works for everyone?
Take, for instance, Bella and her wardrobe. Her mom had strict rules that she should not wear sweatpants or leggings to school. Bella hated jeans and shirts, mostly because she felt uncomfortable and had a little extra weight in her midsection.
Every morning the school preparation was a nightmare because Bella and her mom had a power struggle over her attire. How could Bella’s mom handle this situation differently to avoid the morning arguments? She didn’t want her child to look unkempt for school, but putting her daughter into something she felt uncomfortable in caused her to see red.
To avoid drama and stressing your kids and you out, find a win-win for both parties. Some sweatpants are more stylish and dressier than others, so finding a pant that’s less restrictive is all Bella wanted, and her mom needed to listen to her.
5. Make Your Rules Goal-Oriented to Avoid Power Struggles
Another massive struggle from the cradle to graduation is bedtime. As your kid gets older, they want to stay up later. They feel they deserve it as it’s a rite of passage that comes with age.
However, it’s hard to get these kids up for school in the morning, so you want to insist on an earlier time. If your child wants a later bedtime, you need to discuss why you set the rules and your reservations. Then, it would help if you listened to their reasons why they feel it should be changed.
Together, you can set up a goal for extending this rule once specific criteria have been met. For instance, if your son wants to stay up to 10 pm as he’s now a teen, try the new bedtime out. If he can still get up and get to school on time without issue, grant the extension.
If it’s been nothing but drama after a week, then insist on the 9 pm time slot. The request for an extended bedtime is not out of the ordinary, and working together. You can come up with a solution to benefit both parties.
6. Use Positive Reinforcement
Kids from an early age like to be helpful. Remember when you were a young one playing with toy vacuums and brooms? They like to hear you tell them they’ve done an excellent job. As parents, you want things done right, and you would do it yourself to ensure it’s done to your standards.
The only problem is that you’re not empowering them to do the task yourself. Sure, you may need to rewash the dishes later, but you’re teaching them. When you give your kids the rein on things, you’re telling them you trust them, which means the world to their esteem.
Don’t micromanage each dish they wash, and keep telling them they’ve missed a spot. Instead, you need to tell them how proud you are and what a good job they’re doing. You can make doing the dishes a pleasurable experience for them.
Turn on some music and dance around with the sponge in hand. Even cleaning out their closet can be a reason to walk down memory lane. You can control how they view these tasks if you use your creativity.
Using positivity to reinforce chores and such will make it less of a struggle when they’re older and must do these mundane tasks.
7. Offer Choices to Minimize Power Struggles
Tommy hates cleaning the bathrooms, but he loves to fold laundry. Why not give him other options rather than fighting with him to do a task that he can’t stand? You’re going to have the same arguments each time you ask him to do something he won’t like, but you can avoid this by offering options.
As adults, you loathe to do things, so you pass them off to your kids or partner. Understand that your children have the same feelings about some things. When you offer them choices, you give them some input in the decision-making process, making them feel empowered and not overrun.
Final Thoughts on Ways to End Power Struggles with Your Children
According to an article on Positive Parenting, children who feel powerful in any situation will often seek revenge. The rebellious child is the one that often feels backed into a corner and without options. Your home doesn’t have to be a communist community where you decide all the rules without their input.
Instead, you can all work together as a team to find the best way to handle things. These little people you gave birth to have strong wills, and if you try to micromanage them and be a helicopter parent, you can ensure a power struggle will ensue. However, when you listen to them, value their opinion, and strive to find what works for everyone, you can have happiness in your home and build great relationships.