An age-old problem that every parent faces at some point in their child’s life is dealing with power struggles.
You ask your child to do something, they refuse, and before you know it the situation escalates.
When children say ‘no’ it’s easy to rise to the bait and turn even a minor challenge into a major power struggle – but that ends up being miserable for everyone.
Instead, there are steps you can take to prevent or defuse a conflict.
Make sure that what you’re asking of your child is reasonable. Have you asked them to do something that is beyond their capabilities? Have you given them an unrealistic time frame?
Forewarn your child
A lot of grumbling can be prevented if you give children a five or 10-minute notice that they need to finish what they’re doing so they can put their toys away, get ready for bed or whatever the task at
Acknowledge your child’s feelings
When children grumble they often just want to be heard. So simply say something like: “Yeah, I know doing dishes isn’t much fun. But it will feel good when they’re all done and you can go and play”.
As much as possible, offer your child choices. For example, you can’t waver from the expectation that your children will have to complete homework but you can offer choices as to exactly when and where they do the work.
If your child refuses to do what you’ve asked, calmly state what the consequence will be if they don’t comply. Give them reasonable time to do as you’ve asked.
Sometimes when children are resistant, too often parents move in closer and increase the volume and intensity of demands.
Then our child matches that intensity by increasing resistance. By stepping back instead, we allow our child to save face and ‘choose’ to cooperate.
If your child still doesn’t do as you ask, impose the consequence swiftly and matter-of-factly. If they complain, remove your attention and walk away.
You are the adult and you are choosing not to engage in the power struggle. Shouting or bombarding a child with angry words does no good at this point. He or she needs to see that you meant what you said.
Once the consequence has been imposed, move on without bearing a grudge. It’s important to remember to ‘catch your children being good’. Let them know you appreciate it when they follow directions, especially when they do so cheerfully. It’s important to understand that all children are uncooperative at times.
And at certain ages, especially during the toddler period and early adolescence, resistance and defiance are especially common as kids struggle to prove their independence.