...brush their teeth?
...eat their peas?
...to eat one single bite of the healthy dinner we slaved over?
...leave the toy they just can’t live without at the store?
...go to bed?
...get out of bed?
...put their toys away?
The list could go on and on and on.
When talking with parents, they often share that they feel so inadequate when it comes to getting their kids to do what they want them to do. A simple request quickly escalates into a battle and the default weapons often consist of threats, bribes, and yelling. The louder we yell or the more bribes we offer, the louder the protests from our child become and the end picture is not pretty. The simple request has turned into a 15, maybe 30 minute, sometimes all day battle and then the shame and the guilt sets in. We beat ourselves up for not being the "perfect" parents but feel at a loss as to what do differently next time.
So if the power struggle is an important part of development rather than trying to avoid it, we need new “weapons.” These new “weapons” engages our children and help build a solid foundation where they can grow and become confident in who they are and what they believe. Independence is important. I don't want my children to be dependent upon me for making healthy decisions. I want them to be able to make decisions, stand firm in their belief especially in the face of opposition or pressure, and communicate their needs and wants in a healthy way.
So what are my new "weapons?" Well I'd love to share them with you! Here is my top three that make the biggest difference in my house.
1. Speaking in the Positive – Kids hear what I say not what I want them to infer from what I’ve said. If I want them to walk I don’t say, “No running.” Instead I say, “Walk.” Sounds simple but it extremely effective. Pick a negative phrase you hear yourself saying often. Figure out a positive phrase to communicate the same idea, then be intentional about using the positive of that phrase and notice how your kids respond.
2. Offering Choices – Offering choices allows children to have an element of control as well as teaches them how to make decisions. When you offer choices, keep it between two specific choices. Here’s an example, “Would you like to wear your super fast running shoes or your new sandals?” Now the choice is not if they will put their shoes on but rather which shoes they will wear.
3. Fill the Tank – What I mean by this is make sure you are engaging in positive interactions with your children everyday. Taking a few minutes to play a game, read a story, engage in their make believe game will go along way in building a relationship. When my child is getting positive, loving attention from me, the battles just seem to be less.
Above are some basic thoughts on different “weapons” for embracing the power struggles that come as our children grow in their knowledge of self. I know how they play out in my house but how they play out in your house is going to look different. We are all different people created with different gifts and strengths that enable us to be the best parents for our kids. As a Parent Coach, I work with parents to help design personal action steps based on your family's needs and strengths. If you are pulling your hair out or simply recognizing that how you are parenting right now is not in alignment with how you want to parent, I would love to talk with you. Send me an e-mail or head to my scheduling page to set-up a free consultation to find out how Parent Coaching can help you build the foundation for a life that thrives.