Power struggles create distance and hostility instead of closeness and trust. Distance and hostility create resentment, resistance, rebellion (or compliance with lowered self-esteem). Closeness and trust create a safe learning environment. You have a positive influence only in an atmosphere of closeness and trust where there is no fear of blame, shame or pain.
IT TAKES TWO TO CREATE A POWER STRUGGLE.
I have never seen a power drunk child without a power drunk adult real close by. Adults need to remove themselves from the power struggle without winning or giving in. Create a win/win environment. HOW? The following suggestions teach children important life skills including self-discipline, responsibility, cooperation and problem-solving skills — instead of “approval junkie” compliance or rebellion.
- Decide what you will do. I will read a story after teeth are brushed. I will cook only in a clean kitchen. I will drive only when seat belts are buckled. (I will pull over to the side of the road when children are fighting.)
- Follow Through The key to this one and all of the following is KINDNESS AND FIRMNESS AT THE SAME TIME. (Pull over to the side of the road without saying a word. Children learn more from kind and firm actions than from words.)
- Positive Time Out. Create a “nurturing” (not punitive) time out area with your child.
- Distraction for Young Children and lots of supervision. Punishment decreases brain development. Children are often punished for doing what they are developmentally programmed to do — explore. (Please read Positive Discipline for Preschoolers.)
- Get children involved in the creation of routines (morning, chores, bedtime). Then the routine chart becomes the boss