(Photo compliment of Morguefile.com)
“You can’t make me!”
“I hate you!”
“I don’t want to.”
“I’m too tired right now.”
Children are known for throwing parents into heated power struggles. They don’t want to get dressed in the morning. They don’t want to eat their vegetables. They seem to sabotage schedules. First, it’s important for parents to know why power struggles happen. What causes them? Check out this post from Deb at Positive Parenting.
What can parents do?
Spend ten minutes a day one-on-one with her or him and LISTEN. This might sound simple, but when we get busy, we take for granted that our child knows we love him, and we think that’s enough, but often it isn’t. Taking a deliberate step toward focusing on your child and LISTENING can help turn things around on the front end.
- Be Intentional. Make an intentional HABIT of spending time with your child. If you do it at the same time every day you’ll have more success with making it a habit. Warning: Don’t do it only when the child is acting out. Spend time with them before their behavior takes a turn for the worse.
- Give undivided attention. During your one-on-one time, stop multi-tasking and face your child like he or she is a colleague or friend. Give him your undivided attention. Don’t look at your phone, your computer, the meal you’re preparing, or your calendar.
- Validate his interests. Say things like, “Tell me more. What happened next. What did you say? How does that work?” Let your child teach you something. Play dumb even if you know the answer.
- Be present. Listen to what he’s not saying. Don’t share your opinion or think about what you’re going to say next. Show the child that you’re genuinely interested in what he has to say.
- Compliment the good. Notice positive behavior and mention that you’re aware of it, that you’re proud of the child’s effort.
- Care about them. Just like adults, children want to know you care. They want to know you’re interested in what they have to say. You might think this is silly because your children should know this, but when we get busy, we send a different message. If we ‘practice’ listening to our children, we’ll be more effective with our friends and co-workers.
Power struggles happen because children want to feel significant. They want to know that they matter–just like adults. If we take the time to spend ten quality minutes (or more) with our children every day and listen to them, we’ll nip the bad behavior on the front end of our day and conflict will lessen.