Tag Archives: power struggle

March ’18 Q&A – Getting Choices to Work, Getting a Spouse On Board and Swearing

Getting Choices to Work

Q. What is the next step after saying, “You can either pick up that toy you threw and put it in the box or hand it to me. Which do you choose?” and the child refuses to choose or states they refuse to do either? I frequently find this with my 3 year old daughter. We either end up in a power struggle or I end up letting it go and the toy is left or I pick it up. 

A. I would add, “If you can’t make the choice right now, let’s take a break and do something else and then come back to it.” If you put it to her the moment she has thrown the toy it is too soon because she is deep in her anger. Next time give it time for her emotions and yours to calm. I might also start with “Do you want to…” instead of “You can either…” which sounds a little more threatening. If your anger is behind your words, she will definitely not respond. Take a break, do some calming down activity, then acknowledge the anger that made her throw the toy – “You were very angry when I asked you to put your toys away. You didn’t want to do that so you threw one of them because you felt mad.” You then normalize her feelings and let her know she is okay. Then say, “Are you ready now to make a choice? Do you want to bring it to me or put it in the box?” Once feelings are calmed, she is more likely to want to make amends.

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“Wait, aren’t I the parent here?” Using Your Parent Authority

The human child remains with a parent until the child is capable of making his own decisions about his health, safety, and well-being. The parent holds authority over this child until that time — usually through the teen years.

That’s the reason for parent authority. It is not to control the child to be who the parent wants or to demand obedience to make life easier for the parent. This leads to power struggles and rebellion or looking to others for authority and approval.

Your job as parent is to insure that your child does what she shouldn’t be expected to do on her own – simply because she’s too young.

Rick Trinkner of the University of New Hampshire has researched the types of families who raise self-confident, self-controlled, respectful children. Trinkner says,

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Empowering Boys and Girls in a Culture of Sexual Harassment

The news has been shocking to say the least. But I believe the tide is turning. Powerful men are being called to the table and women are feeling strength in numbers. How did we get here? Or rather, if this is the beginning of the end of centuries of male conquest and domination, how do we raise our children to keep the momentum going?

It comes trippingly off the tongue for us to encourage and admire the strength and competition of boys and the delicate, sensitive nature of girls. Even when we consciously want it to be different, unconscious norms take over. We’ve been this way for eons; no wonder it’s hard to change habits.

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The Dos and Don’ts of Power Struggles

When my daughter Molly was five, I was exhausted and drained everyday. I couldn’t see a way out of our daily power struggles. She was pushing all my buttons, and I was reacting with hostility. But it was the mental notes playing in my head that got me the most. I was worried we would fight always. Fortunately I was wrong.

One morning, the same whiny, grumpy face approached with that ever-present protruding lower lip—but something was different. Every other morning when I saw this face, I thought to myself, “She’s out to get me. She’s doing this on purpose to make me mad.”

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To Give In or Let Go: That is the Question
Power Struggles

I was stuck in power struggles with my daughter because I didn’t want to give in. If I did, I feared she would have all the power. She would learn that anytime she wanted her way, she could just dig in until she outlasted me. I couldn’t have that. So I dug in too. Until I understood how “letting go” could change our relationship.

My daughter was a won’t take no for an answer/won’t be told what to do kind of a kid. It’s hard to accept a child like this until you understand it as inborn personality rather than manipulative, oppositional behavior that must be eradicated. But that’s what I tried to do so I couldn’t give in, I couldn’t let her get away with it. As long as I believed I had to train her out of this opposition, I had to maintain control. Anything else felt like giving in.

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When My Dog Pushed My Buttons and What I Learned from It

The other day I went kayaking with my husband, some friends, and my puppy, Maggie. Last summer, Maggie’s first summer, she learned to nestle with me in the dell of my kayak. She wasn’t always happy to sit still but she got better as the summer progressed and seemed to enjoy being out on the water with us. This summer I was anxious to see what she retained from her kayak experience.

As I had done the previous summer, I attached Maggie’s leash to her harness and tied it around my waist. She would have none of it. I worked for a while encouraging her to sit as she had done last summer (when she was much smaller I might add). As she kept fighting what I wanted her to do, I got more forceful and controlling until I was screaming at her and trying to push her down into a sit.

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Problem Solving 101

My husband and I were taking a walk with our 21 month old grandson. For a short distance we needed to walk in the road. I said,

“Hold my hand Sam. You have to hold my hand in the road.”

At first he did and then he had a different idea and pulled his hand away. I said,

“Sam you have to hold my hand.”

He did not want to comply. So I picked him up as he was working hard to wriggle away from me and said,

“Sam you have to hold a hand in the road. You can hold Poppy’s hand or my hand, which do you choose?”

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The Do’s and Don’ts of Ending Power Struggles – Forever

When my daughter Molly was five, I was exhausted. I couldn’t see a way out of our daily power struggles. She was pushing all my buttons, and I was reacting with hostility. But it was the mental notes playing in my head that got me the most. I was worried we would fight always. Fortunately I was wrong.

One morning, the same whiny, angry face approached—but something was different. Every other morning when I saw this face, I thought to myself, “She’s out to get me.” This particular morning I thought, “Wait a minute, she’s not out to get me. She’s miserable.” Suddenly I saw her differently. Instead of a resistant, defiant—okay I’ll say it—brat, I saw a very upset little girl who didn’t want to separate from me. I was battling her and she was anticipating the battle. It was all she could do to get me to understand her, and I wasn’t cooperating.

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