Skip to content Skip to sidebar Skip to footer

How To Avoid Power Struggles With Your Kid

Some parents tell me that parenting feels like a battle zone. They say they go to bed every night feeling like they just fought world war 3. Well, it doesn't have to be that way. In fact, I feel rejuvenated and fueled by the interactions that I have with my children I'm Nicholeen and I want to teach you how to stop those power struggles from happening so that you can have that type of environment where everybody feels happy. 

So, why don't I have power struggles with my children? Well, that's because we understand communication and we have deliberately decided how we want to communicate as a family. I'll tell you one of the byproducts of having this type of deliberate conversation with your children is that at the end of the day, you have more energy, not less. 

In fact, if you feel like you are emotionally drained because you fought world war 3 at your house, you're going to be excited about some of the information and skills that we're going to share in this article. What a lot of parents don't know is that they start power struggles just as often if not more often than their children do. 

They recognize when it seems like the child is opposing them in some way. But they don't always go back far enough to realize that it might have been them that actually started the power struggle. Sometimes we get stressed or short-tempered. 

We say things we shouldn't have said. We give looks that we shouldn't have given. And all of a sudden, people jump to the defensive. Any time a person is power struggling, it's usually because one person either has said accusatory words or has had a tone that seems like they're accusing someone of something. 

Whether it's not understanding, not caring, doing the wrong thing. It could be any of those things. So, we know in our family that there is cardinal rule number one. Cardinal rule number one is we never talk to anyone unless they are calm first. There is a reason for that. In fact, it is a chemical and biological reason. So, when you're thinking clearly, you have almost all of your processing capability up in the front part of your brain. 

Your prefrontal cortex can problem solve, sort, put pieces together. But the more emotional you get or the angrier you get, then you go into the mid or back brain. When you're in the mid-brain, you have about mid-processing capability. When you're in the back brain, you have hardly any ability to problem solve with the front. Your emotions have taken completely over. 

When someone is in the mid-brain or back-brain, I'm not going to problem-solve with them yet. That's one of my rules. I started this rule when I was doing foster care for youth ages 12 to 18. Many of them had anger control issues we had to be consistent and help them solve their problems. But we could not be power struggling with them all the time. In fact, I wanted them to have a change of heart, not just a change of behavior. 

Which meant I had to wait for a time that I could actually appeal to their heart. If things aren't making sense when someone's talking to you, you're not going to have a change of heart. So, the rule was if they're out of control or going out of control then I would always say the same phrase. It was a trigger phrase. 

A phrase that would remind them to take some breaths, get calm and come back into control. That trigger phrase sounded like this: "t seems to me you want to tell me something. I want to know what that is. But we need to choose to be calm first then we can talk about it." Now, for sure, some people when they're going out of control and you say that, they're going to say, "I don't care. No. So what?" And then you can just say, "I can see you're still trying to tell me something." You might even say, "I see you're trying to tell me that you don't want to get calm. But we need to choose to be calm first. Otherwise, we can't talk about it." And that's all you say. 

You don't talk back to the person and you don't problem-solve with them while they are out of control. And if they know that is your cardinal rule number 1, then their argument and their anger will only go so far. In fact, it will end up only hurting them and they'll know it. So, soon there doesn't seem to be a point in holding on to that type of emotion and anger. 

When the BBC came to our family in 2009 and asked us if we would take in 2 troubled teens from England both ages 17, James and Hannah were their names. And if we would treat them like members of our family no matter what baggage they brought with them, we actually consented to do it as crazy as it sounds. 

Well, when they came, they did not know how to be calm. They did not know that they were power struggling every single time that something didn't go their way. We had to teach them that. The first thing we did was teach them how we would handle their power struggles and what skills they needed to know. So, these books each teach the 4 basic skills which we taught to James and Hannah. Now, I know they look like children's books. 

Maybe a little babyish looking. We didn't read them these stories at the time. We just taught them the skills contained in these books because every person needs the 4 basic skills which are how to follow instructions, accept no answers, accept consequences, and disagree appropriately.

Then we taught them how we would correct the problems if they chose not to be calm and not to do these 4 basic skills. We showed them this process. So, you can see there's a light side and a dark side. The light side means we're making good choices. 

The dark side means we might be going down the wrong track. So, we showed them this is how we'll give you an instruction, this is how we'll correct it and when. If you choose to disagree appropriately or accept your consequence, you can go over here. But if not, then this will come next, this will come next. 

We told them all the words we would ever say to them if they chose to go completely out of control. We taught them the skills that they would need for communication. We taught them how we would fix the situation if things were going wrong and we taught them the 4 different types of communication. 

There are 4 different ways that people communicate with each other to solve problems. 3 of the 4 ways are power struggles and are manipulative. There is only one way that is not a power struggle. That one way is called assertive communication. Assertive communication is a type of communication when you prepare ahead of time how you will solve your problems. 

You learn the skills you need, you plan the words you'll say. You even plan the tone and the investment that you'll have with the other person. You plan to love them. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Look into their heart. Be understanding, have compassion. 

Those are all assertive things that a person does. But they also know exactly what words to say when a situation arises. So that they're prepared. Now, what are those other three styles of communication? They're words you've probably heard of before but we don't usually recognize all of them as power struggles. 

The first one is aggressive communication. Aggressive communication is when a person tries to control another person. When they try to force an issue. With the power of their voice, the power of their will, or the power of their body. So, hitting, spanking, yelling, gripping, spitting, biting. Parents and children all use aggressive communication. 

Well, I shouldn't say they all use it, should I? But they all can use it if they want to. Most people learn that aggressive communication looks a little ridiculous especially once they get a little more mature. This is why when children hit the ages of 12 to 18, they start doing something called the attitude problem. 

The attitude problem is passive-aggressive communication. This type of communication is when they try to get their weight and control by having an attitude. And instead of going completely out of control and yelling and hitting and stuff like that. Now, normally with people who choose passive-aggressive communication, will actually try all different types of aggressive communication and passive communication if the passive-aggressive communication doesn't work. 

That is a mouthful. So, anyway, what they do is they try to have an attitude. When that doesn't work, they get more aggressive, louder, angrier. Then they might turn to passive communication. That's our third communication style that is a manipulative power struggling type of communication. Passive communication is when you become the victim. 

So, then the person might be like, "You never care, you don't like me, you hate me." You know? Those types of things. They become the victim. That's the whining, complaining, excuses. That's another type of power struggling. In fact, that's the one type of power struggling that people fall for the very most. Because it's easy to get drawn into that pitiful emotion. "Oh, no! Honey, I love you. I don't hate you. Don't think that." 

When parents start doing that, they're coddling their children and they're actually participating in a power struggle. So, what should parents do instead? Parents should communicate assertively if they don't want a power struggle. Which means they've got to use their skills. One of the skills that parents need a master is a skill of correcting behaviors. 

Which is not about reacting to behaviors but it's about proactively preparing what to say before the situation ever arises. So, how do we avoid these power struggles? We use the skills that I already talked about. One of the biggest skills that help with understanding which is usually a reason why people start power struggling is because they get anxious and they feel like you don't understand. 

The skill they need for that is disagreeing appropriately. When a person disagrees appropriately, they look at the person, they keep a calm face voice, and body. They say that they understand the other person's point of view then they share their point of view. They listen to what the person has to say and then they say okay and drop the subject. 

The skills work for any relationship. I've used it with people at airports, people with stores, my husband. I've used it with my mother, with my children. It works for everyone. It's respectful communication that appeals to logic it's a very mature assertive communication style. This helps them seek to understand other people and be understood. 

\Which is a great principle of communication. When a person is going to choose not to a power struggle, that means they're going to disengage that emotional part of the brain, you've got to replace that with something else. This means the skill has to come in to fill the place that normally would be used by the emotion. Stopping power struggles means that you have to do a correction. 

Consistency is required. You have to catch every power struggle, correct it and point it in the right direction. If you let some of the power struggles go and you don't handle them, you're going to have a harder time avoiding those power struggles in the future. We're all creatures of habit which mean consistency is key. 

So, how do you do a proper correction? I'll give you a clue. You don't use emotional reactions. Instead, you use your skills again. You use your logic. One of the skills that I start every correction with is a description. Right after I say, "It seems to me that you want to tell me something. I want to know what that is. 

But we need to choose to be calm first then we can talk about it." Then I go straight into a correction. "Just now, I gave you a no answer. You looked at me but you did not keep a calm face voice and body. You didn't say okay or ask to disagree appropriately. And you didn't drop the subject. What you should have done was you should have dropped the subject. 

You should have kept a calm face voice and body. And you should have said okay or chosen to disagree appropriately." Since you chose not to, you've earned an extra chore. I talk in other articles about consequences or some people call them punishments. And why I use extra chores. It's a powerful consequence and there are reasons. I don't have time to go into that now. But that's our main negative consequence at our house and it's great for character building and taking personal ownership over your behavior. 

The main way that you avoid power struggles is by infusing the family with calmness. It starts with yourself. You have to be calm or at least be heading in the direction of calmness. If you are going toward calmness, your children will be calm too. They'll feel like that's the direction and it feels safe to go that way. Many people need a little help finding their calmness. 

Calmness is power. And we know that when we meet a truly calm person who isn't ruffled by little things. Who isn't stressed who doesn't try to control? Yet for some reason they have such great influence. You can be that person. You might just need a few more skills, a little bit of training to help you along the way.

Post a Comment for "How To Avoid Power Struggles With Your Kid"