Power struggles with your child

Effectively handling power struggles
(Excerpts from a Peace Parenting Project workshop)

How do you recognize that you're in a power struggle?

  • You feel provoked, challenged, angry.
  • You have thoughts like "You're not going to get away with that!" or "How dare you!"
  • You feel yourself rising from your chair.

What should you do when you're in a power struggle?
Diffuse it! You DO NOT want to win a power struggle with your child! This only leaves your child feeling angry and resentful (no different than how you feel when you lose a power struggle with your boss or your spouse). These are not feelings that make for a peaceful home.

How can you diffuse the power struggle?
The Redirecting Children's Behavior workshop provides 8 techniques to diffuse a power struggle. Here are a few of them:

  • Validate your child's feelings. E.g., "Bedtime can really sneak up on you can't it? You were hoping to have more time with that puzzle."
  • Give your child some power! Offer choices. E.g., "It's time to go to bed - do you want to walk or would you like me to carry you?" The bedtime is not negotiable, but there are a myriad of choices that they can make around it (which book to read, which pajamas to wear, etc.)
  • Do the unexpected. Use humor. E.g., "This is what people look like when they don't get enough sleep." (Act ridiculous, fall down, do anything that you know will make your child laugh).

How can you prevent power struggles from happening in the first place?
Again, the RCB workshop provides you with 11 techniques. Here are a couple of them:

  • Be FIRM AND KIND. This is our mantra! You can say everything you need to say firmly, so that your child knows it isn't negotiable, and with kindness, so that your child feels respected and loved.
  • Talk less! If at all possible, use ONE WORD! E.g., if you struggle with your child brushing their teeth at night: "Teeth." If they have trouble getting out the door to go somewhere, "Shoes." And remember to say it FIRMLY and KINDLY :

For more information on the Redirecting Children's Behavior workshop and other services offered, visit www.peaceparenting.org

Fall Offerings for the Redirecting Children's Behavior Workshop:
September 11 - October 9, 2008
October 16 - November 13, 2008

*Each workshop runs for 5 consecutive Thursdays, unless otherwise noted.

Workshop Location:
3573 Lakeshore Avenue @ Prince
Oakland, CA 94610

The next Peace Parenting Project *FREE* Seminar will be given at Bananas.
Topic: Sibling Rivalry

Thursday, July 24, 2008 from 7 - 8:30pm

Call Bananas for more information:
5232 Claremont Avenue
Oakland, CA 94618

About Lisa Bilgen:
Lisa Bilgen, M.A. is a Peace Parenting Educator and certified Redirecting Children's Behavior instructor. Through a variety of workshops and courses, Lisa helps parents create peaceful, loving relationships with their children and a home environment in which empowered peace-makers emerge. Lisa's workshops and courses are available in English and Spanish.

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