Most Common Power Struggles with Children

Tuesday November 13, 2012

By Amy Morin

Kids are so good at being stubborn. Try to get them to do something they don't want to do and suddenly, they've got the patience of a saint. They'll do anything to get out of doing it.

They usually have a few different tricks up their sleeve as well. There's the "pretending I don't hear you" approach. There's also the "I'll keep you arguing with me until you forget what you asked me to do" approach. And the ever so popular, "I'll push your buttons to make you so mad you don't care if I do what you asked" approach.

When kids can lure you into a power struggle, it decreases the likelihood that they'll have to do what you asked. And at the very least, it delays doing what they don't want to do. The longer they keep you arguing, the longer he doesn't have to pick up his toys.

There are several hot topics that seem to lead to frequent power struggles. These are things that kids hate doing but parents know are important. So often, a power struggle ensues. Here are some of the most common issues that lead to power struggles:

1. Homework- Most kids don't like doing homework. But parents know it is important to get it done in order to do well in school. So out of desperation, parents often beg, argue and try to nag kids until they concede.

2. Clothing- What a child wears can be a power struggle from the time they are toddlers right up through college. Try to get a six-year-old girl who loves dresses to put on pants to go to the playground, and you might see a meltdown. Or try to get your 14-year-old to put on his hat, and it can lead to a power struggle.

3. Food- Some kids are just picky eaters. But parents want kids to be healthy. So trying to convince a child to eat vegetables can lead to a big power struggle if you aren't careful. Kids will often give up dessert or sit at the table long past dinner time, as long as they don't have to touch those lima beans.

Rather than arguing, logical consequences are a great way to respond to oppositional behavior. It's important for parents to learn how to avoid power struggles so they don't end up battling with their kids about everything. Otherwise, it can feel like a losing battle.

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