How To Avoid Power Struggles with Your Child

Power struggles are inevitable with children. Yet, in public places or in social gatherings, they can be painful and humiliating for both the parent and child. Psychotherapist Dr. Erin Leonard shares tips on how to avoid power struggles:

1. Use reverse psychology (works best for kids ages 2 to 5).
i.e.: If you want them to eat their veggies– dare them not to. “Don’t you eat that broccoli. Don’t do it! Don’t you dare!” This surprises them and is so silly that they usually start to laugh. Then, it becomes a game and they win the power struggle by doing what you actually want them to do.

2. Always give them two choices.
Of course these choices are two things you want them to do.
i.e.: “Honey, do you want to brush your teeth or get your Jammie’s on?”
i.e: “Do you want to put your bike in the garage or help your sister?”

3. Reframe the situation.
“You can’t get candy now, but when we get home, you can have two pieces of candy, and if your good, maybe even 3.”

Of course, power struggles cannot be avoided, but it’s best to pick and choose your battles before threatening with a consequence. It is easy to follow through when there is not an audience… Say no and follow through at home as much as possible to avoid upsetting and awkward situations in other settings.

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