It’s happened. In spite of all your good intentions, you and your child find yourselves in the middle of an argument. No time for advance techniques, you need help now! Learning how to unhook from a power struggle is great, avoiding one is even better! There are some simple techniques that can help you disengage, read on to determine which of these methods will work for you. It is always helpful to have a large arsenal of parenting skills at your disposal!
Try and see the situation from your child’s perspective. By using empathy you can start to defuse the situation. It also gives you the opportunity to step back and regroup. Using ‘I statements’ can be very helpful. For example, “I know it must be very frustrating for you when I say no TV until your homework is complete. But I promised you that I would help hold you accountable for your school work.”
Validate your child’s feelings. Often young children need help identifying what they are feeling. By helping them to name the feeling you can better address it. Your older children also need to be ‘heard’. By letting your child know that you identify with what they’re feeling you can start to build the bridge to reconciliation.
Excuse yourself from the situation. We are the adults and sometimes we need to take control and remove ourselves from the situation so everyone can calm down. We are only human and we too can get caught up in the moment. Recognizing that the situation is out of control and taking action is the responsible thing to do.
Debrief with the ABC method. This is also a great opportunity to try out the ABC Method. ‘A’ represents the antecedent behavior, ‘B’ the behavior, and ‘C’ the consequence. When you are debriefing you can go through this exercise with your child and brainstorm various scenarios that may end differently. This is a great way to reassure your child that they are in control of their feelings and the outcome of their behavior.
Ask yourself what’s more important to you – the love of power or the power of love. Power struggles happen when a parent wants to control a child and their behavior, rather than help the child to develop an internal set of values and standards. If you become dictatorial every time your child disagrees with you, he will receive the message that it is not OK for him to have his own thoughts, ideas, feelings, etc. Realize that our job as parents is to guide and teach, not to control.