If you are struggling with power struggles you are not alone. Many of the parents who come into my office struggle with their child’s meltdowns, not getting up for school, refusal of homework, constant arguments, statements such as “but my friends get to”, and the list can go on. I am here to tell you there is hope and help. You can take charge and help to build a strong close relationship with your child that is rewarding and beneficial to you both. Starting this November, I will be starting a group for parents who are dealing with power struggles to help them take charge. We will be reading the book Parenting Without Power Struggles by Susan Stiffelman, as well as watching videos and reviewing additional handouts and books. This group will be an opportunity to bond with other parents who are also struggling with power struggles as well as a place to learn new skills to deal with everyday parenting issues.
Here are some of the topics that will be covered in the group
- Attachment and Connection
- Creating Unshakable Connections with your Kids
- Helping Kids Deal with Frustration
- Handling Resistance, Anger, Whining, Meltdowns, Aggression
- How to Get Kids to Cooperate
- Celebrate the Kid You’ve Got
- How to Help Kids Avoid Depression and Anxiety
- Being Present, Mindful, and Unwinding Without Electricity
- Launching Children Towards a Life of True Happiness
- Empowering Kids to Create Their Very Best Lives
As a therapist who works with children I am often asked how parents can deal with temper tantrums, kids who won’t accept no, not doing chores, and many other issues that are generally described as defiant, rude, and disrespectful. Parents can’t fathom why their child just doesn’t clean their room, take out the trash, or do their homework when asked the first time. It has been my experience that these situations generally stem from both the parent and the child wanting to have power over the situation. That’s right, your child wants to have power too, imagine that. At around age 2 children make attempts at autonomy. Remember those repeated no’s when your child was 2. That is when the battle of wills began and lets be honest, doesn’t really end until you send them off to college.
Karan Sims states in her article Dealing with Power Struggles, “Parents can turn these trying times into a rewarding growth period for them and their child by shifting their perspective concerning the child’s behavior and by becoming cleaver and creative in responding to the child’s perceived headstrong, rebellious, stubborn, frustrating, negative, behavior”. I believe this to be true. It is how one responds and asks another that can either spark a power struggle or create an environment where both feel empowered and get what they want. You may be asking yourself “but I am the parent and they should do what I ask because I said so”. To that I ask “ how is that working for you?” We all get frustrated, and have a need for freedom, connection, and a need to be seen and heard. It’s part of what makes us human. The trick is to figure out how to get these needs met for ourselves and our children while also preparing them for the future.
Understanding your child’s needs is the first step. In her book, Susan Stiffelman states that what a child or teen needs is for their parent to be in charge. Stiffelman points out her choice of the word “charge” over control. She believes, and so do I, that control implies “an attempt to compensate for feeling powerless or afraid”. How many times has your child or teen said “no” and you thought “you don’t get to tell me no, I am the boss here” and then raised your voice or grounded your child or teen just for saying no. Did you stop to think about what was going on with them before you got upset or why they might feel empowered to say no in the first place? Most times parents do not take their children’s experience in the moment into account when reacting after feeling powerless, frustrated, or afraid.
When a parent is in charge they are capable of keeping cool even when their child or teen is lashing out, having a meltdown, or any other incident perceived as rebellious, negative, and or less than desirable. A parent who is in charge has empathy toward their child in the moment and seeks to understand why the child may be resistant to what is being asked. Having empathy doesn’t mean giving in, it just means attuning with your child’s feelings and experience in the moment. When a child or teen knows their parents are in charge they can feel calm, relaxed, and know that you will get them through any challenges that cross their paths in live.
It is my goal that after completing this group, you and your child will know who is in charge which will help to facilitate a more meaningful and connected relationship now and in the future.
If you are seeking to take charge and eliminate the power struggles with your kid(s), talking to a therapist is a wonderful introductory gift to give yourself and your children. It could be the launch pad to the relationship between you and your kids that you have always known was there. Visit Life Skills Resource Group Orlando to get started and give us a call at at 407-355-7378 to schedule a free phone consultation. Our Orlando Mental Health Counselors, Orlando Children Counselors, Orlando Adolescent Therapists, and Orlando Teen Counselors would be happy to help you and your kid(s) get on the right track.