Just the other day I was trying to get my foster daughters in bed and I was trying to get some other things done. They were talking in their room and I had already asked them to be quiet and go to sleep when I could hear some random clicking noises coming from their room. I got up off the couch, where I was just getting settled in to work, and went to their room. I stood by the door for a minute when I thought to myself, “Is anyone really being hurt by the little bit of noise that is coming from the room”? The answer . . . “NO.” So I took a deep breath and let my mama control sneak back into the corner and decided to just go back to work on the couch. The situation would have probably turned into an argument and I’m glad that I was able to stop and think about it before starting a power struggle.
Have you every Power Struggled with your kids?
This has to be one of the toughest things that I face every day with not only my foster kids, but also my own kids. I have this personality that needs to be in charge. It doesn’t matter if it is trivial or really important, my brain says, “You have to be in charge, a (insert age here) year old can’t be in charge of that.”
I have been working on this on a very consistent basis, and boy let me tell you that it takes work EVERY-SINGLE-DAY! In fact it takes work every single minute. Every time I see something that my kids are doing wrong not the way that I would do it, I just have to take a step back and breathe. This is a continual struggle and something that I hope to finally get a handle on without so much work…only time will tell.
What Are Power Struggles?
When you feel the need to win in a situation with your children and you are both determined not to lose, you’re probably in a power struggle. Power struggling, is very common in parenting, but something that we should all do better at not doing.
A couple of ways to Avoid Power Struggles
It’s okay if you are the type of person who likes to be in control, but you have to let your kids have some control too. When we had teenage foster boys, they were game any time, day or night, to power struggle with me. The hardest time I had with power struggling was when my foster boys would break one of the rules and when given a consequence they would want to “explain”. I would fall trap every time to letting them explain and then getting in a power struggle about what “really” happened or what the consequence should be. So here a a few ways that I avoid power struggles that will hopefully work for you as well.
1. Pick your Battles- Just like the story at the beginning of this post, I had to stop and think about what the outcome would be if I opened the door and made a big deal out of something so small. Did it matter if someone was making a noise in their room? Did it really effect anyone, even me? If the answers to your questions, when you stop and think about the situation, lead you to the conclusion that this really isn’t hurting anyone else and that you just feel the need to be in control. STOP and don’t choose that battle to fight. Of course there are battles that are worth fighting for, and you have to be the one to determine what those are, but don’t let it be every single thing.
2. Give them choices. Maybe you want to teach them responsibility by giving them chores. You could let them have the choice of doing a certain chore one week and a different one the next. With little kids, you may want to give a couple choices of what to eat for dinner during the week. If they have a choice in what they are eating they will be much less likely to complain. This strategy can work in many other situations too.
This is not going to be easy for many of you, well… at least it isn’t for me. This will take a lot of effort but will be well worth it in the end. Go ahead and leave a comment with some ideas that you have for avoiding power struggles with your kids. We would all appreciate some extra ideas for avoiding power struggles.