Learn to avoid power struggles

“No!” it is one of the first words kids learn.  So, imagine your surprise when your child says it back to you in clear defiance, not cute mimicking like they did when they were toddlers.  The response can naturally provoke you into reacting and this can quickly result in a power struggle.  Power struggles are about control and your child’s behavior is a developmentally normal attempt to exert control and to get their needs met.  The “good news” is that while your child learning to be assertive and voice their opinions and wants is a necessary part of their development, power struggles do not have to be.It is not easy to resist your reaction of anger when you feel your child is being defiant and disrespectful.  But as soon as you dig your heels in and take the bait, so will your child and you are well on your way to a power struggle.  Kids don’t have to like what they are asked to do, just as we as adults don’t always like what we have to do.  It just may need to get done.  You can validate what your child is feeling and experiencing, such as “I know this is not fun to do.”  However, it is important to not engage your child’s anger and defiance to barter, negotiate, or demand because the more you do this, the more you are diminishing your own authority and helping to escalate things into a  power struggle.  Your job is to help your child learn how to experience their feelings and express them effectively and appropriately, and these situations are opportunities for them to  experience and build the skills necessary for conflict resolution.There are some things you can do to avoid power struggles without giving in to your child or leaving your

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