As the saying goes, it takes two to tango. If you’re locked in a power struggle with your son, you’re likely fueling it by giving him attention. Here’s a new way to think about power struggles:
It’s natural, especially for young boys, to push the boundaries. They’re experimenting with ways to gain control to achieve what they want. So, don’t engage in a back-and-forth struggle. If the issue at hand isn’t important, let it go. Wear sneakers or shoes to school? Gloves or mittens? One more bite of broccoli? Don’t get caught up in these relatively tiny daily details. As soon as you see a power struggle starting up, step back and disengage. Don’t give it attention. Instead, seize the moment as a learning opportunity. Let natural consequences help your son learn that he’s making life tough for himself. Tell him, “It was your choice not to get into bed at the time we agreed. So there’s no time left for a story tonight. I’ll miss reading to you. But, tomorrow will be another day and I know you will do a better job not fighting so we have more time for a story.” At first, he will cry and protest if you don’t join in on his desire to struggle… but by using this approach you can start to reverse negative patterns. Remember to always stick to what you say. Always appear calm and collected. Use fewer words. These will bring about fewer struggles.