Every day feels like a power struggle.  Every day, you tell your kid to do something and no matter what, they refuse.  They scream.  They tantrum.

This is a common scenario.  You won’t see it happen in other families because it usually happens at home so you feel like you are the only one going through this, but in reality, this is happening in homes across the country. 

You can get rid of power struggles completely but you can have fewer.

Let’s start here: Power struggles are born from a place where either the parent has too much power or the child has too much power.  Then power struggles are fuel when there is inconsistency and insecurity.

Ok.  Let’s break that down.  

Power struggles are born from a place where either the parent has too much power or the kid has too much power. 

The parent having too much power is when an order or directive is given.  A common one is “Eat your dinner.”  There is no input from the child on how hungry they are, what kind of food they have already this week, what kind of food they prefer, how they are feeling, when did they last eat, etc. 

The kid having too much power is when they tell the parents that they only want this certain kind of food.  But they don’t want it touching other food, they don’t like the texture this time, they don’t want it on the red plate, they only want the one part and not the other part etc.  

balance of power is where a parent makes a boundary with input from the child. 

So the parent would make the same food for the whole family with at least one item that they know the child has like in the past and then the child has the input of what they eat from that plate.   But just because you have a balance of power in this situation, it doesn’t mean that you will get rid of the power struggle. 

If the child has gotten their way in the past by screaming longer and tantruming more, then they will try that strategy again to see if they can get the upper hand.

So the child will keep making demands about them meal and the food and the parent will hold the boundary and not give in.  The child will cry and scream and tantrum and if the parent is consistent, then the child will start to feel more secure, they will know what to expect and the power struggles will slowly start to go away.

Kids need consistency.  Kids need security.  Kids need to know what is going to happen.

So after a period of time where you have found the balance of power and you have been consistent on your part of holding the line while asking for input, the child will approach these difficult situations (taking a bath, mealtimes, bedtime) with the security of knowing exactly what is going to happen.