Stop The Power Struggles With Your Adolescent
Power struggles as your child get older are developmentally appropriate. When your child is young, they rely on you 100%, and as they age, their self-power increases little by little, but when kids are young, they take our opinions and words as gold. Little children just accept the things we say as truth. As kids get older and become more independent thinkers, that’s when the questioning comes into play, and the power struggles begin.
The most popular reason at the heart of the power struggle that I have seen is the parents not wanting to control. When parents are in control, it feels safe and secure to us. Losing control is scary, and we all know that kids make bad choices, so we don’t like to trust our children. This lack of trust to let our children make their own choices and decisions come from fear for the parent. We don’t want to see our kids hurt by bad choices. Many parents don’t want to lose control of their child’s influence because they see it as more opportunities for their child to get hurt. The power struggle actually comes from a place of love in this circumstance.
As your child grows older and this exchange of power shifts, parents lose total control, and what remains is only influence. Yep, I said it. Parents, you can not force your child to do anything they don’t want to do. You lose control. You may try to make their life so miserable that your choice is the only desirable choice your adolescent has- but in the end, it is still your child’s choice. So, since parents are only left with influence as their best source of power, today, I will give you some tips for avoiding the power struggle and have the greatest influence on your child.
Tip #1 for avoiding the power struggle is making strong bonds with your child from the ages of 8-12. These are the tween years, and they are the most critical years, in my opinion, to form your relationship with your child. Parents who make a secure bond with their child have much more success influencing their teenager later because the foundation to trust you is already built.
Tip #2 for avoiding the power struggle is to help your child understand and accept their power. This might sound counterintuitive, but you want your child to feel like they have choices in life, and your there to help them learn to make the right choices. You want to make sure your child understands that you are not there to dictate their lives but rather support them through life. This sentiment allows teens to let down their guard and gives the teenager space to open up to you. This also means that as a parent, you have to shift your focus from talking to listening. This brings me to tip #3
Tip #3 for avoiding the power struggle means thinking of your parental role more as a coach than an authoritarian. Good coaches stand on the sidelines and give guidance on how their player can improve their game. When a player is in a match and makes a mistake, the coach doesn’t walk onto the court or the field, take the ball and start playing for the player. No. When parents are approached by their adolescent with the question, “What should I do, Mom?” the parent gives the child answers. Giving your child answers doesn’t teach them to problem-solve or think for themselves.
Tip #4 for avoiding power struggles is teaching your child how to be analytical and problem-solvers. To do this, parents need to learn how to ask the right questions, they need to learn how to be active listeners, and they need to learn how to be patient with this process. It sounds easy when I say it, but let’s get real… being an active listener and helping your child learn to problem solve is exhausting. It takes time and effort, and many parents don’t have the energy to do it at the end of a long workday. This can be one of their biggest mistakes.
So how do parents teach their kids to be analytical problem-solvers? The answer is helping your child come to their OWN conclusions and choices by walking with them step-by-step through decision making. If you don’t allow your child to make their own choices and only give them directives, they will never internalize their choice. It is so easy for humans to say, “I just did it because they told me to,” and not learn from their mistakes or take responsibility for their actions. Your adolescent needs to learn how to make good choices, which will never happen if you make all the choices for them. When parents call too many of the shots- that is when the power struggle rears its ugly head. But you can influence your child into making better choices by leading them into problem-solving with your help and guidance. This then becomes a win-win situation.
I have a FREE PDF to help you through the process of teaching problem-solving with your child. Go to https://theimpactfulparent.com/problem-solving to get this FREE PDF TODAY.
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Follow The Impactful Parent for more FREE tips and resources. Real advice. Real issues. Period. @theimpactfulparent Helping parents of school-age children.