How many times are we faced with a power struggle and are not sure how to react. 

If your kid is constantly fighting with you over every single decision you make, how are you supposed to deal with it? I’d suggest you give them choices. If you don’t give them choices, they will constantly be looking for opportunities to make decisions and typically it’s not at a convenient time (you know, just before you have to leave the house). 

So, if you want to avoid a power struggle, you overload them with choices they can make. They don’t have to be big and important decisions. It just has to be frequent enough to where the student or the kid feels like they have control over their own lives. If they don’t feel like they have control in their own lives, they will find a way to get control and fight for it (like, just before you have to leave the house).

Small choices such as: Do you want the red cup or the blue cup? Do you want to play this game or that game? Do you want to do your homework first or go to the park first? 

If we give them choices that are of little consequence to our own lives and we give them lots of time to make those choices, all we’re doing is giving them practice in making responsible decisions and growing their independence. 

Girl learning to tie her shoelaces

It feels good for a kid when they get to decide things in their own lives. So if you do that, when you need to take control of the situation, they’re not going to fight you as much because they’ve already been given chances to make choices so frequently. Now, if everything is running smoothly, give them lots of choices. If things are not going well, cancel the choices. Take control. Say you’ve been able to make a lot of choices around here and now it’s my turn. I get to decide what’s going to happen next and this is the way that it’s going to be. It’s going to be much easier for you when you point out that they’ve been allowed to make choices and they’ve been behaving disrespectfully. You can point out that making choices is a privilege and is only for people who show respect. 

By drawing a direct line between their behavior and the removal of a privilege (making a choice), it is going to be a lot easier for them to correlate their behavior to their choices. 

Giving them choices is going to solve a lot of problems. You give them choices when things are going well, you don’t give them choices when things are going poorly. 

One thing I would like to add is to give them a time window when it comes to making decisions. If you say, “Okay, would you like to go to the park or would you like to go to the aquarium?” Sometimes, they’re just like, “Hmm.” and then you’re sitting there for 10-15 minutes. So, give them a time window to make those choices. For example, “Hey, we’re running behind. You’ve got to have to make a choice in 10 seconds or I get to make the decision.” Give them a time window so you don’t have to wait forever. If you didn’t have enough time to let your kid make the decision, you can tell them that and: “Next time you’ll be able to decide. I’m going to make this choice because we’re running out of time and we need to get moving.” I guarantee you that if you give your kids choices, you’re going to find that you have a lot less power struggles and everyone’s going to be a lot happier. 

In a nutshell:

  • Give your kids choices. LOTS of small choices. 
  • Give them a time window to make that choice.
  • If your child is disrespectful, withdraw the privilege of making a choice. 
  • If you are running out of time, tell them that you have to make the decision this time. They get their turn again next time. 

I’m curious to know if anyone else has any other tips or tricks that they like to use. Please go ahead and send them over to me. I’m really excited to hear from everyone about things that they do to make life with kids more fun and less stressful!