How To Avoid Power Struggles With Your Children
Before you pull your hair out...
I have a five year old boy named Ashton. He knows everything and I am stupid. I've come to terms with that and thank you for your support. That being said,
I see parents fighting with their kids every day and their kids will look at them like, "Who are you to tell me what to do?" So if you are so tired of arguing with your child you could scream, here's what I've found that works like a charm. Ashton and I still argue and bicker from time to time, but it's nowhere near as bad as it used to be. We may butt heads once a month as opposed to every single day. He's quickly becoming one of my best friends, and it's the greatest feeling in the world. You can have that great relationship with your children too, as it's never too late to jump in and take control.
Have a backbone!!!
You are not a jellyfish so quit acting like one.
Example: I was in the gas station the other day and there was a chick in there with her child who was roughly the same age as Ashton. I overheard the chick say in that disgustingly, sugary sweet voice that makes me sick, "Now come on honey, you can't have any candy". The kid walked to the candy aisle anyway. Here goes mom, again, with that disgustingly phony voice, "Sweetie, now I've told you, you can't have any candy." You think that kid listened? Of course not. The child went to the candy and got what she wanted. Did mom say make her put it back? Of course not. She sighed and said in a completely different voice than the one I heard just two seconds ago "I don't know why she won't listen to me." You wanna know why? For one, Barney here is just barely suggesting that she can't have candy. Two, you let her have it anyway. It's your fault she doesn't listen. Quit using that stupid voice! Your child knows you don't sound like that. Do you really think they are going to take you seriously?
The point is, stick to your guns. Children are like husbands - you give them an inch and they take a mile! Don't ever back down. Follow up with what you say. If you are one who uses time out, don't just use it as a threat. Follow through with it. If you spank your kids, don't just constantly tell your child they're gonna get a spanking. Do it! Idle threats do not work. They just show your kids you can't keep your word.
You're a proud parent, aren't you?!?
Look, I know how hard it is to be sweet when you're pissed off all the time. So here's the deal. Since you're constantly fighting and bickering you've probably lost track of the love part. I am not saying you don't love your kids, I'm just saying that maybe you've forgotten to show them you love them as often as you once did.
When you catch your child doing something right, let them know about it! Tell them how proud you are of them and how much you adore them. Kids feed off of love and affection. Find something that they truly enjoy doing, be it coloring or counting (something productive) and tell them how good they are at it and how you are so lucky to have a child so talented. Let them know they are appreciated and the attitude will tone down 2 notches automatically.
Listen to your kids.
Sometimes I just want to gripe. It's true! I have days where I'm on a warpath and I don't want to hear what you've got to say or even see your face, I just want to gripe at you and feel sorry for myself. Everyone can deny it all they want but we all feel like that from time to time. That doesn't fly anymore. I can't just sit in my room alone to avoid the world (which is what I used to do when I was in one of 'those' moods). Regardless of my mood my children still have to be taken care of from sun up to sun up. Yes, I meant sun up to sun up. Because there are no breaks. So this step is especially hard for me when I'm having one of 'those' days.
Say you walk in on your child and you just saw him take a toy away from his little brother, cousin, friend, dad, whatever the case may be. You tell him that he has to share and to get into time out. He starts protesting but you won't hear him. Here's a scenario:
Parent: I saw that! Get in timeout now!
Kid: But I didn't do anything wrong!
Parent: I just saw you take that toy away!
Kid: But it was mine...
Parent (interrupting): I said GET IN TIME OUT NOW!
Parent (interrupting again): NO MORE BUTS!!! GET IN TIMEOUT!!!
So the child throws a HUGE fit and you drag him into timeout. He's kicking, screaming, throwing stuff, and he will not listen to you. You're pissed and just want him to shut up and do what you said. After a long time of fighting, either the parent or the child submits and the incident is over.
Meanwhile the child is still furious that you didn't listen to him. Do you know what he wanted to tell you? That the little brother, cousin, friend, dad, whatever the case may be, was the one who took the toy from him first. And you wouldn't listen to him. He feels like there has been an injustice and he's right! Sometimes you just have to admit it. There are times when you are wrong.
To avoid huge dramatic scenes like this you should always hear your child out. Even if they are doing something wrong you want to know why. Don't angrily ask them to explain. Any time you approach with anger you are going to be answered with anger. It's simple. Just let your child have a voice.
You have to be on the same page!
This is probably the most important thing of all. This still doesn't happen at my house, which is why my child isn't perfect. My husband will undermine everything I say, regardless of if it's "eat your supper" or "get back in the house". I don't understand why he does it and I really despise him for it. If you do this or if your partner does this STOP THAT NONSENSE RIGHT NOW!!!! You are hurting your child more than you realize and you're teaching them they don't have to respect authority. Any authority.
If you tell your child something, make sure you stick to it and your partner sticks to it, too. How do you expect a child to know who to listen to if he's hearing two different things?
Example (true story):
Me: Ashton, go pick up your toys in your room.
Ashton: I don't feel like it.
Me: Well, you have to do it anyway. So get to it!
His daddy (who was leaving for work): Son, don't worry about it. I'll help you when I get home.
Ashton: Did you hear that mommy? Daddy said I don't have to listen to you!
I won't even go on about the rest of it, because I was livid after this moment. Needless to say, I made Ashton clean his room anyway and he was angry with me the rest of the night because his father undermined my authority. How hard would it have been for him to say "Just listen to your mom and clean your room". Sure, Ashton would have still been a little miffed, but the fit wouldn't have been half as bad as it was that night. And something productive would have came from the support.
So always work as a team. When you start fighting each other on how to raise the child, the poor thing will be so confused and upset that there's no structure that you can't expect them to listen to anyone.
Who should I listen to?
Which one tells me what I want to hear?
Discipline, Discipline, DISCIPLINE
This goes back to the never backing down thing, but it's a little more in depth. I am so sick and tired of walking through Walmart or any store, for that matter, and seeing the kids run wild with parents nowhere to be seen. They should revoke your ovaries and testicles. You never had the right to use them if you're not going to take care of your children.
Do not let your child get away with everything. You must teach them self-control. You must teach them respect for others. You have to teach them to not be total idiots! These things don't come naturally. It is your job to raise these children correctly. The only way to do that is through discipline that is guaranteed. Give them consequences to their bad behavior.
On the whole spanking versus time-out debate - who cares? As long as you're not beating your child and leaving bruises or hurting them some other way it doesn't matter. Each child is different so you're going to have to pick something that works for them. I have used both spanking and time-out for both of my boys. Since this article is focused on older kids, I'll talk about what works with Ashton. Spankings worked when Ashton was smaller and now they don't bother him. So I've swapped to making Ashton stand with his nose in the corner. He hates it and it works. Odds are I'll probably have to do something different when he gets older because the corner wont work anymore.
I firmly believe a child should have a solid ground of respect for their parents. They should love them and fear them. The children that grow up to kill their parents are the ones who have had no structure or discipline and don't respect anyone. So discipline your children. Please? Or you may wake up with little Johnnie standing over you with a machete singing Mary Had a Little Lamb, ya dig?
These techniques do not work on 2 year old children, as they are a species of their own. You just have to ride that stage out. Good luck.