How to Avoid Power Struggles with Kids

09/16/2020
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Do you find yourself constantly in power struggles with your kids? Dr. Doug, a family psychologist, provides some strategies to avoid power struggles by sharing control with your kids.

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HI, PARENTS. I'M DR. DOUG. I'M A FATHEROF FOUR AND A LICENSED PSYCHOLOGIST, HELPING PARENTS BE BETTERLEADERS IN THEIR HOMES AND FOR THEIR KIDS. I RECENTLY SPOKE WITH APARENT WHO SAYS SHE KEEPS GETTING PULLED INTO UNWINNABLE POWERSTRUGGLES WITH HER KID. DO YOU EVER FIND YOURSELF SUDDENLY IN A POWERSTRUGGLE FOR CONTROL YOU CANNOT WIN WITH YOUR OWN KID? CONTROL, LIKELOVE, IS SOMETHING THAT SLIPS THROUGH OUR FINGERS WHEN WE DEMAND ITYET COMES IN ABUNDANCE WHEN WE SHARE IT. WE LOSE CONTROL WHEN WEDEMAND IT. PARTLY BECAUSE IT, IT REPRESENTS SUCH A DEEP-SEATED NEED.HOW STRONG IS THIS IN-BORN NEED? WE'LL CONSIDER THIS. DID YOU ENJOYWAITING IN TRAFFIC OR STANDING IN LINE? WOULD YOU RATHER HAVE A CARWITH ONE WINDSHIELD WIPER SPEED OR FOUR WINDSHIELD WIPER SPEEDS?WOULD YOU RATHER BE TOLD WHAT TO DO BY SOMEONE ELSE OR HAVE OPTIONSFOR YOU TO CHOOSE FROM FOR YOURSELF?

YOU SEE, SOMETHING DEEPWITHIN OUR HUMAN NATURE SO STRONGLY DESIRES CONTROL THAT MOST OF USWILL DO ALMOST ANYTHING TO EXPERIENCE IT. IN FACT, THIS NEED IS SOSTRONG THAT WE MAY EVEN DO SELF-DESTRUCTIVE THINGS TO GET IT. HAVEYOU EVER MISSED A SHOW SEARCHING FOR YOUR REMOTE CONTROL FOR YOURTELEVISION? HAVE YOU EVER SEEN SOMEONE RISK MULTIPLE LIVES JUST TOGET ONE CAR LENGTH AHEAD ON A BUSY HIGHWAY? HAVE YOU MET A CHILD WHOWAS WILLING TO FAIL AN ENTIRE SEMESTER OF SCHOOL, JUST TO PROVE TOHIS PARENTS THAT HE WAS THE ONE IN CONTROL? HAVE YOU EVER KNOWN ATEEN OR YOUNG ADULT WHO LOST THEIR HEALTH OR THEIR LIFE TRYING TOPROVE THAT THEY WERE THE ONES WHO COULD DECIDE HOW MUCH FOOD TO PUTIN THEIR BODIES, HOW MUCH ALCOHOL THEY DRANK, OR HOW MANY DRUGS THEYTOOK? CONTROL IS A SERIOUS MANNER.

WE CAN SHARE IT OR RISKTHAT OUR KIDS WILL HARM THEMSELVES TRYING TO WRENCH IT OUT OF OURHANDS. MANY PARENTS FEAR SHARING CONTROL, AND, AND I GET IT. THEYFEAR IT BECAUSE THEY UNDERSTAND THAT BAD THINGS CAN HAPPEN WHEN WEARE PERMISSIVE. NOW I'M NOT SAYING WE GIVE OUR KIDS A CHOICE BETWEENSTANDING IN THE WAY OF A SEMI-TRUCK SPEEDING DOWN THE ROAD OR, ORSTANDING OUT OF THE WAY. WE DON'T PUT OUR KIDS' LIVES AT RISK WITHCHOICES TOO BIG FOR THEM TO MAKE ON THEIR OWN, BUT WE CAN CHOOSE TOSHARE CONTROL ON SMALL CHOICES, SO OUR KIDS GET LOTS OF PRACTICEMAKING DECISIONS FOR THEMSELVES. WISE PARENTS UNDERSTAND THAT THEYGAIN CONTROL THEY NEED BY GIVING AWAY THE CONTROL THEY DON'T NEED.HERE'S SOME EXAMPLES OF WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE. SEE A PARENT GIVES THEIRKID TWO CHOICES TO CHOOSE FROM.

DO YOU WANT MILK OR JUICE TODRINK? WILL YOU BE WEARING YOUR COAT OR CARRYING IT? ARE YOU PLANNINGTO BE HOME AT 10:30 OR 11? DO YOU WANT TO DO YOUR CHORES NOW OR IN ANHOUR? ARE YOU GOING TO TURN YOUR CELL PHONE OFF OR IGNORE YOURFRIENDS' TEXTS UNTIL AFTER DINNER? YOU WANT ME TO PAY FOR THESECLOTHES OR DO YOU WANT TO PAY FOR THE DESIGNER ONES? IT'S YOURCHOICE. OR ONE OF MY FAVORITES IS, DO YOU WANT TO LEAVE NOW OR IN 10MINUTES? AND I USUALLY SAY THAT TO MY KIDS ABOUT 10 MINUTES BEFORE WEREALLY NEED TO LEAVE. NOW, THERE ARE SOME RULES FOR PROVIDING CHOICESTHAT YOU MIGHT FIND HELPFUL. THESE RULES INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING:NUMBER ONE, ONLY GIVE CHOICES THAT FIT YOUR VALUE SYSTEM. IT'SIMPORTANT FOR YOU TO KNOW YOUR VALUE SYSTEM AND WHAT MATTERS MOST TOYOU AND YOUR FAMILY.

NUMBER TWO, GIVE 99 PERCENT OF YOURCHOICES WHEN THINGS ARE GOING WELL. AND NUMBER THREE, GIVE CHOICESBEFORE YOUR KID BECOMES RESISTANT, BECAUSE CHOICES ARE LESS EFFECTIVEWHEN WE'RE NOT ALREADY PULLED INTO A POWER STRUGGLE. GIVING CHOICESEARLY ALLOWS US TO AVOID THE POWER STRUGGLES ALTOGETHER. NUMBER FOUR,FOR EACH CHOICE, GIVE TWO OPTIONS. EACH OF WHICH YOU LIKE, LIKE, DOYOU WANT TO LEAVE NOW? OR IN 10 MINUTES? I COULD LIVE WITH EITHERONE. AND NUMBER FIVE, USE CARE NOT TO DISGUISE THREATS AS CHOICES.ARE YOU GOING TO STOP ARGUING WITH ME OR BE GROUNDED FOR LIFE? YEAH.GOOD LUCK WITH THAT ONE. CHRONIC POWER STRUGGLES CAN RESULT IN KIDSGETTING LOCKED INTO SELF-DESTRUCTIVE PATTERNS OF REBELLION AS THEYTRY TO WRENCH CONTROL OUT OF OUR HANDS. BUT PROVIDING CHOICES WITHINLIMITS IS ONE OF THE MANY WAYS WE AVOID GETTING PULLED INTOUNWINNABLE POWER STRUGGLES WITH OUR KIDS. YOU SEE, WHEN WE TRY TOHOARD CONTROL, WE LOSE IT. AND WHEN WE SHARE CONTROL, WE GAIN IT.PARENTS. WE CAN ALL BE BETTER LEADERS IN OUR HOMES, AND BY NOTGETTING PULLED INTO UNWINNABLE POWER STRUGGLES, WE CAN HAVE MORE FUNRAISING RESPECTFUL, RESPONSIBLE, AND RESILIENT KIDS IN THISCHALLENGING WORLD. I INVITE YOU TO SEND ME YOUR QUESTIONS TO ASK DR.DOUG AT THE LOCAL NEWS.US AND I'LL ADDRESS THEM IN FUTURE EPISODES,PARENTS. I'M DR. DOUG. BE YOUR CHILD'S HEROES.

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