Minimizing Power Struggles

Oct 21, 2016

Minimizing Power Struggles

Many parents share that power struggles are a challenging part of the toddler and early years.  Young children are working hard on being independent and mastering their world.  However, a child’s mission to make decisions and do things on their own can often conflict with parents attempts to gain cooperation. 

Offering choices is a great way to help children learn appropriate behavior while also giving them the opportunity to make some decisions and choose the desired outcome.   For many parents and children, choices are a “win-win.”

Here are some helpful tips that Forty Carrots Parenting Educators have for offering choices:

Don’t give your child a choice if there isn’t one. Often times, caregivers ask children, “Do you want to hold my hand?” If you are crossing a street, there really isn’t an option, because of safety. Instead, offer choices that are acceptable with you:  “Would you like to hold my hand or would you like me to carry you across the street?”

Keep the choices positive. Giving your child options should be fun and empowering. Try not to engage in options that sound like, “do it or else.”

Follow a “no” statement with two “yes” statements. This helps to keep things on a positive note. “There is no juice allowed in your room.  You may drink water or you may drink your juice in the kitchen”.

Keep options simple at first. Making decisions is something that your little one needs to learn. Giving too many options may cause added stress for both you and your little one. Keep things simple with two options:  “Would you like to wear the red coat or the blue coat?” 

Give a time frame. Let her know how long she has before she has to decide. “We have to leave the house for school in five minutes. If you cannot decide by then, then I will decide which pair of shoes you are going to wear.” Let your child know that you are giving her an option, but you will have to choose if she cannot make a decision.

If misbehavior continues even after choices are offered, then a consequence needs to take place. “You could not sit in the stroller or hold my hand, so we will go home now.”  Remember the importance of follow-through, so only offer the consequence if you are able and willing to follow through.

Offering choices is a great way to help children learn appropriate behavior while also fostering good decision-making skills.  Your child will appreciate the opportunity to choose for themselves, and you both will enjoy the feeling of success when a choice is made and a task is accomplished!

Category: Parenting Topics