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Discussion about temperament and discipline.
Current Issue of BDINews
Caring for the High Maintenance Child
By Kate Andersen.

Power Struggles.
June, 2018.
Dear Kate:
My six-year old son and I are constantly battling .......
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Power Struggles
 
 
POWER STRUGGLES - What's Going On?


When I talk to parents who are having constant power struggles with their children, I find it interesting to observe the parent's body language. Often I see them get tense, with anger written all over their bodies, and a look on their faces that I can only describe as "I am darned if I am going to let this kid win these battles". I often find that these parents are not really listening to what I am saying and reply with "yes, buts". "Yes, but you don't know how stubborn my kid is." "Yes, but I don't really agree with what you are saying about negotiating." "Yes, but I want to know how to make him mind me." When I ran support groups, these parents often would not compromise over very minor matters over things related to the group. As much as I try to avoid labeling parents, I found myself thinking of these parents as very interested in power and control.
I used to pussyfoot around them, but found that did not always work. So I have found that sometimes it's more effective to try to get some rapid self-insight in such folks by reframing their interest in power as a combination of legitimate personality traits, legitimate parental authority issues, probably combined with a personal history that add up to a volatile parenting style.

"You really love to win, don't you?" I will ask, chuckling.

"No, I don't."

"I think maybe you do."

"No, you've got me wrong."

"Really?"

"Don't psychoanalyze me."

"OK."

"Well?"

"Well, what?"

"Well, what's your point?"

"We were talking about the fact you like to win."

"WE weren't talking about it. YOU were saying it and it's not true."

"No?"

"NO!!!"

"Okay, if you say so."

At this point, there would either be laughter, accompanied by that look of a light-bulb going on, or the parent would storm off (sometimes to call me back later and agree with me).

The courageous parents who stuck around eager to hear more could probably tell from my own tone and body language that I was not being critical or judgmental. So I would give them a little control back as a reward for being so open to listening. "So what's so bad about being interested in control. I bet you have a lot of leadership qualities. Right?"

Anyway, after learning about the parents' considerable strengths in getting things done in arenas where being a determined individual was a great attribute, I would then ask them to remind me how we got into this topic.

"Because of power struggles I am having with my kid."

"Oh, right! So what's the connection?"

Sigh. Heave. Sigh. Smile. Sigh. Smile.

 
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