All posts in “Discipline”

How to Diffuse a Power Struggle AND Gain Back Control

Every parent has experienced it… Those extremely frustrating POWER STRUGGLES that ultimately leave you feeling dis-empowered and defeated.  These struggles happen at home and in public (extra frustrating) and are often over things like putting on shoes, leaving a public place, getting in the car seat or sitting on the potty to name a few!  As adults it is easy to feel like these are small “things”, but we need to keep in mind that to our little ones these are BIG things.

When these power struggles become a part of your daily routine it can feel as if your parental confidence is in the gutter and you feel you have no choice but to just give in.  Well, I’d think twice before taking this approach…

Power struggles change from small “things” to  much bigger “things” as kids get older.  An overall lack of listening and being respectful will begin to build and pretty soon you will be struggling with a bigger more argumentative child.  So it is VERY important to get these struggles under control while your little’s are still little.

So. how can you regain control and diffuse these situations??

When your little’s are still little – 

1.  When tantrums ensue:  Power struggles and tantrums ensue because things happen too abruptly.  So give a warning about what is happening next…”We are leaving the park in 5 minutes”.

2.  When transitions are tough:  Talk, talk, talk…I can’t say this enough. It is easy to just rush through your routine with your little one but this can cause anxiety for them.   Think about it everything is NEW to them.  How would you feel if someone carted you around all day to unfamiliar places, never telling you what was happening next?

Even though your little one may not be talking yet they are still listening and absorbing EVERYTHING around them. Talk about what your schedule is for the day, starting the night before…

“Tomorrow Ashley is going to school and daddy is going to work.  We are going to have breakfast, take her to school and then we are going to gymnastics, then lunch and after nap we are going to the doctor.”  Then continue to talk about it through at the day, “now we are…and then…”.  Try this for a week and see how the power struggles and tantrums start to disappear.

3. When there is no letting go:  Say “goodbye” to inanimate objects.  Say “goodbye” to the ball, say “goodbye” to the puppy dog, whatever it is this approach allows your child to process letting go of said “thing” and therefore diffuses a power struggle of letting go.

4.  When independence takes over:  Around 3 years old little ones begin to want to do things on their own.  You want them to be independent but this sets the ground for lots of power struggles. Being the mindful, intelligent parent that you are, you allow them feel as if they have the power to choose but ultimately you know you are in control.

For example:  Your little one doesn’t want to wear a shirt. You WANT your little one to wear a shirt.  You allow him to choose between two shirts.  You ask him a few times to pick one but he refuses.  So you pull out the, “I’m going to count 3 and then you pick”.

Now, this can play out one of two ways…you count to 3 and he doesn’t choose and the struggle goes on and on OR when  you get to 3, you say, “ok, pick a shirt or I’m going to pick for you.”  And that is that!  He may be upset for a minute but now you have put a boundary in place that he will remember.  “I better choose or mommy will choose for me.”

When your little’s are not so little – 

1.  When power struggles become a teaching moment: Look at power struggles as your opportunity as a parent to provide guidance.  Remain calm and confident.

2.  When your child tries to argue or yell:  Always take the higher road and do not engage in arguing but instead diffuse the situation by saying something like, “I’m not going to argue about this, I’ve asked you to do it already and I trust that you will.”

3.  When you want your child to do something right away:   Coming across as a drill sergeant will get you nowhere.   Stop, take a breath and tune into their world for a minute.  We all know how irritating it can be to have to stop something we are really involved in to do something else.  Give em a break once in a while….

4. When your child is acting out:  Try and dig deeper,  if your child is normally a good listener see what the underlying issue is that may be causing this behavior.  Did something happen at school?  How are they feeling?

5.  When nothing is working:  Try and re-think your approach.  What works for one child may not work for another.  Depending on temperament and what type of learner your child is you may need to switch things up.

At any age – 

Treat them with the same loving kindness you expect from them.  Use these times of struggle to center yourself, be mindful of your actions and re-connect with your kids.  You will begin to find that you are now experiencing more peace and balance instead of struggle.

Please share your experiences with diffusing a power struggle below!  Any tips to add?

Setting Boundaries – 10 Ways to Create Peace at Home

Setting boundaries is one of the key elements in having a peaceful home.  The earlier you start setting those boundaries the better.

In the beginning your baby’s needs, (i.e. when they are hungry, tired or need a diaper change), determine your schedule and every second of your life.  Slowly moving toward a feeding/napping routine for your child can be the start of setting these boundaries.  By being consistent in your actions and setting limits, you can begin to shape your child’s expectations and understanding of how you will interact with them.

Think about the behaviors you are reinforcing, are they positive or negative? (Want even more info on positive reinforcement?  check out, The Power of Positive Reinforcement.)

Are you reinforcing undesirable behavior?

A good example of this pattern, that I often see with  coaching clients, is the challenge of getting a child to sleep through the night.  There is no doubt that this can be a painful, tiring process. Any parent that hears his or her child crying wants to soothe their baby. The trick is to do this in a way that doesn’t result in creating expectations for your child that are dependent on actions you do not want to continue to carry out – like missing sleep!

Consistently going into the room and giving your child a bottle, picking them up or rocking them back to sleep, (of course depending on age) creates a strong expectation for your child that when they cry you will come and fulfill their needs. Action (child crying) + reaction (parent fulfilling need) = reward (reinforcement of behavior).

It’s so important to teach your little one how to self soothe. This is the building blocks for a child to grow into a self-sufficient, respectful, caring individual with a strong sense of emotional awareness.

Setting boundaries is truly providing bumper pads for your child’s entire life. Often, parents feel it’s easier to just give in at the moment than deal with the crying o whining. Try and remember the bigger picture. Think about what kind of teenager you are creating. Encourage them to use their words to communicate their needs.

The key to setting boundaries

The key to setting boundaries is to stop being reactive in the moment and to start being mindful of how you are speaking. It’s important to be first be calm then be firm and direct. No drill sergeant’s allowed. Be authoritative in your parenting, listen to your children and allow for discussion. Be consistent and fair in your actions while placing limitsconsequences and expectations on their behavior.

In doing this your children will intrinsically understand where the boundaries are and there will no longer be a  constant battle to be in control of your own home.  Once again you will be able to breathe, finding overall, you have more meaningful interactions with each other.

Harmonious Households Top 10 Tips for setting boundaries:

1.  Work with your spouse/significant other as a united front.

2.  Stop and take a breath before reacting. Be mindful of your response.

3.  Come down to your child’s level (literally).

4.  Be consistent; don’t be a pushover.

5.  Be firm and direct, not angry or emotional.

6.  Starting in toddlerhood offer choices, For example, “You can put on your shoes, or I’ll put them on for you, you choose”.

7.  Put a time limit on things. Counting to 3 works like a charm!

8.  Allow for discussion as your children get older, don’t act as if, “It’s my way or the highway.”

9.  Remember that children may push boundaries but that they thrive in an environment that has boundaries.

10.  Most importantly, remind yourself that your little one’s will not hate you because you set boundaries.  Let go of that guilt!

NOT setting boundaries causes more harm than setting them.

What tips have I left out?  Please comment below to add yours to the list!

– If setting boundaries is something you are new to as a parent, coaching can be very helpful.  Often as parents it can be difficult to get out of old patterns and implement changes.  That’s where coaching comes in! If you feel stuck in a parenting rut, check out the About Family Coaching page for more details.


Toddlerhood – Impacting your Child’s Neurological Development

It’s no doubt that those toddler years can be down right, make you wanna pull your hair out frustrating!  When a child throws a tantrum we often feel confused, embarrassed, frustrated and fed up, thinking or sometimes even saying, “what on earth is the matter?”  and “this is just ridiculous! I can’t deal with this right now!”.  Every parent has had those moments,  these thoughts and feelings are totally ok and normal.   What can help in these intense moments is to first off have an understanding of what your toddler is going through physiologically, biologically and neurologically.  This knowledge can arm you with better ways of handling these outbursts.

Most parents have a  basic understanding of the different developmental stages their child is going through i.e. sitting up, crawling, walking, teething etc. But many people are unaware of what is going on neurologically during these first few years that allows these major milestones in development to occur.

From the early embryonic stage until around 2 years of age new neurons and synapses are being formed at an astonishing rate ( i.e. 40,000 synapses formed per second).  That’s a lot of synapses!  This ultimately leaves the child with many more neurons and synapses than are actually needed which causes the brain to begin Synaptic Pruning.  In synaptic pruning the extra synapses are eliminated allowing for more efficiency in the neural network.  Meaning that once those extra synapses or “roadblocks” are pruned the child can move on to the next milestone in development.

This process starts around 2 years of age and lasts until the child is about 10 years old.   The imperative piece in understanding these neurological changes is the knowledge that as a parent you can  impact this process.  A child’s synapses are either strengthened or pruned based on what their sensory, motor, emotional and intellectual experiences are. Therefore, as a parent if you are continually reinforcing positive, challenging, supportive and loving experiences at home then those synapses will be strengthened and preserved during the pruning process.   Just as optimism and positive thinking has been shown to reduce stress, improve health and create peace of mind for yourself, this same positive attitude can influence your child’s growth and development.  In the video below Dr. Masaru Emoto, a researcher and alternative healer, demonstrates the power of  positive and negative thinking on rice granules and points out how this can affect children…

Now that you are armed with this knowledge be mindful of your interactions with your children and remember that as their parent you have the power to guide them into being happy, healthy, loving humans.