Education: How parents – avoid power struggles – with their child

How parents avoid “power struggles” with their child

30.01.2015, 13:01 hrs | Nicola Wilbrand-Donzelli,

In a power struggle between parents and children, there are no winners. (Source: Thinkstock by Getty-Images)

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For parents, power struggles with their offspring are often a balancing act: On the one hand, they do not want to impose their will too authoritarian on their child, but on the other hand, living together only works with certain rules, which everyone should adhere to. But what can be done if the little “thick skulls” don’t want it as mummy and daddy imagine? An expert gives tips on how to avoid annoying and fruitless arguments as much as possible in stressful situations.

Overflowing with tears and screaming, two-year-old Tim has been standing in front of the cupboard for a long time, where his mom keeps the candy box. “I want chocolate,” he keeps yelling in an endless loop, finally throws himself defiantly to the floor and doesn’t want to calm down at all. Most parents probably know such loud stress moments with their offspring and are not only annoyed, but also somewhat helpless when it comes to how to solve such a “power struggle” without giving in.

Despite phase is pure nerve test for parents

The conflicts can often only be solved with patience. to the video

Mediate rules with loving care

For Gabriele Gebhardt, a qualified pedagogue, such conflicts should not actually be fought out as power struggles. In an interview with the parent editorial office of she says: “This expression is actually not appropriate. Because power struggles always presuppose that one of two parties wins in the end. But education is not about winning or losing or even about breaking the child’s will. It is rather a matter of giving his offspring loving attention, but consistently certain rules.”

Egocentric and impulsive in the defiant phase

How difficult it can be to put this educational credo into practice, however, parents usually experience for the first time in the so-called autonomy phase of their child, in which chocolate lover Tim finds himself. During this period, which develops between the ages of two and three, the little ones try to test their limits for the first time. They usually react very impulsively and stubbornly because they cannot yet control their feelings.

“Many parents initially feel quite insecure about such outbreaks,” explains Gebhardt. “But they must be aware that their children do not deliberately act to annoy them. The little ones do not yet have empathy in this sensitive age group and therefore behave egocentrically and want to assert their will. Such fits of rage must be experienced because they are important steps in the development of a healthy self-confidence.” Only in the following years did children learn to put themselves in the shoes of others and thus to respond to their parents’ sensitivities.

Negative attention through insults

But how should fathers and mothers deal with the “rebelling ego minis” in the concrete case and how can the waves be smoothed? Gebhardt knows that this does not necessarily have to happen if parents take into account the fact that bans usually heighten the conflict even more in the respective situation: “Because through abuse the children experience negative affection with the result that they continue with their ‘game’. Thus one promotes exactly what one actually wanted to avoid.

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Create low-stimulus situations and only use “no” sparingly

Therefore, it is best if parents try to be economical with their “no” consciously, use it only on important “occasions” and thus create low-irritant situations from the outset. “If annoyed parents constantly say ‘no’ reflexively, they can assume that their offspring will then say ‘no’ to them,” explains the teacher. Tactically, it would be better to encourage the child in a positive way, for example: “Yes, you get a candy, but after eating”, or “Yes, you can bake two more sand dishes, but then we go home from the playground”.

A positive approach to situations with conflict potential is also effective with older children, for example when the bad-tempered offspring comes from school and throws his school bag into the hallway as a trip hazard. “Here it is completely counterproductive to shout straight away and, for example, to say the reproach ‘Always leave your bag lying around in the way’,” explains expert Gebhardt. “It makes much more sense to say what bothers you and why you’re annoyed, without being derogatory, simply objectively and calmly. That doesn’t even let a headwind arise.”

Important rules are not negotiable

Such strategies only make sense in concrete situations, however, if children have learned certain important rules. The diploma teacher explains that it is not negotiable to go to sleep at a certain time in the evening. But parents could give the child the opportunity here to help shape the situation and, for example, to suggest: “Before you go to sleep, you can choose whether we sing a song or read a story first”.

provide opportunities for cooperation

When visiting a doctor, the child should also be aware that vaccination with a syringe cannot be avoided. But they should also have the opportunity to decide where they want to sit or who is allowed to hold their hand. “In this way a positive atmosphere is created , commentates the Expertin further. “The child is cooperative, feels respected because it can make a difference and participate in decisions. A discussion probably does not take place”.

Children therefore always need a framework in which they can move that is consistently exemplified by their parents and their social environment. Within this framework of living together, which expands with increasing age and varies within each family in its rules and limits, they should have the option of making decisions and getting involved in everyday situations. “If children learn this principle at an early age and have internalised it by about the age of eight, a stable basis is created which also helps to reduce the number of discussions and problems during puberty,” Gebhardt knows.

Children also grow from conflicts

Despite all the pedagogically valuable recipes, however, annoying debates between the generations will not be absent. And that is okay, says Gebhardt: “Children also grow from conflicts if they are lived in such a way that a balance, a win-win situation is created in which the offspring see and respect their own limits as well as those of others. For stressful moments with the offspring, parents in particular advise them to keep calm, to simply endure annoying moments and to encounter them as far as possible with a good portion of humour, but never with irony.

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