Expert Parenting Advice
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It is never just about the lollipop

How to avoid power struggles by helping your kids feel seen and heard.

Earlier tonight, my 4-year-old daughter decided she wanted a lollipop before dinner.

"No, you can have it after dinner," I told her.

"GIVE ME THE LOLLIPOP NOW!" she commanded.

I refused again. She of course did not like that.

So she moved on to her next trick.

"THEN I'LL THROW ALL THE BOOKS ON THE GROUND!" she shouted, starting to throw books from the shelf.

The thing is, once you get into a power struggle with your child, it is difficult to get out of it. You don't want to give in, and they don't want to give in.

So how do you avoid power struggles?

The key to avoiding power struggles with your children is to change your mindset to see your child's viewpoint as just as important as yours. We parents often have this mentality of "I am the parent, so my child should just comply!"

But this mindset is what leads to power struggles.

It leads to your children feeling powerless, and then pushing back against you in order to feel power.

Now, valuing your child's viewpoint does not mean that you give them everything they want. All it means is that you show them that you see them, hear them, and value them.

In my case, what I should have done differently with my daughter tonight was to ask her about her lollipop. Instead of just telling her NO, and then not being willing to budge, I should have asked her why she wanted her lollipop right now.

Because after she had calmed down, I spoke to her about it, and she told me that she wanted her lollipop because her brother had already had his lollipop earlier. She was feeling left out and she felt it was unfair.

It is never just about the lollipop.

Sandi Schwartz is an ex-teacher with more than 50 years of experience working with children in education. When I interviewed her and her daughter Melissa, who are both currently parenting coaches and authors, she said:

That often creates a power struggle. Parents just want the kids to listen because the parent has worked hard, is exhausted, got healthy food, made a good dinner, and “the least you could do is come over to the table when I tell you to!”

But we want to get away from that thinking and emotional hysteria, which makes us yell at them, and realize that in order for them to be more cooperative, they need to be seen and heard first. That will make them cooperative.

Sandi Schwartz

Once you start valuing your child's viewpoint as much as your own, it becomes easier to cooperate with them. Once they see that you care about what they want, they become more likely to care about what you want.

In my interview with Sandi and Melissa, Sandi shares how to help your kids feel seen and heard to avoid power struggles, as well as a simple "One Minute Miracle" technique to get kids to do what you need them to do, while also showing them that you care about what they want to do.

You can find the full interview with Sandi and Melissa Schwartz: The "One Minute Miracle" technique to get kids to cooperate without fighting - in our ebook How To Get Kids To Listen, available for free download here.