Shift the Power Struggle Paradigm

little girl in a power struggle

The key to avoiding power struggles in the first place is to remember two very simple but important sentences:

We can’t control another person. All we can control is ourselves and the environment.”

On the surface, this seems obvious, but it’s terrifically challenging in practice. Deep down, we really do want to “control” our kids and even our spouse. “If they would just do what I want them to do, things would go so much more smoothly around here!”

But, think about it, we are all hard-wired with a need for free will or personal power. We can’t “make” our kids sleep 10 hours, eat broccoli or study for science. Try as we might – these things are in “their” control, not ours.

We can’t make our spouse turn off lights, wipe out the sink or want to have more sex. These things are in his or her control, not ours. When we try to impose our will on another person – boom – we have a power struggle.

No one wants to be told what to do, when or how to do it. It is a recipe for a battle. The minute we begin ordering, correcting and directing our kids or our spouse, the fight or flight response kicks in. In most cases, they don’t flee – so they fight back. It’s human nature.

To avoid power struggles with the ones we love, we have to get our brain around the idea that we can’t control another person. But the good news is that we can control ourselves – how we respond to whining, back talk, tantrums, not listening, etc. We can decide to participate in the power struggle or disengage.

And, we can control the environment with improved routines, natural and logical consequences and training.

Action Item: I encourage you to look at the power struggles in your relationships and ask yourself…”Am I trying to be in control?” If you frequently have power struggles with those you love, look first at yourself.

I’m not suggesting the power struggle paradigm shift is easy, but it is absolutely necessary to avoid power struggles and encourage cooperation and open communication with the ones you love. Positive Parenting Solutions Online is here to help.

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About the Author

Amy McCready
Nationally recognized parenting expert Amy McCready is the Founder of Positive Parenting Solutions® and the best-selling author of The “Me, Me, Me” Epidemic - A Step-by-Step Guide to Raising Capable, Grateful Kids in an Over-Entitled World and If I Have to Tell You One More Time…The Revolutionary Program That Gets Your Kids to Listen Without Nagging, Reminding or Yelling. As a “recovering yeller” and a Certified Positive Discipline Instructor, Amy is a champion of positive parenting techniques for happier families and well-behaved kids. Amy is a TODAY Show contributor and has been featured on The Doctors, CBS This Morning, CNN, Fox & Friends, MSNBC, Rachael Ray, Steve Harvey & others. In her most important role, she is the proud mom of two amazing young men.