Tips to stop repeated power struggles with children

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Tips to stop repeated power struggles with children

Parents often get in repeated power struggles with their child and they wonder what they can do to stop it from happening again. I think the first step is to take time, not during the struggle, but when you have a few minutes to think about it. Ideally, to think about it with another adult. You might look at a situation such as a child who struggles at brushing their teeth in the evening. There could be a number of factors contributing to this. Maybe the child is tired. Maybe you are asking them to do something that they are not developmentally capable of yet, which is to go off into the bathroom by themselves and brush on their own. Depending on what's going on, you might find a solution that is more or less effective. For example, if you are asking too much, you might try going into the bathroom with your child and being right there and having that presence might be enough to help him get through that experience. If they are too tired and it's hard to go and brush once they get to a certain level of being tired. Maybe having them brush right after dinner, rather than waiting until right before bedtime. One of the most important things about power struggles is to avoid the escalation that can happen when the parent is not getting what they are looking for, and the child is getting more and more pressured. A lot of times, parents will throw in consequences. This serves to agitate the child more, and draw out the whole power struggle. If you have to have consequence, wait until you are calm and your child is calm, but you don't want to fan the flames of an intense conflict.

View John Grienenberger, PhD's video on Tips to stop repeated power struggles with children...


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John Grienenberger, PhD

Family Psychologist

John Grienenberger, PhD, is a psychologist, attachment researcher, and Co-Executive Director of the non-profit Center for Reflective Communities in Los Angeles. He is also a Founder, Executive Director and Clinical Director of Community West, a psychological treatment center for adolescents and young adults in Los Angeles. He has extensive experience in family work, and has trained hundreds of therapists in his mentalization-based approach to working with families. He has authored numerous papers, presentations, and training programs in the areas of psychotherapy, attachment, mentalization, and parenting, and has conducted trainings and presentations both nationally and internationally. He has a part-time private practice in West Los Angeles conducting psychological and psychoeducational testing as well as providing psychotherapy to children, adults, families, and couples. Along with spending time with his children, John also enjoys backpacking, snowboarding, hiking, and mountain biking.


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