Power Struggles with the 3 year old…
Not all the tips work all the time. Kids change, we change. Moods are altered based on our sleep, support system, eating habits and more. Nothing will work always all the time. Except one thing, your love and patience.That is why is it best for us to keep reading and finding new information and new ‘tools for our toolbelt’ to use when we need to use them.
I’ve heard the words, “avoid power struggles” and I think it is better to say that you can’t avoid them, you can, however, diffuse them. We are the adults and they are the children. When kids act like 3 year olds, we need to make sure we don’t act like 3 years old too. You won't avoid emotional breakdowns, that is their age appropriate response. What we CAN control is our reactions, our own atmosphere. That is where the power struggles can end, with us.We have the ability to change their moods based on how we react to them. Don’t let the little 3 year old change your mood based on how they act. You can be the atmosphere that helps create the environment of peace and joy.
I find validating feeling at this age is super important and helps a lot when they have their ‘moments.’ They are brand new to this world and are learning every day from us. From how we treat other and ourselves as well. Don’t allow them to manipulate you into a power struggle for sure. Everytime! There is time enough for reasoning, discussions and arguments when they are a bit older and start to develop reasoning skills.Discussions and disagreements can be healthy for sure. and sometimes it’s absolutely in a parents right to say NO! Especially when it’s a safety issue. Diffusing power struggles means not getting involved into an argument that makes no senses and gets everyone upset. It’s feeding their desire to engage with you in whatever way that is,even if you're mad.
For example if your child is wanting to climb something unsafe and they begin to argue or whine about it. Don’t engage with reasoning with them. They are too young to talk them out of it. That is the beginning of a power struggle. Instead you say simple statement that make sense. “It’s too high, we can play somewhere else.” “It’s dangerous, choose another activity.” If they don't’ listen, you are in your right as a parent to gently pick them up and move them to another location to play. If they continue to run back again and again. You simple say, “We need to leave the park if you continue to run back to here.” And then FOLLOW THROUGH!
If you make statement about a choice you made, following through will build trust and a bond between you and your child. Let them cry as you gently pick them up and leave. It’s ok to follow through and be the adult. Trust your own parenting style and your own heart.
I tend to use a lot of humour with my youngest. I pretend I am a robot and tell him if he doesn’t comply, we will program our circuit to go home, Humour tends to make him laugh and forget about his mini power struggle he wanted to have. But I know my child and my own parenting style. Trust yourself and keep reading articles. Some work, some don’t and often only some of the time. SO change it up. It’s ok to change it up.