Monday, April 13, 2009

ProActive Parenting Advice....

Sharon, the author and creator of ProActive parenting shared with me this article she wrote called "Power Struggles: Once it begins how do I stop it? ". She graciously has allowed me to post it up to share with all of you. I am very excited to read this one. I think my kids and I have power struggles throughout most of the week. I better get reading...

Go check it out. By reading this you will see that there are other ways to handle whining and become familiar with ProActive Parenting style.

Also don't forget about the wonderful ProActive Parenting Giveaway!


Power Struggles: Once it begins how do I stop it?

It can happen anywhere and at anytime. A child screams his demands and his parent feels overwhelmed, embarrassed or angry. Mom increases the intensity of her reaction because she knows what’s coming—a power struggle. Her son wants to be heard so he continues the negotiating and arguing. Now both parent and child are loudly trying to make their point and a power struggle has begun.

• Why doesn’t the arguing and negotiating stop when a parent says, “stop it now”?
The short answer is your child is still learning and your reaction is one of the things teaching him.

When a parent increases the intensity of her reaction to stop a power struggle it can scare a child. Toddlers and preschoolers tend to revert back to a slightly younger age when they are really emotional. A parent’s big reaction can push a wee one over the edge emotionally causing a power struggle to get bigger or morph right into a frightened tantrum.

The other thing that could happen is due to immature understanding; a young preschooler can view a parent’s reaction as a form of teaching. They may misinterpret your reaction as “Oh, so this is how you’re supposed to behave” and then they model your behavior right back at you.

• Warning
This idea is not intended to stop power struggles from ever happening again. Power struggles will come back again. It’s how children push the envelope so they can learn the boundaries in different situations. Power struggles happen because a child has hit the end of his rope verbally, physically or emotionally and isn’t mature enough to know how to handle his big feelings and express himself respectfully at the same time, not yet. So he uses arguing as his method of communication.

• How to drop your end of a power struggle
Since your child is young and learning from everything around him, you need to make the first change. How? Mom and dad can back out of the power struggle by going silent for 10-60 seconds. It’s that simple and that powerful. The silence is not to be used as a punishment and it shouldn’t go on for any longer than it takes for the parent to see the child calm a little bit. As long as the silence isn’t punitive it quickly becomes more powerful than the arguing. It sends the message, “I hear you and I’m no longer willing to argue with you.”

• Your first reaction after reading that may be, “doesn’t that mean I’m letting him get away with disrespectful behavior?” No, actually it’s quite the opposite.
Parental silence captures his attention and he thinks, “Uh oh, I’m in trouble.” And since he’s emotionally out of control your silence shows him that you’re calm and in control and he’s comforted by that. He also senses that pleading, negotiating and screaming has to stop now.

• You need to explain why you’ve gone silent or it will either confuse him or cause a bigger fuss.
Go silent for 10-60 seconds as soon as you realize you’re in a power struggle. THEN

Explain that you won’t be talking until he calms down. Notice the short preschool level statement. THEN Go silent again as he tries to re-engage you and he will. Repeating instructions is key as you do this tip. Repeat this process as many times as needed the first one-three times you try this.

So the next time you find yourself arguing with a 3 or 4 yr old—go silent for 10-60 seconds, take a few deep breaths and wait for your child to get calmer before you talk. Then follow your heart as you help him learn about your family’s rules and resolve the situation.

Sharon Silver is the founder and director of ProActive Parenting, a site offering downloadable seminars to help parents switch from punishment to discipline as they deal with everyday toddler and preschooler behavior.


Janet and Maya said...

Great really portrays many of my feelings and situations with my three year old. I've gone into silence occasionally, but I haven't done the explanation which is SO important.

Thank you!