Number 6 is currently my most challenging child.
He is defiant, and he says no, and in a power struggle, he often comes out on top.
It’s easy to get sucked into a power struggle without realizing it’s even happened.
It took a number of them over the last couple days to snap me out of it.
Yesterday morning, I was beyond frustrated.
We had had many, many exchanges like this recently:
Me: Number 6, go put your clothes away.
Number 6: No.
Me: Number 6, if you don’t go put your clothes away, blah blah blah blah blah (insert empty threat and increasingly louder volume).
After about the fifteenth exchange like this yesterday morning, it finally dawned on me.
Number 6 came into the house with a brick from outside. There are a bunch of them right outside the house because my husband is fixing the front porch.
He was walking around barefoot and in his pajamas, holding the brick up over his head saying, Mommy! Look what I have! It’s a brick! It has cement on it! I’m going to build something with it!
The first thought I had was Get that thing out of here! And be careful! If you drop it, you are going to break your toes!!!
But I caught myself.
I knew what his response would be if that was how I addressed the brick-inside-the-house-issue.
So I gathered my thoughts, and I reminded myself. Don’t be a telling parent.
And then I approached the situation this way.
Me: What are you wearing on your feet?
Number 6: Nothing.
Me: What do you think could happen if you drop that brick?
Number 6: It will break?
Me: Yes, that might happen. What else do you think could happen?
Number 6: I could hurt my foot?
Me: Yeah. That wouldn’t feel too good. What should you do if you want to carry that brick around?
Number 6: Put on my shoes?
Me: That would be a great idea. And is the brick an inside thing, or an outside thing?
Number 6: It’s an outside thing. I’m gonna go put it outside now, Mommy.
Bam! Just like that!
No power struggle. No loud voices. No yelling. No humiliating or shaming, no exasperation, and no meltdowns.
But Number 6 was empowered, and I was not losing my shit.
This is your daily power struggle reminder. This approach can be difficult to remember in the moment, but it is so much more peaceful and so much more effective than barking (completely ignored) orders at your kids!
The next time you find yourself heading down the power struggle highway, pause, take a breath, and ask some curiosity questions instead.
It’s amazing how well they work!