Posts

One Way I (Effectively) Deal With Power Struggles At Bedtime

Number 6 and Number 7 share a room. And every night, we have the same routine at bedtime.

I read them a story, and then I lie down in their beds with them and sing them each two songs while I rub/scratch their backs.

Usually we do things in the same order.

I sit on Number 7’s bed to read the story. Next I sing and rub/scratch Number 7’s back. Then I go to Number 6’s bed and do the same for him.

Two nights ago, both of them were super tired. And when they are exhausted, that often results in drama.

So after we finished our story, Number 6 was lying on the floor and was too tired to get up off the floor.

I didn’t feel like dealing with an epic meltdown, so I picked him up and plopped him on his bed.

I dropped him (on purpose) so he bounced a little. He thought that was funny. He laughed.

I went to sing Number 7 her songs, and Number 6 started making super loud noises just to be a pain in the ass.

This annoyed the shit out of Number 7.

I said to Number 7, “Maybe I should sing to Number 6 first so he quiets down. Then I’ll sing to you.”

“NO!”  she said. “ME FIRST!!!”

(She was justified in her protest. I was only asking to sing to Number 6 to get him to shut the hell up, and I was reinforcing his annoying behavior. I didn’t realize this at the time, but I certainly see it now.)

ME FIRST!” yelled Number 6.

“NO. ME FIRST,” Number 7 yelled.

Ugh. I had gotten myself into a jam.

I found myself trying to reason with the two of them and come up with a solution, but they were not really being reasonable.

Then I pulled my head out of my ass.

I reminded myself that here I was again, attempting to negotiate with a headstrong, opinionated and exhausted five and six-year-old. Plus I remembered that my goal is not to solve their problems for them. It’s for them to come up with solutions together so I’m not constantly playing referee and breaking up arguments and fights.

It wasn’t going to end well if I came up with the solution. Someone would have a freak out and feel like they “lost.” And they’d be right.

So very calmly and quietly, I said to the two of them, “I’m confident you can come up with a solution you both agree on. If you can do that in less than ten minutes, I will come back into your rooms and sing your songs.”

And then I left the room and walked downstairs.

About 30 seconds later they both came down the stairs.

“We agree on a solution, Mom!” said Number 7.  “I’m going first!”

“Great!” I said.

“NO WE DIDN’T!” yelled Number 6. “Number 7 just came downstairs and said that!!!”

So I sent them back upstairs.

They came down two more times. Both times Number 7 said the same thing and so did Number 6.

I explained to Number 7 what agree meant.

They went back upstairs a third time. When they came down the fourth time, Number 7 said,  “Okay, Mom! We figured it out. Number 6 can go first tonight, and I’ll  go first tomorrow night.”

Number 7 was happy. Number 6 was happy. There was not a single freak out or screamfest.

“That is some good cooperating,” I told them.

We all walked upstairs, they climbed into their beds, I sang them their songs, and they went right to sleep.

Yes, it took them about ten minutes to work it out so they were up a few minutes later than I would have liked.

But if I had gone the old route, the one that comes naturally to many of us, the do-it-the-way-I-tell-you-to-or-you-will-never-get-a-song-or-use-technology-again route,  there definitely would have been meltdowns and hysterics. They would have been awake way more than ten minutes past their bedtime. And while I often just want to get them the f*ck into bed, I really don’t want them to be upset and all worked up before they go to sleep.

I want them to have a nice, peaceful, calm experience before they fall asleep.

So that mission was accomplished.

Plus, last night when it was time for bed Number 7 said, “Mommy, remember… Tonight I get the song first!”

There was no protesting by Number 6 because he had been part of the solution and decision making process the night before.

Tonight, in order to head off any problems at the pass, I’ll give them time to come up with a plan that they both agree on moving forward. It might go really smoothly. It might not. But the more opportunities I give them to figure this stuff out on their own, the more I’m helping them develop those characteristics I am hoping they possess when they are older.

The next time you find yourself approaching a power struggle or a refereeing scenario with your kids, keep this in mind.

Putting the decision making and the problem solving duties on the kids rather than on yourself doesn’t just take you out of the equation. It gives the kids some control over the things that are important to them, and it also helps them practice some of the valuable life skills we all hope they have by the time they leave the nest.

Plus it reduces your desire to gouge your own eyeballs out night after night.

And that’s definitely pretty high on the priority list for me as well.

 

Not Your Average T-shirts. Check ’em out.

please take  10 seconds to vote for me 🙂

top_mommy_blogs_signature_banner

Could You Go 24 Hours Without Saying No To Your Kids?

Gymboree Sale On Now!

How many times do you think you say NO to your kids every day?

Five times? Twenty times? A hundred times?

I bet if I kept track, it would be in the triple digits. Easily.

Sometimes I say no to them before they can even finish a complete sentence.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot.

Because Number 6 is giving me a serious run for my money lately.

He’s super defiant, and I find myself embroiled in power struggles with him way more often than I’d like to be.

I’ve been trying to pinpoint the source of the issues I’ve been having with him. I believe there are a few main reasons he’s such a challenge right now.

And one of them isn’t that he’s being a tool.

It’s the way I’m talking to him.

I tried to be very conscious of this yesterday. I paid attention to our interactions.

Mommy, can I ride in the car without a booster seat?

NO.

Mommy, can I have some orange juice?

NO.

Mommy, can I have two granola bars?

NO.

Mommy, can I play on the iPad?

NO.

Mommy, can I stay home instead of going to the Y?

NO.

Mommy, can I have one of those juice boxes?

NO.

Mommy, can I –

NO.

Yikes.

These are just a few of the times I said no to Number 6 yesterday.

Forget about all the rest of my kids.

Between all of them, I very, very easily say no hundreds of times a day.

So when I ask my kids to do something, or, more accurately, when I tell them to do something and they automatically say no, why am I surprised?

I mean, it only takes one time for you to let a shit! or a fuck! slip out for your kids to memorize that word and use it at every embarrassing and inopportune time possible.

So what are we to expect when they hear us saying no hundreds of times a day?

I have become what Positive Discipline would refer to as a no monster.

I am no-ing my kids to death.

And that immediately builds the foundation for a power struggle. And power struggles are exhausting and infuriating.

Obviously we can’t say yes to every single question our kids ask.  We need to set limits and boundaries.

But how can that be done without saying no?

Well, I am going to focus on the following three things:

First, I’m going to do my best to stop with the demands. 

I’m getting better at this.

What do you need to do to be ready to get on the bus? has been MUCH more effective for me than progressing from:

Go get your shoes.

to

I said go get your shoes!

to

Didn’t I just ask you to get your shoes?

to

Why are your shoes still not on?

to

HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO ASK YOU TO GET YOUR SHOES???

Next, I’m going to try really, REALLY hard to ask questions that can’t be answered with yes or no. Those just invite the power struggles.

Instead of Can you help me bring something in from the car?

I’m going to try something more along the lines of What do you want to carry inside? Your swim bag or a bag of groceries?

That gives Number 6 a choice so he has some control and it also gives hime an opportunity to make decisions.

Finally, I’m giving myself this challenge. I’m going to try not to say no for a whole day.

Yep. For a whole day.

I will find a way to either give him choices, or to say yes.

Before you lose your shit about the saying yes thing, hold on.

First, as far as the choices go, instead of saying “Get ready to go to practice” I’m going to try:

“It’s time to get ready to leave. What do you want to do first? Pack your swim bag or eat your snack?”

When it’s time to get out of the car, (one of the things that drives me f&%$ing insane because he takes like five million years to get out) rather than barking, “Hurry up and get out of the car!!!!”

I’m going to try, “How many seconds do you think it’s going to take you to get from the car to the front door?”

We’ll see if we can make it fun instead of turning it into a battle.

Now back to that saying yes thing. I don’t mean I’m just going to give up and let the kids do whatever the hell they want.

When I tell Number 6 it’s time to get ready for bed and he says,  “NO! I DON’T WANT TO GO TO BED!”

I’m going to try “Yes, I can understand you want to stay up, but it’s time for bed! Now what do you want to do first? Brush your teeth or put your pajamas on?”

That’s a whole lot different than saying, “GO UPSTAIRS AND GO TO BED.”

If your kids are giving you a hard time in the defiance department, take a look at how you are talking to them.

How many times do you say no to them every day? It might be more than you think!  You might be unknowingly inviting the responses and behavior.

If you find you are in the same boat as me, maybe you can take the just say no to saying no challenge with me.

Think you can make it through a whole day without saying no?

I don’t know if I can, but for my sake and Number 6’s sake, I’m sure gonna try.

 

 

Gymboree Sale On Now!

 

please take  10 seconds to vote for me 🙂

top_mommy_blogs_signature_banner

If Power Struggles With Your Kids Are Making You Want To Rip Your Hair Out, You Should Totally Read This

If you guys have issues with your kids and power struggles, I have a little story to share with you.

But first, let’s just talk about this for a second.

Power struggles suck.

They are exhausting and infuriating.

What we may not realize, though, is that our kids aren’t creating this problem.

We do it to ourselves!

I know we don’t mean to do it.  And I know many of us don’t even realize when we are doing it.

But over the last few months, I have been realizing how many power struggles I engage in on a daily basis.

They happen multiple times a day.

It may be something like this:

Me: The bus will be here soon. Go brush your teeth.

*kid doesn’t go brush teeth*

Me: Go brush your teeth!

*kid doesn’t go brush teeth*

Me: GO BRUSH YOUR TEETH.

*kid still doesn’t go brush teeth*

Me: HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO ASK YOU TO GO BRUSH YOUR TEETH!!!!!

*kid still doesn’t go brush teeth*

Now you are fuming, and your kid isn’t moving.

Me: IF YOU DO NOT GO UPSTAIRS RIGHT NOW AND BRUSH YOUR TEETH, YOU WILL NOT WATCH TELEVISION FOR ONE WEEK/USE THE IPAD/GO TO YOUR FRIEND’S HOUSE/WHATEVER..

At this point your kid may go brush her teeth. Or it may take a couple more massive threats.

Eventually, chances are they go brush their f*cking teeth.

But you are pissed, it took you five or ten minutes to get the the actual teeth brushing, you have lost your patience and you have already partially emotionally drained yourself and it’s only 8:00 in the morning.

You are glad you won’t have to engage in the teeth brushing games for another twelve hours.

Ugh!

We find ourselves in these situations over and over again.

If it’s not the teeth brushing, it’s getting dressed. Or it’s picking up toys. Or it’s putting away laundry. Or it’s packing up the swim bag. Or it’s…

The list could go on forever.

Ultimately the most frustrating thing is that no matter what you say, no matter how many things you threaten to take away, no matter how loud you yell,

nothing changes.

Our kids never get it.

And then we find ourselves in that definition of insanity.

Doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results.

These power struggles always lead to the same things.

Resistance, rebellion, or approval junkie compliance.

That’s not what we ultimately want, though.

We sure as hell don’t want our kids putting up a fight every time we ask them to do something, but we also don’t want them to only feel good about themselves when we are praising them for following orders.

So how can we do it differently?

I told you I had a story…

I have come a long way in the morning with regard to these power struggles.

They actually aren’t much of a problem any more.

That’s due partially to getting more organized and prepared the night before to cut down on chaos.

And it’s also largely due to the fact that I have started communicating differently with my kids.

But sometimes I forget.

Actually, I still forget a lot.

Luckily, I  had just come back from a Positive Discipline certification course, and everything was fresh in my head yesterday morning when we weren’t quite as organized as normal.

Since I hadn’t been here on Monday and Tuesday, our routine was a little bit messed up. I also got sick, which didn’t help either.

The laundry had piled up a little bit, Number 7 didn’t have her outfit for the next day picked out the night before, and things kind of snowballed from there.

So yesterday morning, things were not running like a well-oiled machine, and that’s when Number 7, who is five-years-old, had one of her moments.

I am now realizing that her “moments” aren’t always her just trying to kill me with girl drama. They almost always make an appearance when I have (unconsciously) engaged in a power struggle with her.

(It’s funny — not haha funny but more like annoying funny — how you don’t realize it when it is happening. I had this a-ha moment regarding Number 7 when I was at the conference on Monday and Tuesday).

So anyway, Number 7 had a freak out over what she was going to wear about five minutes before the bus was going to be here yesterday.

I did not want to lose my shit.

I did not want to hand out any empty threats.

I did not want to say anything I would later regret.

I did not want to engage her in a power struggle.

(And I am fortunate to be in the position where I don’t have to be at work as soon as the kids get on the bus, so that gives me more options when handling these situations than parents who have to be at work at a certain time).

So rather than freak out, I told her I had to get Number 5 and 6 on the bus, and I couldn’t help her find clothes five minutes before the bus was coming.

She got pissed. She started screaming. She told me she wasn’t going to go to school. She told me I was the worst mom ever.

I told her I would be happy to talk to her when she was calm, but that right now, when she was screaming at me, I was going to walk away.

And I walked outside with Number 5 and 6.

Number 7 continued to lose her shit. She followed me out the door in her pajamas. I walked to the driveway with Number 5 and 6. Number 7 stood by the front door screaming.

Until she saw the bus coming.

Then she ran inside because she didn’t want anyone on her bus to see her. (I knew that would get her back inside).

After Number 5 and 6 got on the bus, I walked back inside. Number 7 was sharpening pencils.

“I’m not going to school because you won’t help me pick out my clothes,” she quietly said to me.

I asked her if she would like some help.

She silently nodded her head, yes.

We went to her room, found some acceptable clothes, and she quickly (and happily) got dressed.

After she was dressed, we went down to the kitchen, which is our normal routine.

She sat down on a stool while I brushed her hair and put it into a ponytail.

She was calm and it was a good time to  talk to her.

“What do you think we can do so we don’t end up in this same situation tomorrow?” I asked Number 7.

She just shrugged.

“I don’t know,” she said.

I offered her some suggestions.

“Well, you could go to school in your pajamas. Then we wouldn’t have to worry about what clothes you were going to wear,” I told her.

“MOMMY! I CAN’T GO TO SCHOOL IN MY PAJAMAS!!!” she laughed.

I gave her a second.

“Ummmm… we could pick out my clothes for school tomorrow tonight!” she said to me.

“That sounds like a good plan,” I told her.

Then I gave her a hug, she put on her jacket, and I drove her to school.

There was no yelling, there was no shit being lost, and I hadn’t said anything I regretted. Even better, rather than getting into an epic battle, Number 7 and I calmly came up with a solution to the problem.

And that’s what we really want, isn’t it? A solution? So our kids do this stuff independently?

So what happened this morning? Did things go more smoothly?

I was a little worried.

Because last night by the time I got home from practice, it was after 8:30, and Number 6 and 7 were already in bed.

Shit! I hadn’t told my husband about our morning or the agreement Number 7 and I came up with.

But it didn’t matter…

This morning Number 7 woke up and walked downstairs. I was in the kitchen getting breakfast ready.

She sat down at the counter, looked right at me, and said, “Mommy, you don’t have to worry.  Guess what? I picked out all my clothes for school today already, and I know exactly what I’m going to wear!”

I almost started crying.

Why hadn’t I realized this sooner? By changing the way I dealt with the situation, the outcome was completely different.

All these times I’ve been engaging in power struggles with Number 7. We’ve both been getting upset. She’s been exhausted, and I’ve been exhausted. She’s been angry. I’ve been angry.

That’s no way to start a day.

And it’s not the way every day starts. In fact, most run fairly smoothly.

But who ever wants to start a day that way?

I don’t! And I sure has hell don’t want to put my little five-year-old on the bus like that  in the morning either.

Ever!

So I share this story because many of us wrestle with these power struggles so often, and we don’t realize that we are basically banging our heads against a wall.

By engaging in them, we aren’t teaching our kids to do the things we want them to do. We aren’t involving them in the process. We aren’t helping them to take responsibility.

We are just creating more chaos, and less independence and proactivity — the total opposite of what we really want!

If you find yourself in these types of situations often, I encourage you to take a look at your contribution to these struggles.

And then what do you do?

1) Involve your kids in coming up with routines. Ask them what they need to do to be ready for school in the morning/go to practice/get ready for bed.

2) Ask “curiosity questions” rather than barking orders. What do you need to do to be ready for school? What do you need to do next from your routine chart? This helps your child to start thinking for him/herself.

3) Give limited choices. “Do you want to wear your pink pants or your gray pants?” Your child now has some control over decisions that affect her.

4)Use humor when  you can!

5) Give your child  (and yourself) time to calm down before trying to come up with a solution to a problem. Nobody can make rational or logical decisions when they are in freakout mode.

6) Give hugs! Sometimes a freaked out kid (and adult) just wants some comfort!

I can tell you first-hand that these things work. They may not work in every situation for every child, but fortunately there are lots of other strategies you can use in these situations to avoid power struggles and avoid wanting to gouge your own eyeballs out or start drinking before noon every day.

If you are looking for help in specific situation, I STRONGLY recommend this book. It’s full of useful suggestions you can implement immediately for almost any challenging situation or behavior will encounter with your children. I have it, I refer to it often, and I love it.

Stay tuned for more tips, more examples of how this works in real life with my kids, and most importantly, try to stay positive!

XOXO~

Susie

Check out this set and and tons of other cute stuff out at Betsy Boo’s Boutique — my fave place to shop online!

please take  10 seconds to vote for me 🙂

top_mommy_blogs_signature_banner