Kids and Power struggles - Mothering Forums

Forum Jump: 
 
Thread Tools
Old 04-25-2003, 11:03 AM - Thread Starter
 
Rollermommy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 1,678
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I have a 5 yr old who, really is a good kid. But I've been having these issues lately with him being very disrespectful, mouthy, and defiant. For example, every time I ask him to do something--"Tristen, bring your plate to the sink please", "you bring the plate to the sink". "Tristen, its time to go to bed", "you go to bed". Ive tried all kinds of creative ways to get him to cooperate, but its more that he just has a really bad attitude about EVERYTHING! I think this stems from him feeling out of control. His dad is very controlling, and I think in order to feel powerful, Tristen acts defiantly. I am trying very hard not turn situations into power struggles but I don't think I'm doing a very good job of it--more or less just talking my head off trying to persuade him to cooperate. My question is how do I give him a sense of power and control over himself--I guess the word is empower--so he doesn't feel the need to be defiant?
Rollermommy is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
Old 04-25-2003, 12:10 PM
 
alexa07's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 251
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I am not big on "cooperation" Yeah, its great when it happens but to me kids just don't want to coopeate alot. All I know is that for many friends where "co-operation" is the goal, the parents are going crazy trying to make their kids "want" to do something.

In my house it's "Please take your plate to the sink". If they then say "no" or some other 'defiant" thing, I just say "I expect you to take your plate to the sink" and then I try to ignore the whole thing. Look, either they will or they won't. I'm not going to get into a power struggle over it.

Anything they say to me after that "no" (like "I'm too tired", "I don't want to") I just completely ignore. If they haven't done like I asked in a minute or two I will go and get the plate myself and say "I asked you to bring the plate, and you didn't. I don't like that." If they do bring it, even after the initial "no", I say "thank you sweetie". I don't even mention the initial defiance.

This works very well for us and for many of my freinds who have tried it when the much praised "co-operation" failed. Kids don't like to be told "I didn't like it when...." If they know that you aren't going to get into a power struggle with them, I find they are more likely to go along. Just don't expect them to be happy about it.
alexa07 is offline  
Old 04-25-2003, 12:14 PM
 
alexa07's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 251
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Also, I wanted to say that I guess I don't believe that kids are defiant just because they don't "feel empowered" I think kids are sometimes defiant at home just because they really want the power struggle and all the attention that comes with it. Once again, i urge in my posts a reading of "The secret of parenting" by Anthony Wolfe. He presents a really interesting thesis (and IMHO correct view) of why kids are defiant and why you dont' need to really worry about it.
alexa07 is offline  
Old 04-25-2003, 10:43 PM
 
geekmom's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Western Massachusetts
Posts: 246
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
If you're right about your ds feeling not in control then that's your first issue to solve.

As for him not being willing to do what you ask this is what I do. I generally just pick up the plate or whatever and then go on. At some point later my son always wants something, a story, to watch tv or whatever. At that point I just say, "I'm sorry, you didn't want to pick up your plate so I don't feel like doing such and such for you." As for the rude, I look at my son and gently say, "hon that's rude. I really don't want to listen to you when you're rude."

For my son, the biggest consequence is my not listening to him. When he deosn't listen to me I tell him I'm not interested in listening to him (I wait until he asks me to listen to him) and that works wonders. It's very gentle and said with a lot of respect and he then understands.
geekmom is offline  
Old 04-25-2003, 10:49 PM
 
alexa07's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 251
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I really disagree Geekmom. I am strict but I don't think kids learn anything from this other than "don't do things for people unless they do things for you." I am always willing to do things for my kids because I love them. If they have not done what they are supposed to I let them know that I am not especially happy about that, but I don't see any need to punish them for it.
alexa07 is offline  
Old 04-25-2003, 11:17 PM
 
mamaduck's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Posts: 6,596
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Have you read "Kids, Parents, and Power Struggles?" Great book. It talks about understanding and relating to what your child's "emotional language" -- rather than engaging in a power struggle. In other words -- interpreting and responding to what is *really* going on -- which I hear that you are trying to do. She also goes on to talk about children's personalities and relating to them as individuals.

At that age, I found it helpful to let my ds know ahead of time what the plan is -- not as a bribe, but to communicate to him that we do the things that need to get done in order to move on to the things we enjoy. If we don't do what we need to do -- then life sort of gets stuck or at least less enjoyable -- until we've finished the harder stuff. So, I say, "After you've cleaned up your plate then I was hoping we could play a board game together." (Only say this if you really were though. Whatever evening activity is next will do fine...) Or, "If you want to do such and such tomorrow -- then it would be good for you to get to bed on time...."

Again -- I know this sounds like threats and rewards -- it isn't actually. There is truth in the fact that life progresses through hard and fun things -- I try hard never to say, "IF you don't .... then I'm gonna...." Because this REALLY intensifies the power struggle. But it sounds very different if you say, "When this happens..... then that can happen...."

Does that makes sense?
mamaduck is offline  
Old 04-26-2003, 10:21 AM - Thread Starter
 
Rollermommy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 1,678
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
What I've started doing with the disrespectful mouthiness is say, "I don't like talking to/being around people to talk to me that way. When you decide your ready to have a better attitude, then we can talk/play". He seems to really respond to that, I think because he really enjoys our conversations and and me listening to what he has to say so to be cut off from that makes him realize that it's not ok to treat people disrespectfully. As least I assume that's the message I'm giving. I wouldn't let an adult treat me that way and I want him to know he shouldn't let people treat him that way. Sometimes I feel like its "bad attitude blackmail". Like--I'm going to be a sh#thead until you do what I want you to. His dad does that so its not surprising.
And I like the idea of "when you... then we can do .....". Last night he wouldn't bring his plate to the sink. I asked once and when he refused I said nothing. Then this morning everyone sat down to have breakfast and those who put their plates up got served. He said "hey, where's mine" and I said "I can't serve you breakfast if you still have your plate on the table from last night" So he put his plate in the sink and I served him breakfast--And without a bad attitude!!
And I do feel like he feels really out of control sometimes and that has a lot to do with his behavior. Still looking for good suggestions on that one. I'll have to check out that book, sounds like a good one. Thanks you guys for the good suggestions.
Rollermommy is offline  
Old 04-26-2003, 11:35 AM
 
becoming's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Louisiana
Posts: 11,592
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
It sounds like you've already found a solution to the defiance. In regards to him feeling out of control...I think it's very easy for young children to feel out of control in their world. Pretty much all of the "important" things are taken care of by a grown-up. That's why I believe that giving children chances to decide "grown-up" things once in a while is very, very important. Let me give you some examples that I am planning to do with my son when he is older.

-Every morning, I am going to lay out three outfits and let him choose which one he wants to wear. I will also let him help me decide what to wear myself, if he's interested in doing so.

-Twice a week, I am going to let him choose all by himself what we eat for supper. It can be anything as long as it's real food (not ice cream sundaes or anything like that). Every night, I'm going to let him help me decide what to make, but those two nights will be all his own.

-When we go to the grocery store, I am going to let him pick out three items that he wants. (Hopefully he will stick to the good things and not want junk; if that happens, I might have to revise this plan somehow.) And at Wal*Mart, he's going to get $5 to spend each time we go (and can choose to save up his Wal*Mart money to cash in on something bigger).

Those are just some examples of how you can involve your child in the "adult" issues that children sometimes feel left out of. I think letting a child choose for himself/herself whenever possible helps lessen that feeling of being out of control in their own life.

Let me know if it works for you!
becoming is offline  
Old 04-26-2003, 01:20 PM
 
mamaduck's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Posts: 6,596
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
What I've started doing with the disrespectful mouthiness is say, "I don't like talking to/being around people to talk to me that way. When you decide your ready to have a better attitude, then we can talk/play". He seems to really respond to that, I think because he really enjoys our conversations and and me listening to what he has to say so to be cut off from that makes him realize that it's not ok to treat people disrespectfully.
I think this is *really* good -- and I tend to do the same thing. It is true that you are a person too -- and in the long run helpful to HIM to recognize that, esp. if he is having some unhealthy stuff modelled to him by his dad. (don't they all? )

Another thing to keep in mind -- it is okay for him to have "the last word" sometimes. If he is doing what he needs to do, like clear up his plate, and he throws in a snotty comment while he is doing it -- it is okay to take the higher road and pretend you didn't hear it. In his mind -- this might be more about who is winning and less about what is true or right. I DON'T play that game with my kids. We are on the same team. So I either ignore the comment, or I validate the FEELINGS behind it -- "Yeah, I bet that sometimes it stinks to have a mom hanging over your shoulder all the time......" But I find that if I challenge it, then I am just taking the bait, KWIM? You can always go back later and say, "You know, why said such-and-such that really hurt my feelings because....."
mamaduck is offline  
Old 04-26-2003, 02:06 PM
 
cumulus's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Herland
Posts: 504
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
What I've started doing with the disrespectful mouthiness is say, "I don't like talking to/being around people to talk to me that way. When you decide your ready to have a better attitude, then we can talk/play.
I like this too and think of it as a "logical consequence." Talk disrespectfully to anyone and they're not going to want to be with you or do anything for you. Something children should learn perhaps - before they become teenagers.
cumulus is offline  
Old 04-26-2003, 09:50 PM
 
zombiemommie's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: NJ
Posts: 391
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Hey, not that it solves your problem at all, but don't forget he may be acting out a bit due to that new babe in the house, KWIM ?

I'm glad you're finding strategies that work for you. That "Kids...Power Struggle" book is really great. I got it last month and it really has some great stuff in there.
zombiemommie is offline  
Old 04-27-2003, 01:38 AM
 
bestjob's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Posts: 980
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Here is another endorsement for "Kids, Parents, and Power Struggles" because it is a great book that extends the idea of gentle discipline to include helping you and your child bond emotionally. Mary Sheedy Kurcinka often writes from the perspective of a parent who recognizes that certain rules need to be obeyed for everyone to be able to function together in a household but whose own emotions get in the way of helping children understand and enjoy the benefits of those rules.

mamaduck gave great examples of the sorts of things you can say to avoid a power struggle. One other thing I have noticed is that saying things kindly often averts a power struggle. "We will read stories when you have your pajamas on and your teeth brushed" can be said in a mean way with gritted teeth or in a pleasant, gentle way. If I am having a hard time avoiding the gritted teeth expression in my voice, I often sing the statement to my kids to disguise my stress. It works time and again to avert a fight. Often it is not what is asked of a child, but how it is asked that makes a difference.
bestjob is offline  
Old 04-27-2003, 05:54 PM
 
sparklemom's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: North Carolina
Posts: 674
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
kids, parents, and power struggles----excellent book!

addressing the emotions behind the actions is so key!!!!
sparklemom is offline  
Old 04-28-2003, 08:57 AM - Thread Starter
 
Rollermommy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 1,678
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Mamaduck, such wisdom. I always look forward to reading what you have to say. In my mind I picture you as this sage on a mountain top It's so hard letting them have the last word! Esspecially when the people who are "encouraging"me (dh, mil, mom) always tell me-- "Never ever let them win or they'll run all over you". But you're right.

And I'm sure some of the behavior stems from the new baby in the house. And I'm trying everyday to not let the things I have to do with her interfere with my relationship with the boys. Its really hard though. A lot of times it seems like they intentionally put me in the position of choosing between them or her just to see who I'm going to choose (or in their minds who do I love more). But I can't just lay her down and let her cry, KWIM? I need some way to explain to them why her needs a lot of times comes first. I can't just tell her, "Sorry honey, I know you need to nurse but I have to play baseball first."

I totally agree too, that the way you say things is soooo important. Same concept I think as the old saying--you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar. And I too do the singing trick when its hard to muster a nice voice. Also, because I tend to yell a lot, when I get the urge to scream something, I've been trying to whisper it instead. Don't ask me why, but they seem to hear me better when I whisper as opposed to yell. I guess because they have to really focus their attention on me to hear what I'm saying.

I have to get that book!!! I really would like some insight as to the emotions behind his behavior. To me, if I don't understand his emotions its like taking medicine to supress symptoms and not getting to the real cause of the illness.
Thanks again guys for all your motherly wisdom
Rollermommy is offline  
 
User Tag List

Thread Tools


Forum Jump: 

Posting Rules  
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are Off