Power struggles can be avoided by using the gentleness of the sun rather than the power of the wind.
If your child feels that you are trying to control them; that you are not on their side, then the power struggle begins. Each person needs power. We can choose either a soft power approach or a hard power approach to meet needs. When your perspective is how can I help my child meet their developmental needs and my own simultaneously? you are then walking by their side rather than pushing against them. Your son or daughter will soon feel your love and support and want to cooperate.
Aesop’s fable The North Wind and the Sun illustrates these two approaches and contrasts their effectiveness.
The North Wind boasted of great strength. The Sun argued that there is strength in gentleness.
“We shall have a contest,” said the Sun. Far below, a man traveled a winding road. He was wearing a warm winter coat.
“As a test of strength” said the Sun, “Let us see which of us can take the coat off the man.”
“It will be quite simple for me to force him to remove his coat,” bragged the Wind.
The Wind blew so hard that the birds clung to the trees. The world was filled with dust and leaves. But the harder the wind blew down the road, the tighter the shivering man clung to his coat.
Then, the Sun came out from behind a cloud. She warmed the air and the frosty ground.
The man on the road unbuttoned his coat. The Sun grew slowly brighter and brighter. Soon the man felt so hot, he took off his coat and sat down in a shady spot.
“How did you do that?” said the wind.
“It was easy,” said the Sun. “I lit the day. Through gentleness I got my way.”
When a power struggle is brewing, consider this fable and choose the path of the Sun. Look for ways to build cooperation through win/win thinking. This approach involves give-and-take fueled with mutual respect.
Cynthia Klein has been a Certified Parent Educator since 1994. She works with dads, moms and organizations who want more cooperation, mutual respect and understanding between parents and children of all ages. Cynthia presents her expertise through speaking, webinars, and private parent coaching sessions. She is a member of the National Speakers Association. Contact Cynthia at bridges 2 understanding, bridges2understa.wpstagecoach.com or call 650. 341.0779.