When kids gain power by defying you, does your fuse get lit? Do you feel hurt, rejected, disrespected, or devalued and end up yelling?
If you go to anger when your child says “No”, you are not alone. A current private coaching client of mine wrote on her intake form, “I just don’t want to get angry anymore when she doesn’t listen.”
Here is the beginning transformation my client has gone through in just one month of private Zoom coaching tailored to her specific challenges. Mary is the mother of a strong-willed 7-year-old daughter. Her goal is to learn strategies to help her not get angry and end up yelling. Instead, she wants to learn how to handle conflict in a reasonable manner.
The first step to making changes is to clearly state what is going on. So Mary wrote down the “script” of an interaction with her daughter that ended up with both of them getting frustrated and the daughter yelling and crying. We used this event to learn what could have been done differently then and in the future.
In this experience, Mary’s trying to get her daughter to go potty before she goes to bed. (She’s had nighttime accidents.) She asks her husband to help when she’s at her wit’s end and doesn’t want to fight.
Regardless of this power struggle being different from your own, I believe you will see how the desire for power from both sides causes the conflict to continue rather than be resolved peacefully.
Event Dialogue of Daughter Refusing to Go Potty
Mom: You went potty two hours ago. In order for our bodies to stay healthy and safe, we must go potty before bed. Please go potty.
Child No! I don’t want to.
Mom: Would you like to go now or in 30 seconds?
Child: In 30 seconds and now get out of my room.
Mom: Please don’t talk to me like that
Child: Please get out of my room!
Mom: I came back 1 minute later. “Time to go potty.”
Child: I’m not going.
Mom: I went to my husband and told him to please take over.
Father said and did: It’s time to go potty.
Child: I’m not going! Mommy doesn’t listen.
Dad: Every time you tell me you don’t have to go potty, I say ok, and then you have an accident. If it has been a couple of hours, you have to try to go.
Child: I don’t need to go!
Dad: Go potty!
Child: Got a play stick and hit him with it.
Dad: He grabbed it and said, “I will throw it away if you don’t go potty.”
Child: Sat on the toilet and went potty immediately.
Dad: Wash your hands.
Child: I did!
Dad: No you didn’t
Child: I will go to bed. Get out of my room!
Dad: Lay down!
Child: I’m lying down! And crying
Dad: In bed! (Closed door)
Dad: He heard movement and came in and saw her out of her bed. “Go to bed!”
Child: I am.
Does your heart break when you read this? It’s a sad and frustrating way to end the evening. Perhaps you’ve experienced other situations where your child’s desire for power ended up in a divisive power struggle.
The second step we did was to analyze what goal her daughter is trying to achieve. In this situation, she’s trying to achieve Power through negative rebellion rather than through positive independence. When the parents kept using their power to control her, they blocked any emotional positive connection which is the best way to influence kids and win cooperation.
In her mind, the daughter lost the battle and the parents won. How do you think she feels about their lack of considering her thoughts and feelings? Is this interaction building a foundation for trust and sharing in the future?
Mary now understands why she reacted as she did and the downside of this power approach. She has learned a new viewpoint of these common conflicts and has learned how to connect and set up situations where she can gain power through positive independence rather than negative rebellion.
Rather than feeling angry and trying to “control” the anger, Mary simply doesn’t feel anger nearly as much as she had before. So the answer to my original question of do you manage anger or change anger, the answer is you change your thoughts so you don’t feel angry, and then you can interact rationally.
Mary reports that there are fewer conflicts and her daughter actually hugs her and tells her “I love you so much”, every morning as she leaves for school. These beautiful words, which every mom loves to hear, are new and so wondrous.
Are you ready to stop being angry or have too much conflict? Do you instead want to feel listened to, respected, and win cooperation? Your challenges are not a mystery to me. I’ve been successfully guiding parents for 29 years and I am eager to help you have a transformational experience just like Mary’s. You don’t have to struggle anymore. Contact me and say, “I’m ready to become happier.”
Don’t miss out on this fantastic opportunity to download “The 7 Most Common Phrases Parents Say That Stop Kids From Listening”! You’ll also receive my weekly emails where you will learn how to transform annoying conflict into loving cooperation in your home.
Cynthia is available for private coaching sessions so you can quickly get the answers you need and make those much need changes right away. Click HERE for a complimentary 45-minute Fast-Track Clarity Session to learn what you can do now to create more harmony in your home.
Copyright 2022 – Cynthia Klein, Family Happiness Expert – Coach, speaker, and author of Ally Parenting: A Non-Adversarial Approach to Transform Conflict Into Cooperation. Learn more about Cynthia’s services and contact her at her website, https://bridges2understanding.com. Contact Cynthia for permission to reproduce any information from this article.