Power Struggles - When Your Child Is Controlling You

Dec 04, 2023

Do you have a child who is really good at pushing your buttons and getting a reaction from you?  They might be the type that gets easily frustrated, which has you walking on eggshells or bending over backward to support and make things okay for them — or maybe they’re strong willed and prefer to do things their way.

Power struggles happen with all different types of kids at all different ages.

I had one parent tell me that their 3-year-old daughter would make sure her parents were watching and then start to climb up on the table, even though she had been told many times that it was dangerous and she was not allowed to stand on the table.

I had a Dad tell me that his 7-year-old son would say things to “taunt” him, telling his Dad “I  don’t want to” when asked why he wasn’t doing the things he was supposed to do.

I’m working with the Mom of a 15-year-old who reacts negatively whenever she is told “no”.  The whole family is affected by her outbursts so they go out of their way to not set her off.

These parents are not alone.  Most parents I work with want to know why their kids do or say things when they know they will get a negative reaction to it, so I shared 4 of the reasons why kids push your buttons in last week’s article.

And yes, knowing why is helpful, but I really want parents to realize this:

When your kids push your buttons and you react, your child is controlling you.

In other words, when you find yourself in a power struggle with your kids and you react in anger or frustration — you’ve already lost.  You gave them the power to control your feelings, your mood, and your reaction.  

But you can take your power back, and I highly recommend that you do!

The first step to taking back control is to identify the patterns and figuring out where you’re giving your child power and control over you.

When does your child change your mood?
When do you react out of anger or frustration?

The second step is to figure out what is going through your mind at those moments.  If you’re like most of the parents I work with, it’s likely something like this behavior is unacceptable or they’re being so disrespectful.  If it’s been happening for a while, it may even be here we go again.  Even if that thought is true and justified, recognize that if it escalates YOU, it’s not helpful.   

The third step is to decide in advance that you’re going to think a different thought.  Come up with a more helpful thought, write it down, and practice it.  It might be some version of this:  I refuse to react because I’m no longer giving up my power and control.

When we are in power struggles with our kids, we can assert ourselves as having more power by having the bigger reaction — but in reality it’s the opposite because you have more power and control when you don’t react.

This is a very real issue for MANY parents and in full transparency it was an issue for me for a very long time, so there is no shame or blame if this is something that you struggle with.  I got help to work through this, and it made such an impact that I’ve made it my mission to help other parents.

I’m going to be teaching more in-depth strategies and exact scripts to take back your power and control and better manage yourself when your kids (and your relatives!) push your buttons inside the Confident Parenting Club this month and I’m running a holiday special.  Get one month free and learn the tools you need to survive and thrive this holiday season with code HOLIDAY! 

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