Kids & Company Blog

Determining if you are in a Power Contest

Part 2 of Michelle's Reflections on Alyson Schafer's Presentation - Determining if you are in a Power Contest

Recently, I wrote about power contests between parents and children. In her talk at the Kids & Company Parenting Conference, Alyson Schafer suggested that over time, we can’t “make” kids do what we want. Instead, we should drop the rope in our power battles and work toward getting kids to want to cooperate with us. This is where you pause to laugh heartily. But, I will swear on my beloved iphone that this is possible.

The first step to dropping the rope is the “D” in the D. R. O. P acronym. “D” is for Determining if you are in a power contest. How do you know if you are in a power contest with your child? Here are some simple questions to ask yourself.

• Are you feeling angry, challenged or defeated? • Is the situation with you child escalating quickly?

As a parent, you are used probably used to feeling a bit irritated. Do you notice that is progressing quickly to feeling fed up and angry? Has the situation increased in intensity rapidly? Some parents don’t react in anger but feel instantly overwhelmed and exhausted when the same conflict happens over and over again. When these feelings flood over you, it’s good indication that you’re in the middle of a power contest.

When one of my sons is getting ready to take me on, I’ve noticed he’ll take a deep breath, stand up and puff out his chest, just as if he were a cornered animal getting ready to fight to the death. He’s seven and this should be funny, but in the moment, it feels like a challenge. In the past, I have tensed up and put on my mental armor too. Suddenly, a quick exchange about playing hockey in the backyard has become a mash of tears, yelling and lost privileges. Not my best parenting moment.

So, the first step to avoiding a power contest is to recognize it as soon as it starts to develop. Awareness is key. In my next blog posting, we’ll talk about the reassessing the situation, and avoiding the power dance exactly the way you’d step around something yucky on the sidewalk.