When our children are challenging us or misbehaving they are often expressing a need for attention, connection or power. When we become aware of the need driving their behaviour and meet that need in another way, they no longer have the need to misbehave. We can implement simple strategies easily into our day to day routines.

Today we are going to focus on the need for power. Power plays a huge role in the development of our children’s confidence. It often plays out in ways that may not serve them or ourselves without us even realising it. Understanding the power structure in your home and how to set it up effectively will have a huge impact on everyone’s happiness, relationships and confidence.

What does the power structure look like in your home? Who holds the power and when?
In our homes, the need for power plays a role between all members of the family.

A few quick questions to build awareness of the power structure in your home:

  1. Ask your children when they feel powerful. When do they feel powerless? It doesn’t matter if they don’t really know, keep asking. Our aim is to get them thinking about it and to develop their awareness of their sense of power. Notice when you see they feel powerful and draw their attention to the feeling by asking them how they are feeling at that moment.
  2. When do you feel powerful? When do you feel powerless?
  3. As you go through your day, notice with each interaction you have with another person, ask yourself on a scale of 1-10 (10 being very powerful) how powerful do you feel? How powerful do you think they feel?

Some scenarios where power is played out in ways that may not serve us:

  • When we are continually telling our children what to do – we have the power they don’t
  • Sometimes when we teach them – we have power and they don’t
  • Our children frustrate us and we shout – our children have the power and we don’t
  • We want our children to behave or achieve in a certain way and get upset if they don’t – they have the power and we don’t
  • When we speak to our children lovingly, how big do they seem? Sometimes when we talk to them lovingly they may get a sense that they are small – they may not feel powerful
  • When they do something that we don’t like and we choose to say nothing – they have power and we don’t
  • When we know something isn’t working and we continue to handle it in the same way – they have power and we don’t

The aim is to set up communication so that both parties in each interaction feel powerful. One does not necessarily need to be more powerful than the other. Empowering our children builds their confidence and when they are making decisions based on what they think and not what we are telling them this develops their internal motivation and their ability to make good choices.

Tips to give your children power

  1. Ask them what they think rather than tell them
  2. Talk to them with a feeling in yourself that you see them as big and resourceful
  3. Encourage them to try new things and be there for them when they fail without judgement
  4. Allow them to express their opinions – don’t make them wrong if you disagree. Let them test out their opinion to see if it works
  5. Allow them to take responsibility for themselves, e.g. they are responsible for how they feel, they are responsible for how they dress, etc.
  6. Allow them to make their own choices

There are obviously times where we as parents have to make the decisions. Start to notice or create opportunities where if they can make the decision without seriously, negatively impacting you or them.

Tips for our own power as parents

  1. When we feel like we want to react to our children’s behaviour. Pause, ask yourself, what will you get if their behaviour changes? How can you get this even if their behaviour continues? Give this to yourself. Sometimes we react based on the day we are having or what we have to do, which has nothing to do with our children’s behaviour
  2. Set clear boundaries of what is acceptable for you and be consistent…even if at that moment you are having a good time
  3. Always be true to how you feel, even when it is uncomfortable
  4. Notice when your children’s plans dictate your schedule rather than your own. Ensure your schedule is not always changing to accommodate theirs.

When our children have a healthy sense of power and we are aware of our power in each interaction with them, it makes handling each discipline situation less stressful. Our focus is then on how do we meet each of our needs rather than the negative impact of the behaviour.

I would love to hear your feedback and if there are any other topics you would like to hear about.

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