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Children’s Chatter: Raising your child without power struggles

By Susan Matherly

Contributing writer

Parenting is not an easy job, and there is no instruction book to follow.  Instead, you are responsible for establishing the rules for behavior you will and will not accept from your child … while not allowing yourself to get caught in power struggles with him.

One of the best things you can do for yourself and your child is to see yourself as his teacher as you prepare him to become a successful person.  It’s important for your child to learn that there is a correlation between how he behaves and what happens as a result of his behavior.  Your child also must learn appropriate ways to solve problems and make choices.

To help avoid power struggles with your child, it’s best that you clearly state to him what you expect from him before you either discipline or punish him.  He won’t learn anything if he is punished without realizing his behavior was not acceptable.

As an example, if you have asked your child to clean his room and he chooses to ignore you instead while watching television, tell him that you realize he doesn’t like to clean his room but that he has a choice.  Tell him you are going to count to three and if he hasn’t started cleaning his room in that time you will know what his choice is.  Then tell him if he chooses not to clean his room that his television will be turned off and it won’t come back on the rest of the evening.  By handling the matter in this manner, you have acknowledged your son’s feelings and provided him with a choice to make while removing yourself from the power struggle he has set up.

Being consistent with this approach to your child’s behavior is important.  It will help you to be a happier parent because you won’t be constantly battling with your son, and he will have learned the skills to help him to develop into a successful person.

Susan Matherly is director at A Children’s Place, a service of Ephraim McDowell Health.  She has a bachelor’s degree in health and exercise science and a master’s degree in public health.  She can be contacted at (859) 236-71716.