Take Action Today: 3 Ways to Influence Your Child to Follow Directions & Lessen Power Struggles

By: Jennifer Wisser-Stokes, MSCP, LMHC, DCC

Do you want to avoid tiring power struggles with your child? Are you tired of having to repeat yourself with no results? Looking for some alternative ways to get your child to listen without getting into power struggles?

Here you will find 3 easy ways to make changes at home, TODAY, that’ll help increase your child’s willingness to follow directions and cooperate, leaving power struggles behind.

1. Tell your child what you WANT her to do, not what you DON’T want her to do

Instead of telling your child, “stop running in the store” communicate your expectations by saying “walk in the store.” This allows your child, who is still learning A LOT about the world, learn acceptable ways to behave. It communicates a clear expectation for your child while targeting acceptable alternatives rather than just stopping the inappropriate behavior itself. It also saves you from getting into that frustrating cycle of “no…stop…don’t.”

2. Make your child a helper by finding ways to keep him engaged in positive ways

Find ways to engage your child in any way you can, specifically during times when you need your child to remain "busy" while you are busy, such as during your shopping trip.  When your child is engaged in a positive manner (and receiving credit from you for his efforts), he is less likely to misbehave. These opportunities allow your child to feel a sense of accomplishment and positive self-worth, as well as experience teamwork and cooperation. Express your gratitude towards your little helper by thanking him with a big hug and warm loving “thank you.” His help can be as simple as or as complex as is developmentally appropriate. Consider your child’s limit and pick a task you know he is capable of doing to minimize frustration in the moment when you need him to stay focused (Trust me, there will be other times to help challenge your kids). The ideas are endless when you brainstorm the possibilities of how to engage your child as a helper.

3. Spend special one on one time together where play is directed by your child

You would be surprised as to what a difference this makes for children.  This way of connecting works wonders with preventing struggles during challenging situations. It also works great with enhancing the parent/child relationship. Research has shown that when children feel more connected to their parents in the moment, they are more inclined to cooperate with parents. Decide for yourself beforehand how much one-on-one time you’d like to have with your child in that moment. During your special one-on-one time allow your child to play with toys in any way that she would like and follow her lead as she plays. Remain focused on just being with your child and not worrying about watching the clock, checking your news feed, or what you’re going to have for dinner tonight. Just be fully attentive during this very special time.

Last Note: Always consider your child’s development and capability when implementing new tools, making accommodations where you see fit. Let’s face it, we love our children and love parenting, but parenting can be difficult at times. Recognize when you need more help and get it. Jennifer Wisser-Stokes Counseling LLC offers FREE 30 minute phone consultations that provide parents with a great way to determine if more help is needed, as well as start parents on the journey of gaining the addition support need for you or your child.

Jennifer Wisser-Stokes is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Speaker who specializes in working with parents and children ages 0-10 overcome behavioral and emotional problems and strengthening parent/child relationships. As a parent herself, Jennifer understands the delight in parenthood, but also acknowledges the challenges that accompany the complexities of raising healthy children. Jennifer offers FREE 30 minute  parent empowerment phone consultations, individual therapy for children and families, as well as parenting groups. If you're interested in scheduling a FREE 30 Minute Parent Empowerment Phone Consultation call (407) 928-9249 or send an e-mail to JenniferLMHC@jennws.com

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** This content is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to replace or serve as substitute for professional, medical, legal, or psychological services. **

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