Dealing with power struggles and setting limits

by Lois Haultain and Karan Simms

“No, I won’t and you can’t make me!” That’s what a toddler’s folded arms and defiant looks seem to say. It’s an invitation to a power struggle, which is the main misbehaviour from childhood we take through to adulthood. It often takes a new parent by surprise, stirring up feelings of anger and resentment , and a desire to “make that child” do whatever it is we’re asking.

Most parents first experience their child’s attempts at autonomy at about age two. They feel challenged and often a battle of wills begins that lasts throughout childhood and the teen years. Parents can turn these trying times into a rewarding growth period for them and their children by shifting their perspective concerning the child’s behaviour and by becoming clever and creative in responding to the child’s perceived “headstrong, rebellious, stubborn, frustrating, negative” behaviour.
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