Why Giving Your Child Power Is A Positive

I think it’s pretty safe to say that parenting is probably one of the hardest jobs we’ll ever do.  The idea of taking your child from birth, a blank slate, and being the person responsible to guide, teach and train them all that needs to be shown in order to grow up to be responsible and independent adults, can feel a bit daunting at times.   Although we know we are the ones our kids rely on for all of this teaching and training, it’s not a simple black and white task.

The reason parenting is even harder than it sounds is that it comes attached to a million emotions.  These emotions get us in trouble and corner us from time to time, especially during the difficult moments.  Emotions are why it’s hard for us to teach our kids the difficult lessons in life.  Emotions are why we decide to give in to our screaming child in the grocery store, even though we originally said ‘no’ to the treat.  Emotions are what fill our hearts and minds with guilt and persuade us to not follow through with what we ‘know’ is the right thing to do, in order to ‘please’ our kids.  It’s with these crazy emotions that we begin participating in power struggles and battling out issues with our kids.  Having the capability to park our emotions at the door and not partake in these struggles is step 1.  Step 2 we must allow our kids to share some of the control over their lives. One key to successful parenting is offering our kids the amount of power they are entitled to as human beings.

So, how do we accomplish this division of power without letting our kids rule the roost?

To begin answering this loaded question, we must first understand that there are 3 types of parenting styles, which each create very different outcomes in your household and your parent/child relationships.

Parenting Style 1 – Authoritarian Parents who are of the mind-set that they are ‘in charge,’ and often fear what would happen if they gave their child any amount of control/power.  They consider themselves the boss solely based on the fact that they are the adults, and what the parent says goes.

Parenting Style 2 – Permissive Parents who lack boundaries and consequences. The kids rule the roost and are in complete control.  Permissive parents are afraid to upset their kids and will do anything to be sure they are happy and please them.   They feel that by pleasing their kids they are doing their job.

Parenting Style 3 – Positive Discipline (Authoritative) Parents who have respect for their children by allowing them a certain level of autonomy in their world.  Creating an environment where their kids are given opportunities to be responsible and relied on.  Boundaries are in place and consequences are set up and followed through in a respectful way, which provides learning opportunities.

The first 2 parenting styles are missing this key factor of offering their kids a certain level of power. Positive Discipline Parenting creates an environment, which offers your child freedom within limits.  When you, the parent, set the boundaries and limits, but let your kids have choice, it helps to parent in a positive and respectful way.  By establishing an environment where your kids are given power in a controlled manner you will notice that the negative power struggles begin to diminish.  Giving your child an abundance of choices throughout the day will help you accomplish this. You will offer two choices where you are happy with both outcomes (set limits) and let them choose (freedom for your kids – power).

For example:  “Do you want to take a bath now or after dinner?”  “Would you like to use the blue towel or yellow?”  “Do you want to clean up alone or would you like my help?”

All of these simple choices make your child feel as though they have some control in their world.  Builds their confidence and self-worth as they begin feeling ‘in charge’ and ‘capable’ to care for themselves.  When you are an, ‘asking parent’ and not a ‘telling parent’, it demonstrates a level of respect.  These choices keep us from barking orders all day and it gives our kids a huge sense of autonomy, which again makes them feel that sense of power.

With Authoritarian and Permissive parenting this so-called ‘power’ is not directed or guided. The power is, more or less, flying around aimlessly between the parents and kids.  No one quite knows where he or she stands.  No one quite knows where their place lies within the family.  This leaves everyone feeling frustrated and out of control, hence increasing power struggles and battles.

Ask yourself the following questions-

-Are your kids getting chances to have power and a sense of autonomy in their world each day?

-Are you offering your kids lots of choice throughout the day to develop freedom within limits?  

-Are consequences in place to help your child learn from the choices they make?

If you answered ‘NO’ to some or all of these questions and are currently dealing with lots of power struggles then lets start today making positive changes towards a positive shift in our parenting style.  You will be amazed as you watch the battling decrease by granting your child the POWER they need and deserve!