How do you handle power struggles?

Discussion in 'The Toddler Years(1-3)' started by dtomecko, Nov 23, 2010.

  1. dtomecko

    dtomecko Well-Known Member

    I'm having trouble with this phase. The defiant "no" over everything. Part of me knows they are just testing me, especially when you see a little hint of a smile behind the no. Sometimes I can ignore it, or distract them into doing what needs to be done. Other times it's total defiance. And it's maddening to me, because to me they are misbehaving/disrespecting and should be disciplined in some way so they learn the behavior is unacceptable. But how do you discipline this? I've been doing time outs, but then I watched Supernanny the other day and felt guilty and like I'm doing it all "wrong". I usually get a huge tantrum in time out, but afterwords they are willing to cooperate. How do you handle things that aren't that big a deal and you can see them turning into power struggles? Like when you already said no about something and you mean it. But you realize it isn't a big deal and maybe you shouldn't have said it? How do you go back on your word and have them take you seriously when you really mean NO the next time?

    Stupid example: bathtime was over. my son disagreed and wanted the water back on. I said no, let's get dried off. tantrum starts. do you turn the water back on? I probably should have found a way to calm him down and reason with him, but when he gets like that you can't. And the more defiant he gets - foot stomping, screaming, the more mad i get. And he throws a bigger fit in time out. When he finally comes out of time out he listens. So I win, right? Not really. How do you handle situations where your kids are not willing to cooperate, compromise or be reasoned with?

    ETA: I keep saying "they" in this post, but I really mean my son. My daughter is pretty easy, and if she disagrees or tests me, I don't feel like I need a PHD in psychology to figure out how to resolve it!
  2. Utopia122

    Utopia122 Well-Known Member

    I've had tantrums with the bathtub before, and how I handle them, or any other tantrum for that matter, is just put my poker face on and continue whatever it is I am doing. I just tell my girls, "no means no" and continue to dry them off and ignore the screaming. It takes a lot of patience, but I just act as though they aren't throwing the tantrum. I don't necessarily put them in timeout every time because I find that just continuing whatever I am doing and ignoring their tantrum with my poker face to be way more effective for them. I have also said to them, "you can be mad at me and throw your fit, but you will do it in your room. When you get finished you may come out." They usually will make the decision to stop. I also try to let them know that it is okay to be mad, but to do it in a way that doesn't hurt hitting, biting, yelling, screaming, etc. I also think that once you have verbally made a commitment on something that you have to stick with it...even if you think that maybe you are being too harsh. If you don't then they may continue to try to persuade you to change your mind...or at least that is my thinking. Tantrums are hard stuff!!
  3. Fran27

    Fran27 Well-Known Member

    Once you say no, stick to it, or they will never learn that no means no. I ignore too... eventually they calm down.
  4. becasquared

    becasquared Well-Known Member TS Moderator

    This^^^. Then I come here to vent.

    I try my best to ignore the tantrum, if they earn a TO, then they start on the TO chair, if it escalates, they are sent to their room until they calm down or I come let them out (yay babylocks on the inside of the door!) And I've said "it's okay to be angry/mad, but it is not okay to have a tantrum in the living room/bathroom/hallway, you can go to your room and when you're done having a tantrum, you can come out."

    I didn't give in the other day when Royce had a two hour tantrum about bed time. I just whisked Alice to another room to sleep. Last night Alice was tantrumming about bed time, so I put her in TO which worked amazingly well.
  5. mhardman

    mhardman Well-Known Member

    I also agree that if you say no, don't go back. A couple of things to thing about 1- think twice before you say no, does it really matter, if not it may not be worth it. 2- I love asking how much longer they want. If in the bath-do you want ot get out in 2 min or 4 min. THen they get a choice and when I say 4 min is up, they tend to get out happier. I also tell mine I don't want to see/hear teh whining/throwing fits so they go to their room if upstairs or laundry room if down stairs. They are welcome to come out when they are happy. At first it took a while, but not it is usually less than 1 min. It is not really time out but they get to choose when to come out.
  6. dtomecko

    dtomecko Well-Known Member

    It makes me feel better that I'm on the same page as you guys. To me, no has always meant no. But there's been a lot more of it and a lot more power struggles lately. The Supernanny episode I saw made a point of not using time outs for power struggles or to get the behavior you're looking for. She told the dad he needed to change his thinking and his approach with the child. It made me start to second guess myself.

    I'm trying to be better about learning how to deal with his behavior in a way he will respond to like offering choices, or making a game out of something before it goes downhill fast. But you never know when it will work, or will turn into a full-blown tantrum. Like when he refused to clean up the other day and kept saying no, I patiently said we would count each memory card he put in the box, and I was shocked he obliged. or when he didn't want to come upstairs from the playroom to go to bed, I told him if I turned the lights off it would get real dark and he wouldn't want to stay down their in the dark. Then I showed him how dark it was, turned the lights back on and said let's hurry up and get upstairs before the lights go back out! Which turned it into a game and he responded. But I don't always have the energy to pull things like that out of thin air. And when they don't work the first time, I'm not going to sit there and think of tactic after tactic. I still think he needs to learn to listen and understand there are consequences if he doesn't.

    I have to get better with my poker face. He makes it so hard sometimes! I do lock him in his room with a gate when he won't stay in time out or it's a full blown tantrum. He never seems to calm down on his own, he just keeps repeating and screaming about the thing he couldn't have that sent him there in the first place. After I let him out he calms down and usually drops it. But maybe I should make a better effort to explain that he's in there until he calms down and stick to my guns.
  7. twinsnowwhat

    twinsnowwhat Well-Known Member

    At what age did you start the - go have your tantrum in your room and come out when you are happy?
  8. dtomecko

    dtomecko Well-Known Member

    [quote name='Shelly's twins' date='24 November 2010 - 02:23 PM' timestamp='1290626627' post='1726820']
    At what age did you start the - go have your tantrum in your room and come out when you are happy?

    I think I started that in the Spring/early Summer, so my son was maybe 2 years 3 mos? We're still working on the "come out when you're happy" part, though!
  9. lovelylily

    lovelylily Well-Known Member

    I try to stay calm while I am screaming inside! I do not give into their demands. In fact, if anything, I become stricter when they start testing me. To use your example, if one of my children demanded to have the water back on, I would tell them no. If they persisted, I would tell them that it's time to play in the water and get washed off; if they can't be good, it would be time to get out. (my kids like the bath so this works!) If they kept it up, I would promptly wash them and get them out. If they kept it up then, they would go in time-out. That's the progression I would do. It usually doesn't progress very far because they know that I mean what I say.
    Anyhow, please know that you're not alone in feeling overwhelmed/frustrated! This has got to be one of the hardest parts of parenting. On my bad days, I momentarily join in the screaming and sometimes put myself in timeout :)
  10. Utopia122

    Utopia122 Well-Known Member

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