Thursday, April 21, 2011

Reverse Psychology

Power struggles are no fun, but as parents we all too often find ourselves in them with our children. A recent article in Parenting magazine addressed this issue and some reverse psycholgy tricks parents can use to avoid many of them. (Can you tell from my recent posts that I recently got caught up on my magazine reading? Lol!)

Power Struggle: Child makes a huge mess with all their toys and then leaves them in pursuit of another activity.

Reverse Psychology Trick:
  • For younger kids turn clean up time into a game of Beat the Clock.
  • Ask them to be your helper.
  • State things in the positive instead of the negative (i.e. " We can go to the park as soon as you clean up your toys" instead of "You won't get to go to the park today if you don't clean up this mess")

Power Struggle: Child knows that getting their pajamas on means bedtime, so they fight you every step of the way

Reverse Psychology Trick:
  • Play calming music in the background while kids are taking a bath or getting ready for bed. This will relax them without them even realizing it.
  • Ask them three questions in a row that makes them say "yes". This will break their resistant pattern, plus make them feel heard and understood.
  • Offer choices (i.e. Do you want to wear your pink pajamas or you yellow ones)
Power Struggle: Child is a picky eater

Reverse Psychology Trick:
  • Give them small portions of everything you want them to eat and then don't say a word about the food. Don't even give them the opportunity to fight with you.
  • Give them dessert no matter what, but make it small (i.e. a single Hersey's kiss). No more bargaining to get him to eat and since the dessert is small you won't feel like you are giving in and it won't fill them up. So even if they eat dessert first, they will still be hungry and go back to the main entree.
  • Have one, unchanging food alternative your child can make himself if he doesn't want what you are serving. Make it easy, nutritious, and something always on hand (i.e. PB&J). Most children will grow tired of making their own meal after a few times and will eat what you cook.
  • If they refuse to eat anything, say "No problem. You can have a big breakfast in the morning".
  • Stay calm and have no emotional reaction.
Power Struggle: Child wants to wear clothes that you think look silly or are inappropriate for the situation and/or weather

Reverse Psychology Trick:
  • Clean out the closet and put away clothes that are out of season. Rotate items in the closet to allow for fewer choices, and get rid of things you feel are inappropriate (i.e. stained clothes, skirt you don't want her wearing)
  • Pick out a few different outfits the night before and then let the child pick which one they want to wear.
  • Let them learn it the hard way. If they don't want to wear a coat, don't fight it and let them face the consequences (within reason of course). If that seems to harsh, have them put whatever it is (jacket, long pants) in their bag to take with them.

What do you do to avoid power struggles?

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