Avoiding Power Struggles
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Now that schools have closed due to the Coronavirus outbreak, how can parents best help their children learn and complete work while avoiding counterproductive power struggles?
Much of the answer involves sharing control within the boundaries of firm yet loving limits. It’s an old concept made even more relevant by the current situation. Most of us feel that our lives have been turned upside down. We’re experiencing little or no control over so many things.
Do we all yearn for control? What happens when we feel like we’ve lost it?
Obviously our kids are also experiencing many difficult feelings, including a sense of losing much of their freedom. That’s why small choices around schoolwork represent one of the most powerful ways of minimizing the chaos during these already difficult times. Listed below are some examples. Please remember that the choices you provide will depend on your unique situation and value system.
   Will you be starting your schoolwork now or in five minutes?
   What do you want to start with? Math or reading?
   Do you want to make a goal of working for 30 minutes before your break, or would 25 minutes be better?
   Will you be doing your work while sitting or standing?
   Do you think it would be best to draft something on pencil or paper… or begin your work directly on the computer?
   Would you like my help or would you prefer working alone?
   Do you want to learn in the kitchen or in the family room?
   Will you be working while keeping your body still, or would you rather see how much you can wiggle while still getting it done?
   Should we start with the hardest part first or the easiest?
   Would you rather help me with chores or get started on your schoolwork?
The key to success with this technique involves remembering three things:
 1.   Give most of your choices before your child becomes resistant… not after.
 2.  With each choice provide two options, each of which you like.
 3.  Be prepared to choose for your child if they don’t select an option you provided.
While these ideas can’t solve all of the parenting challenges we face right now, they’ll increase the odds of getting through each day with fewer power struggles.
Thanks for reading. Thanks also for all of your support during these challenging times!
Our goal is to help as many families as possible. If this is a benefit, forward it to a friend.
Dr. Charles Fay

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