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Good News About Your Strong-Willed Child: Caught in Conflict (2/10)

Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.  (Proverbs 17:14)

How peaceful life would be if I would only learn to disengage and empathize.  Power struggles — I get caught up in them all too often — something needs to change.

BUT I’m human!  God, WHAT do you want from me?!

“Serenity.  Maturity.  Prioritize relationship over power.”


Child psychologist, Dr. Randy Reynolds identifies and suggests possible solutions for four types of power struggles:

  • Demander/Withholder — The most basic power struggle, one person makes demands while the other withholds the desired outcome.  Trust, respect, goodwill, and cooperation vanish. 
  • Controller/Rebel — Polarizing.  Parents and children find themselves stuck in rigid roles with destructive consequences: rational parents with emotional children, hard-working parents with lazy children, aggressive parents with passive children … you get the picture. 
  • Rescuer/Victim — If a child feels continually helpless or inadequate and acts on these feelings, a parent may feel compelled to rescue the child.  Because strong-willed children tend to avoid responsibility, rescuer/victim dynamics are common in their families.

Healing begins when participants take personal responsibility for their words and behaviors (no finger pointing, hoping others will change).

  • Husband/Wife — Husband vents his frustration on the child and wife comes to the child’s rescue (or the reverse).  Maintain a united front.  Discuss differences privately.

So how do we change dysfunctional dynamics?

Dr. Reynolds advises:

  • Identify the type of power struggle you’re in
  • Identify the emotions that drive it
  • Take a critical view of your words and actions that invite the power struggle
  • Make the commitment to sidestep the invitations to power struggles that come your way

Skill Builders — Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life God desires  (James 1:19-20); in other words, express feelings honestly, respectfully, and effectively.

(Yikes!  I am convicted!).

  • Reflect strong emotions — What you’re telling me is (you’re angry with me.)
  • Use soft tone
  • Honest statements — “You’re being disciplined for the consequence of your behavior.”
  • Empathize — “I know it’s hard … (work doesn’t always pay off the way we expect, and that’s discouraging.  But I believe that is one of the ways we learn and grow).”

Now that I’ve acquired more knowledge than I know what to do with, I just have to apply them!

Wish me luck!  🙂


October 29, 2009 - Posted by | Attitude, Book Review, Change, Christianity, Education, God, Health and Wellness, Introspection, Leadership, Love, Mind, Peace, Purpose, Self Help, Spirit, Stress, Success | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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