Summer for families is a prime battleground as kids often do better with structure. Add an epic heat and behavior can devolve. Susan Stiffelman, author of “Parenting Without Power Struggles: Raising Joyful, Resilient Kids While Staying Cool, Calm and Connected,” says it’s best if a parent maintains a position of authority during skirmishes. She has this advice for parents to stay calm and confident.
1. Attachment and connection. “When kids feel close to us, when they know that we like them and enjoy their company, they’re naturally in- clined to cooperate rather than resist. By inviting a child to spend time with you before she asks, or acknowledging something you love about them, you help prevent those power struggles that can wear you down.”
2. Parent from strength, not neediness or desperation. “Avoid making requests that begin with, ‘I need you to.’ It puts the child in a position of either satisfying our need, or creating drama” in resisting it.
3. Help kids handle frustration so it doesn’t turn into anger or aggression. It’s better to help him feel his sadness than “try to talk him out of his unhappy feelings” or fix it.
4. Stay cool and calm. “We often encourage our kids to engage in power struggles with us because our reactions are so interesting and dramatic. By looking at what we’re making our child’s behavior mean and not taking it personally, we stay out of the drama, negotiations and battles that allow power struggles to happen.”