Avoid Power Struggles
With school out for the summer, parents are often tempted — and encouraged by their kids — to ease up on the rules about bedtime, television time, and so on. Watch out. As I tell parents, once you start negotiating with your child, you begin a tug-of-war that you will inevitably lose.
Let’s say your child asks if he can stay up past his usual bedtime. That seems like a reasonable request, especially since there’s no school in the morning. “All right,” you say, “you can have another 10 minutes.” But when those 10 minutes have passed, what happens? Your child wants another 10 minutes. Before you know it, it’s an hour past bedtime, and you’ve wasted the evening on a nasty power struggle.
Rules are rules. As the parent, you are in charge. There’s no need to explain yourself or to negotiate. If your child resists doing something you’ve asked her to do, be firm. Say, “I didn’t ask you if you wanted to do that. I said to do it.”
Find effective ways to enforce the rules — such as using a reward system. It can take a while to learn how to do this, and you may need help from a mental-health professional. But it is time well spent.