Is Getting into Power Struggles with Your Child Worth It?

When tantrums turn into power struggles between children and their parents, it's important to act wisely so as not to hurt them.
Is Getting into Power Struggles with Your Child Worth It?

Last update: 17 February, 2023

Exercising responsible and empathetic parenthood with children isn’t always an easy task. On the contrary, it’s a path that’s full of challenges that must be overcome with love and patience. However, sometimes simple tantrums can turn into power struggles that end up affecting a parent’s relationship with their children and adolescents.

In the midst of their learning process, children may challenge the limits that have been set at home through tantrums or misbehaviors. However, understanding that this is a response based on the lack of knowledge on how to manage their emotions is very important. Not only to not take things personally but also to not get carried away by impulses.

How do power struggles affect the relationship between parents and children?

The way in which problems are addressed is crucial in order to try to solve them in a peaceful and conscious way. It may be that during their first years of life, your children will listen to you in every single thing you ask of them. But, as they grow up and start to become teenagers, things change, and you need to know how to handle them.

A teenage girl who's distanced herself from her parents.
Being authoritarian parents with teenagers will only produce walls of distance that, little by little, will end up affecting the family relationship.

When children break down in tantrums, it’s common for parents to think that they’re manipulating them or trying to get their own way. This causes them to impose an authoritarian parenting style where only mom or dad can be right, regardless of many feelings such as empathy and respect for children and adolescents.

However, authoritarianism isn’t a practice that’s allowed in positive parenting. So, if you want to cultivate emotional intelligence in children, you must keep authoritarianism out of your home. When children and youngsters behave inappropriately by exceeding family limits, you need to talk to them in a calm manner so that they understand their mistakes.

Parents aren’t always right

When, as parents, we use our position of power to impose mandates without taking into consideration our children’s feelings, we’re hurting them much more than we can imagine. Behind seemingly innocent phrases of authority, we can silence our children’s opinions and make them feel that they aren’t being heard.

Parents aren’t always right. No matter how much wisdom we try to share with our children, there are situations in which we don’t act in the best way. Because of this, always encouraging dialogue as a mediating tool will always be the best option in order to listen to the feelings of both parties.

Studies have confirmed that children who grow up in a home where conflict, authoritarianism, and lack of dialogue prevail tend to be more insecure and withdrawn and have low self-esteem. So, be very cautious, as, on many occasions, we don’t notice the direct impact we have on our children’s perception.

Is getting into power struggles with your child worth it?

The simple answer will always be “no”. But this requires digging deeper into how we treat our children when trying to resolve conflicts. Tantrums are nothing more than an excessive accumulation of feelings that should be released in some way. So, be more empathetic with children and understand that they’re not doing it on purpose.

A mother dialoguing with her young daughter.
Providing children with a safe environment to express themselves freely is very important in order to foster assertive communication in the home.

Positive parenting based on love and respect is essential to raising future adults who are aware of themselves and others. For this reason, if you feel that, during stressful moments, you assume an authoritarian attitude to calm your children’s behavior, it’s time to rethink your tactics.

Conflicts with children will be present whether we want them to be or not at certain times in life. However, knowing how to get the best out of them is more important than a power struggle over who’s in charge or who should obey without complaint.

So, educate by example, and don’t silence the emotions of your little ones in an eagerness to demonstrate that you’re in charge. Instead, accompany them through empathy and respect so that they recognize their mistakes and know how to tolerate frustration.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

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This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.