How to Prevent Power Struggles with “Involve to Solve”

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Involve to Solve promotes collaborative problem solving among parents and children when conflict and problems keep coming back again and again. Small shifts in our communication can make a big impact to enhance cooperation, prevent power struggles and help our family life flourish when we parent each day with purpose.

Got Conflict?

“I used to hold on to this belief that I had to win every battle with my daughter. That I am the boss and my daughter should do what I say without question. But the truth is, it is not a competition.

I should want my child to negotiate and problem-solve with others. I realized that all those power struggles were her way of getting some say in situations.” ~ Betsy, parent.

Nothing brings me more joy than walking alongside parents when an epiphany hits them. When they have an “A-Ha moment” and begin to think differently about parenting. This happened with Betsy and her husband, Phil once they began parenting coaching and experiencing some positive results after practicing Purposeful Parenting strategies.

The “Involve to Solve” skill was particularly transformative for them. “Involve to Solve” promotes collaborative problem solving among parents and children when conflict and problems keep coming back again and again.

Betsy and Phil discovered that the more they provided purposeful opportunities for their daughter to voice her feelings, thoughts, and desires, to which they patiently listened and calmly compromised on situations, the more cooperation, and harmony resulted.

“Involve to Solve” Steps to Success

1. Acknowledge What Is Important to Your Child First

“I can see this is important to you.”

“You really want to stay up.”

“You really want to go out with your friends.”

“You really don’t want to take a shower right now.”

Validating your child’s wants and emotions is not the same as accepting or giving in to his or her demands. Acknowledging what is important to her communicates that you hear and value her feelings and desires.

Validating opens up the other person for more thoughtful collaborative problem-solving.(Important! Avoid starting the next sentence with the word “But…” which often sucks the power out of your communication).

2. Seek for Further Understanding

If needed, use open-ended “What” questions to dig deeper in order to unravel her roots to resistance and to move toward resolution. Probing questions are most effective when time is not a constraint:

“What bothers you the most about this?”

“What parts are most difficult? What parts are more tolerable?”

3. Use Problem-Solving and Compromising Language

“How can we meet in the middle on this?

“Let’s brainstorm some possible compromise solutions.”

“Let’s choose one small way to compromise for right now.”

“What is one part of this you are willing to try?”

4. Give Power Through Choice

If your child doesn’t provide an option or commit to a compromise, provide a can-do option that gives her some age-appropriate and meaningful control or power in the situation:

“You can take your shower now or in the morning.”

5. If Resistance Runs High, Press Pause

If emotions are charged or you run into rigidity, choose a later time to revisit the discussion when the two of you are calm and open to collaboration:

“Let’s solve this later when we are calmer.”

“Let’s take a break so we can solve this problem wisely.”

Small shifts in our communication can make a big impact to enhance cooperation, prevent power struggles and help our family life flourish when we parent each day with purpose. Happy Parenting!

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Mary B. Moore, LCSW
Mary B. Moore, LCSW Mary B.’s passion is connecting with parents and children in meaningful ways and helping them to develop skills so that they may be their best and flourish. Her specialties are parenting, childhood anxiety, social-emotional skill development, Asperger’s, grief/loss, collecting Boba Fett memorabilia, and creating clever catch phrases, like “Connect Before you Direct” “Pause. Rewind. DoOver,” and “Involve to Solve” to help parents. Mary B. is the creator of The Purposeful Parenting™ Program at Southeast Psych; Co-founder of The Epiphany School of Charlotte, and author of The Friends and Feelings™ social-emotional learning curriculum. Besides Star Wars, Mary B. loves playing games, Legos, Nerf gun battles, and watching action movies with her 3 fun energetic boys and patient husband.

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