The Last Word

Feb 18, 2024

Parents, one of the best ways to avoid power struggles with your children is to let them have the last word.  Though difficult to do, it is an effective way to de-escalate a situation.  I had a hard time practicing this strategy when my children were younger, as I felt as though I was letting them “win” by not responding immediately when confronted.  However, as my wife had to remind me on many occasions, sometimes you have to lose a battle in order to win the war.

When your child talks back and you sense a power struggle beginning, say, “We can talk about this later,” and step away.  Comments can then be addressed at a time when you are both calm.  “You were mad earlier today when I told you it was time to get off the computer.  It’s okay to be angry.  I get upset, too – but we need to talk about how to handle things differently next time that happens.” 

Interactions between parents and children often develop into habits.  So, don’t allow “last words” to push you into habitual power struggles.  Although your knee-jerk reaction might be to “lower the boom” when kids talk back, a better option is to model the behaviors you want from your child.  Calm conversations and teachable moments will strengthen positive behaviors faster than any punishment-oriented consequence. 

Have I mentioned how important this strategy is when dealing with teenagers?  Critical.

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