The Struggle for Power: the 3 mistakes you might be making that escalate the battle with your child

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It all began with a request
“Can I have a bowl of chips?” my son asked.
I saw the immediate frustration play at my husband’s brow
Like how dare he ask when it’s almost dinner.


“No!” was my husband’s reply.
My son asked again.
“We’re about to eat dinner” he replied more firmly this time.

Mistake 1: Not taking the time to actually listen to your child and what he might be needing

“But I’m hungry” my son whined from the other room.
I sat quietly and watched the battle lines from.
My husband threw me a glance
Like help me out here.

“This is common sense parenting, right?” he said.
As if looking for an ally.
With my son starting to call “mommy” from the other room
Each side looking for support to get what they wanted.

Mistake 2: Judging the method a child is using to try to be heard

How easily I could have joined the fray
Jumping in and taking sides
Adding more discord
And fuel to the battle.

I knew my power was in my neutrality
“I hear he’s hungry” I mentioned to my husband.
He threw me an angry look like I had chosen to side against him.


“Do you hear how he’s talking to me? The disrespect and the whining.
This would never have been allowed when I was a child!” he spewed out
As he tore open the bag of fries
In a voice filled with anger and frustration and resentment.

“I hear you” I replied.  “I know this is hard and very different than you learned,
That kids can actually have a voice. This is your chance to change things.”


“What?! Give in like you always do?” he said under his breath
As he moved and pounded around the kitchen.

Mistake 3: Being unwilling to “be wrong” or back track simply digging in

At that moment, my son entered the kitchen
Whining he was hungry and wanted chips
“I hear you” I said.
 “I’m worried you’ll fill up on chips and not be hungry for dinner,
you know to give your body what it needs.  
Can we agree on like 5 chips?” I asked him.


I watched as his demeanor changed.  The whine leaving his voice as he replied,
“How about some pickles? Can I have pickles?”


As he enjoyed the pickles,
my husband asked if he could go get him a roll of paper towel
from the utility room.
“No” was the reply without even looking up.


My husband looked my way again
And I could see in his look he was judging this answer
As defiance and another check in the disrespect box
Shaking his head with his jaw clenched.

“Maybe you could use a few minutes to walk away,” I gently asked.
And through clenched teeth, he almost spat out the words
“This behavior is not okay.  He is running the house. I do everything for him
But I want something and forget it”

My son wandered back into the kitchen still hungry
“How about a pear,” I suggested, “and while I’m cutting it for you
Could you run up and grab a roll of paper towel.  
I know you probably don’t want to,
But I’d really appreciate the help.”


He glanced at me hesitating,
“Can you make it there and back before I get to 20?” I asked.
And off he went to grab it.

As we finished getting dinner ready,
I spoke to my husband without judgement or criticism,
Without shaming or look what I can do,
But with compassion and empathy.

I reflected on how this wasn’t about being permissive,
This was about listening and working really hard on my
Connection with our child
Because it’s in that connection that cooperation happens.

I shared that this was his chance to heal old wounds
That were hijacking his present moment
He wasn’t mad at my son’s behavior
But his anger came from what he was making that behavior mean.

The power struggle happens when a parent simply imposes a solution
To a child’s need, feeling or want
Without discussion or understanding or compassion
When a parent simply seeks to exert control
A child will fight back


He will say no to requests that the parent then labels as defiance
He will speak with a tone of disrespect because he doesn’t feel respected
He will whine as a means to be heard when he feels powerless
He will “act out” using behavior as communication when he doesn’t feel safe or heard or capable of using words

A few years ago I was right where my husband was
Fighting for that respect
And squashing the defiance
With punishments and consequences.

The more I tried to fix the behavior
The more of the behavior I got in return
Which fueled more frustration and anger
Telling me that the consequences weren’t “painful” enough

But the more I threatened or took away
The more my son dug in.

It wasn’t until I changed my approach
Until I stopped judging and started connecting
Until I stopped drawing my line in the sand
To demand a certain outcome
That I found cooperation.

I focus on stopping to take a breath and really listen to my child
I look for the intention behind the method or request (it’s not to just be back or disrespectful)
I admit when I’m wrong or I react as I know my child is learning it’s okay to be wrong and take responsibility.

I reminded my husband that I worked really hard on the relationship
I reminded him that I stood right alongside him just a few years ago
But now I stand before him showing him what’s possible
When he decides he’s ready to shed these stories that no longer serve him.

This is why I’ve created a free webinar on this very thing.
“How to End the Power Struggles Without Feeling Like You’re Giving In”


I want to share with you the 3 secrets that I use everyday
To navigate this parenting journey
The secrets that have completely transformed my
Relationship with my boys.

Creating change begins with learning and understanding

If you’re at your wits end from the power struggles,
The behaviors
The defiance
And lack of cooperation from your child

This free webinar is a must attend.

If you’re doing more yelling than you’d like
And still get more of the same
And you feel stressed and overwhelmed
And are convinced you must be failing,

This free webinar is a must attend.

If you really try to be peaceful
But still find yourself triggered in the moment
And at a loss of how to get your child to do what you want
And usually end up throwing your hands in the air and giving up,

Grab some free support here!
Whether your child is 2 or 16,
I promise you’ll gain insight and knowledge to transform your relationship.

Parenting may never be easy
but it can be a lot more enjoyable.

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Irene is a certified parenting coach who is passionate about creating peace in parenting and opening parents hearts to what is possible in their family. She works with clients 1-1 and offers support through her digital course, The Peaceful Parent Playbook. She is host of the private Facebook Community, The Moms Hive. She is inspired to help moms let go of the doing that leads to the overwhelm and more “bee-ing” in peace, joy and a love for parenting.

Irene McKennaComment