How To End Power Struggles With Kids

End power struggles? It can't be this easy!We spend and awful lot of time telling kids what to do.

Wear this, not that, eat this, not that, eat now, not now, go to bed, get up, take a bath, brush your teeth, use the potty, get in the car, get out of the car, don’t yell, don’t talk back, go here, don’t go there, say this, don’t say that.


Kids are, in many ways, completely powerless. Your kids depend on you for housing, food, healthcare, transportation, love, affection, intellectual stimulation, emotional support, moral guidance, protection, and more.

Since they are so powerless, it makes sense that they will strive to gain power however they can.

In many household, this leads to epic power struggles. Big fights, big voices, big feelings running hot.

But I’ve got the BIG secret that will end power struggles in your house forever and ever.

I know you don’t believe me.

And if you do secretly hold out hope that I have the one secret that will end power struggles, I’ll bet you are imagining that it’s some new phrase that will stop your kid short. Or it’s some new consequence that will let them know you mean business. Or it’s some step-by-step plan that you can use to trick your child out of the power struggle.

You’re not going to like what I have to say.

Because it’s not about your kid at all.

It’s all about you.

My secret to end power struggles is one simple thing for YOU to stop doing.


The truth about power struggles is that they exist between two people – you AND your child.

It’s takes both of you to struggle.

So all you have to do is stop.

Stop struggling. Stop fighting. Stop pushing and pulling.

Once you stop struggling, you can meet your child where they are. You can care for them instead of fight with them. You can be with them instead of against them. You can end power struggles forever.

Easier said than done? Of course.

And you’ll need something else to do instead of struggle.

That other thing is empathy. I’ll write about that more another day.

For today, let me leave you with Dr Markham’s article on empathy as a starting place.

But first you have to make that mental shift. You have to agree to stop engaging in power struggles.

Can you do that?

What gets in your way?

Additional Reading: Here’s a selection of life-changing parenting books I highly recommend. (These are affiliate links.)