I think we all go through periods in our parenting where we wonder if we are meeting our child’s needs or how that child or teen’s future will look. However, sometimes we may just have times where we feel very much as if the power struggles in our homes are beyond “normal” (whatever that means). Chapter 12 in “Kids, Parents, and Power Struggles,” author Mary Sheedy Kurcinka writes on page 199, “Everyone has suggestions for you. If you’d just be tougher or provide more structure, they advise, but you already feel like you’re a drill sargeant living in a book camp. Even professionals have minimized your concerns, assuring you it’s just a stage. But you know in your gut it’s not. Your child is dealing with something more than temperament or normal development. “
If, despite doing everything “right” your “bad” days with power struggles are far outweighing your “good” days, then trust your gut that says there is something more going on. For many children, this can be medical issues that just haven’t been diagnosed. Your child isn’t out to get you or to make your life miserable or trying to be lazy or sabotage themselves or the family. Your child needs you to believe them and be their advocate. The chapter in this book talks plainly about AD/HD, sensory integration dysfunction, language and speech problems, anxiety disorders, depression, OCD, autism spectrum disorder, attachment disorders, encorpresis, and I would add PANS/PANDAS to this list along with bipolar disorder.
The author talks about getting help, which I often find in the United States that the level of help often varies by state and some states have higher levels of specialists than others; how to get a thorough evaluation, and how to focus on your child, because your child is much more than a label. Your child is a child first and foremost, a unique and wonderful person with gifts and talents.
Chapter 13 of this book talks about stressed-out kids. A family’s stress levels highly correspond with a child’s stress level. Kids don’t say they are hurting, they are grieving, they are mourning, they are missing someone, they feel insecure. Instead they throw tantrums, they shadow you, they have toileting accidents or issues with food or sleep. Lethargy, apathy, disrupted sleep, falling apart over small things can all be signs that the stress level is just too high for that child. Even happy things such as holidays, birthday parties, school being out for the summer can cause regressions and behavioral troubles.
Connecting and loving your child is always, always, always the first step. Small children may not be able to name their feelings well up until about age 9, but you as the adult can often figure out how your child is feeling. You know your child better than anyone! Rhythm helps immensely in helping children weather stress within the family, along with such rituals as eating dinner as a family, connecting during the week with special things, and looking at your child’s extroversion and introversion levels (what would feel connecting to them given their personality and temperament?) We can teach older children to recognize their stress levels and how to take breaks; teenagers should be able to take a mental health day from school when they need. Older children should be able to name their feelings and come up with ways to cope and we as families should be able to offer support and caring.
Most of all, what most children need, whether they have medical issues leading toward power struggles or stressful events going on, is for us as adults to SLOW DOWN. It is plenty for many children to just go to school and come home and be with the family. This is especially true if they are under high school aged. They need models for slowing down, for taking life in stride, for self-care and nurturing. These are the tools that will help them most as an adult. If you are looking for more on that topic, I did an entire book study chapter by chapter on “Simplicity Parenting” by Kim John Payne. You can see the first post in that series here and all the posts for that series will come up if you use the search box.
I would love to know what you thought about these two chapters.
Blessings and love,