My 5 year old threw her backpack and demanded I carry it home from school. She stared right at me, defiant. Heat rose up to my face.
In the past, I used power struggles to teach kids respect and responsibility.
I would have locked eyes with her, insisted she follow directions and laid out the consequences if she didn't. I would have wanted to teach her to be respectful of me and responsible for her belongings.
But my underlying goal would have been to get her to comply for fear that she may take advantage of me in the future and grow up spoiled.
She would have complied.
After really examining my own feelings during power struggles I set a new goal.
During such a power struggle I feel mad and righteous with a hardened heart. Those feelings are red flags to me that something's amiss. I thought through my motivation for using power struggles to teach respect and responsibility. "I'm afraid that she may take advantage of me in the future and grow up spoiled." I heard my fear.