It is not unusual for parents to experience challenging behaviors that their child has and not know how to communicate to meet that need or resolve the conflict without finding it turns into a power struggle. Often we know it is a power struggle because it’s coming across that either your child is ‘winning’ or the child feels that their needs are unmet (with perhaps some resentment toward parent) because Mom or Dad made decisions and enforced without meeting possible needs behind the child’s behavior. When this happens, often both parent and child leave the conversation or situation feeling frustrated and have the lingering feeling that things were left unresolved. It is challenging! While it is human of us to lose patience, and step into the ‘bear traps’ of power struggles, I have some parental resources that I have used in working with kids and families that I really benefited from myself, and know that the skills and understanding more of the ‘why’s’ behind potentially challenging behaviors, helps to increase our empathy when we see a behavioral outburst. It can guide us to more readily ask what the need might be behind the behavior, connecting with the child to understand it better (even if it was not the most appropriate way to meet that need), and be able to meet that need, as well as hopefully teach how to meet that need in more appropriate ways. Because we do not come with our own individual manual, nothing is a perfect science; however resources and supports that can help you to navigate through challenges are sometimes what we need to feel confident or have some light in the rough waters.

A few resources that I really like:

  1. No-Drama Discipline Workbook: Exercises, Activities, and Practical Strategies to Calm the Chaos and Nurture Developing Minds
    by Daniel J. Siegel
  2. The Connected Child: Bring Hope and Healing to Your Adoptive Family
    By: Karyn B. Purvis, David R. Cross, Wendy Sunshine (This is helpful not just for adoption but emotional regulation and parental interventions in general)
  3. Trust based relationship intervention trainings (Dr. Karyn Purvis)


The information contained herein is not therapeutic advice nor a substitute for therapy. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any mental health problem. If you are located within the United States and you need emergency assistance please call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room. If you are located within Colorado you may also call the Colorado Crisis Line at 844-493-TALK (8255).

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