Reduce Parent Child Power Struggles with Positive Discipline Routines

Routines with Words

Parents, what power struggle moments are you dreading tomorrow?

  • Making sure your child is out of bed?
  • Keeping your child on the move to get ready each morning?
  • Homework battles?
  • Dinnertime?
  • Getting your child to clean up a messy room?
  • Bedtime?

Which one of these is the worst for you? You know the feeling. You know you need to prompt your child to engage in one of the tasks above but you must stop, take a deep breath and remind yourself to stay calm before approaching your child.

Did you know that taking time to plan and establish a routine can help? Creating routines isn’t a quick fix – it requires stepping back and thinking about a new way of doing things, but odds are that after 30 days, you’ll be amazed at the changes in yourself and your child.

Step 1: Choose Your Power Struggle

Only work on creating one routine at a time. Once a new routine is going smoothly for a while, then it’s okay to work on a different one.

Step 2: Together Write the “Must Haves” in the Routine

Sit down with your child when both of you are in a good mood and write a list of all of the steps that must happen in the routine.  It’s really helpful to write each step on an individual sticky note or index card.

Step 3: Add 1 or 2 Elements of Fun or Connection to the Routine

Brainstorm a few ideas that will help break up the routine with something funny or enjoyable.  Examples:

  • Sing silly songs while getting dressed
  • Look up the joke of the day on the computer and tell your parent the joke of the day
  • Dance a funny dance to one song

Connection ideas might include:

  • Hug every family member
  • Eat breakfast with a parent
  • Brush your teeth with your parent

Step 4: Decide on the Order of the Routine

Move the sticky notes around to see what might work well for both child and parent.

Step 5: Add Photos for Preschoolers

Use clip art, pictures from magazines, stick figure drawings or actual photos of your child completing each step of the routine.  Again, use sticky notes, index cards, poster board, etc. to create your visual routine chart.

Using the Chart to Reduce Power Struggles

Instead of nagging your child to complete the routine, try one of the following Positive Discipline tools:

  1. Ask Curiosity Questions: “What’s next on  your routine chart?”; “What do you need to do next to get ready?” Read more about the Positive Discipline tool of curiosity questions on Jane Nelsen’s blog.
  2. Use Silent Signals: Without speaking, use agreed upon silent signals as reminders – a hand over your heart, the “I love you” hand signal, etc.
  3. Take Time for Training: Practice the routine or difficult parts of the routine when needed. Read examples of the Take Time for Training Tool on Jane Nelsen’s blog.

More Articles on Routines

Visit the Think It Though Parenting Tools Page for more articles on creating specific routines. (You may need to scroll down on this page to see the “routines” tool.)

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