Monday, October 13, 2008

Morning Hassles and Power Struggles


Hi Jane,

My 4-year old recently started kindergarten and has to wear a school uniform. I tried to prepare her as much as I could over the summer about having to wear it for school. Thankfully we haven’t encountered any major issues in the morning when she has to put it on.

A couple of weeks ago however, we found out that the kids are going to be doing Judo once a week, and last week they were given their Judo uniforms, and the parents were asked to send the kids
to school every Wed in the Judo uniform and pack their school uniform in the backpacks. Again, we talked about it, tried it on, and she seemed to be fine with the idea.

Well, this week when she had to put on her Judo uniform in the morning, the drama began. She REFUSED to wear it, so trying to give her a choice, I said she could either put it on and participate with her classmates, or she could put her school uniform instead, but she wouldn’t be able to participate, but that it was her choice. Well needless to say she wanted the best of both worlds. She wanted to wear her school uniform, and still be able to do her Judo class. I always feel like I’m walking that fine line between giving her choices (within limits) and adhering to certain policies (such as school policies). Also, these struggles ALWAYS happen when I’m racing again
st the clock to get to work in the morning, so more times than not, my patience inevitable runs out. I need some advice.

How could I have handled this? Any suggestions on dealing with these power struggles would be GREATLY appreciated!

Thank you,



When you give a choice you need to be okay with either choice and follow-through. Allow her to experience the consequences of her choice at school. When she cries and complains, simply validate her feelings. "I can see how upsetting that was." Then allow her to learn from the experience and decide what she will do next time without any lectures (especially in the “I told you so,” form from you.

You do offer another clue when you say these things happen when you are racing. One possible way to prevent the problem in the first place is to have her create a bedtime routine chart that includes laying out her clothes for the next morning. Is is fun for the kids to have pictures of themselves doing each task. Pictures for the "Laying out clothes for morning" could include one in her regular uniform and one in her Judo uniform. All you would need to ask is, "Since tomorrow is Wed, which uniform do you need to lay out tonight.

I'm sure you can see that helping her create her own bedtime routine with pictures helps her feel capable and allows her to use her power in useful ways so she doesn't feel the need to use it in "power struggles."

Best wishes,

Jane Nelsen

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