Children may seek autonomy by exploring their environment, expressing their wishes and asserting their opinions. Yet, often, the environments they explore (the stereo system), the wishes they express (to stay up past bedtime) and the opinions they assert ("No!") are quite challenging!
Children are struggling to balance their growing need for autonomy with their ongoing need for security and adult support. Parents must also find a balance between supporting children's independence, while providing them with the structure and limits that they need. Power struggles may occur when parents and children are having trouble negotiating this balance.
What parents can do to help:
Going to bed, getting dressed, picking up toys
The child cannot decide whether or not to go to bed, but can decide which bedtime story to read. Ask, "Would you like to read the story about the bear or the story about about the caterpillar? You decide."
The child cannot decide whether or not to get dressed, but can decide whether to wear his blue shirt or his red shirt. Ask, "Would you like to wear your blue shirt or your red shirt? You decide."
"I know that you feel sad when its time to stop playing to go to bed."
| Parenting Matters