A pioneer in mental health care for children
- About Bradley Hospital
- For Parents and Caregivers
- Mental Health Conditions and Treatments
- Planning Your Visit
- Parenting Matters Minute
- Parenting Articles
- Childhood Chores
- Healthful Leisure
- How to Talk So Your Kids Will Listen
- Growth and Development
- Expressing and coping with feelings
- Summer and Body Image
- Dangerous Eating Behaviors
- Encouraging Healthy Body Image in Teens and Adolescents: A Guide for Parents
- The Illusion of Prom Perfection
- The Risks of a Negative Self-Image
- Obesity and Depression: A Guide for Parents
- Talking about Sexual Behavior
- Talking to Kids About Sex
- The Development of Children: The First Two Years
- Raising Mentally Healthy Babies and Toddlers
- Developing Positive Relationships and Self-Esteem
- The Search for Autonomy and Independence
- Learning Self-Control
- Raising Children Who Want to Help Others
- Supporting a Shy Child
- Kids and Friendships: How Much Involvement Should Parents Have?
- Emotional and Behavioral Health
- General Parenting Articles
- Parenting in the Digital Age
- Tips for Handling School Avoidance
- Healthy Family Magazine
- Family Advisory Council
- Family Liaison Program
- Resources for Parents
- Nutrition: What We Offer
- Children's Behavioral Health Resources
- Pet Visitation at Bradley Hospital
- Insurance and Billing
- Our Centers & Services
- Our Locations
- Parenting Matters
- Bradley Hospital Social Work Series
- Giving to Bradley Hospital
- Nursing at Bradley Hospital
The Search for Autonomy and Independence
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.
- Provide opportunities for children to explore their environment safely.
- Help distinguish situations that allow for some autonomy (choosing a bedtime story) and situations that do not ( whether to go to bed at bedtime).
- Work to disengage yourself and your child from power struggles. Your child needs your help to get "unstuck." In the long run, this will result in fewer battles and more cooperation.
- Use re-direction and distraction as alternatives to punishment.
- Provide structured choices.
How to Provide Structured Choices
- Identify the thing that needs to happen: Going to bed, getting dressed, picking up toys
- Provide two choices that are both acceptable to you.
- Emphasize that the child gets to choose from the options provided. For example: The child cannot decide whether 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 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."
- Remember to deal with and acknowledge your child's feelings. For example: "I know that you feel sad when its time to stop playing to go to bed."