Posted in Behavior, Big Kids

4 yr old power struggle

Constantly battling him particularly at night but sometimes throughout the day. The other night he says he wants me to brush his teeth in his room. I try to give him options such as he may brush his teeth in his room but if he wants me to brush it has to be in the bathroom. This back and forth went on for about 40 minutes. He would yell and at one point woke his brother up, so I finally caved and walked with him into his room to brush. Then he says I want you to brush my teeth in the bathroom. Eventually something happened that made him laugh and it completely changed his mood and we finally brushed....how do I shut this behavior down?

  • AdamAnt
    Apr 26

    One of our littles went through this when they were four, and sometimes still does. We found that if we talked with them outside of the meltdown time, we could figure out together what was causing the stress. It isn’t something so much to “shut down” as it is something to investigate & understand feelings. Sometimes it’s a bedtime delay tactic; sometimes it’s due to a stressor - but in working together as a family, they’re happening less.

  • Alexis
    Apr 27

    Dont engage in the power struggle. Offer options you're comfortable with and then give them a chance to choose. Let them know that if they dont choose you will choose for them. And then just follow through. But also consider whether ots worth the fight and what your motivations are. In your example, why were you unwilling to brush his teeth in his bedroom vs the bathroom, but you were willing to let him brush his teeth in his bedroom? It's only a power struggle if you're both struggling for power just for the sake of power. I hope that doesnt come across wrong. Totally dont mean any judgement at all! Just mean to say that it's good to consider our motivations, too, when setting limits :)

  • Hilary
    Apr 27

    No I get it. That was my way of giving him an option. The whole back and forth went on in the bathroom so I didn’t see a point in going to his room to brush when we were already in the bathroom.