[Sharing] I Love Power Struggles

It’s a Sunday morning and a cold-enough-to-stay-in-your-comforter-longer kinda weather. Nathan has suddenly appeared in between Elvin and I again. (Bed space invader!) Being a slightly (really just a bit k!) obsessed-with-how-cute-my-kids-are mother, I just keep looking at this peacefully sleeping boy. Aww… Such an angel….. NOT! Hahaha.. (Disclaimer: sometimes la.) 
 
The thing is I love Nathan but I don’t love those times he behaves poorly or is rude to others. I seriously think there is a teenager in him now, because some times he really behaves like a rebellious big boy! So many occasions the thought of “if only he is as cute and as peaceful as when he is asleep” comes to me but Nathan cannot be sleeping always right?
 
Recently, we have been in situations when power struggles are long and draining. We feel quite defeated sometimes and we are permanently in this state of reflection and review, trying hard to think if we are doing something wrong or missing out on his certain needs. We want to help Nathan grow up to be a godly and loving man. We want to be good stewards of the gift that God has given us..
 
Until one day, my sister in law who specializes in counselling work and psychological areas, praised us for the power struggles! We got praised and commended for engaging in power struggles?!
 
We gathered from her that because we care and love the children, we want them to learn and be good people when they grow up and hence, we don’t leave discipline to happen by chance or allow character to form somehow. We could have taken the easier way out and brush all the unpleasant moments and incidents aside but it does not benefit the children at all. Repetition is tiring but needed as guiding and grooming is a continual process and it is INTENTIONAL. One problem ignored today, can become two problems tomorrow and many problems next week.
 
WOW. So we are doing the right thing! 
 
Seriously, who doesn’t want to take the easier way out and choose to stuff Nathan an iPhone at meal times so I can feed him faster and we can continue with other activities? So here, we want to encourage parents who are feeling drained and possibly at the verge of just letting it go (NOOOO! Not this song again!), that we are in it together and you are not alone!
 
Here we list 10 power struggles we have and hope it resonates with you.
 
1) Self-feeding
“You can eat on your own.”
“Teacher Shaf didn’t feed you in school, right?”
“You are a big boy now”
No matter how long he whines, we persist. Seriously, it is actually easier to just feed him but I cannot imagine still feeding him at 7years old or 17 years old. (Ewwww.. 😱) So I better train him NOW.
 



2) Finishing dinner
Be it Nathan feeding himself or us feeding him, sometimes is like war time. He will insist he is full when he barely touched his food or try to escape by requesting to go to the toilet. HOWEVER, we will always plant him back into his highchair. 
Dinner can take really long but we are serious about family being at the dining table together and no one gets a toy or distractor. 
 
3) Rudeness
“I don’t like you”
“I don’t want you”
We don’t know where he picked up these lines but it is irritating because it is rude and hurtful. Again, we could just brush it off by ignoring it or simple say “don’t say that pls” but that wouldn’t help Nathan understand what he does make others sad. Each time he says those, we would
(1) stop him, 
(2) ask him to explain why he said that and if there is a better way to say it (e.g he screamed “I don’t want you” to my helper because he wanted to keep his books himself. He could say “can I keep the books myself pls? I can do it myself” instead)
(3) apologise to the person whom he said it to
However, sometimes this process takes really long because Nathan is also angry at the situation and himself and he ended up feeling embarrassed and more repulsive. Frankly, do we like this power struggle? Nope. But did we continue to still go through it, yes. Oh.. How I love power struggles. 😲
 
4) Packing toys and books
It is faster for me to just grab everything and put them back. However, we are talking about good habits here. My kids have to keep their own things and we  don’t move on to next activity until this is done.
P/S: also because I really hate stepping on those little trains. My poor foot!!!!
 
5) Bed time and Naptime
Especially for Naptime. Just close your eyes, stop singing and sleep! You know how much sleep debt your poor parents have? When you grow up, you won’t even remember what a nap is! Enjoy it while you can!
“No more Let It Go! Just sleep ok..”
“No more break dancing on your bed. You will hurt your neck.”
“When you wake up, you will have more energy to play!”


6) Punishments
Okok.. I admit first.. I am soft hearted sometimes and will change some canning moments to naughty corner. And I cannot wait to give my kids a hug once they admit they are wrong. They are crying so badly already….
 
BUT each time we give in, they nudge closer to the boundaries and closer to challenging the rules.
 
Nathan knows he gets two strokes of the cane if he lies. When we sense that he is not speaking the truth, we will ask him one more time if it is real and remind him about the punishment or consequence. 
 
Elvin always say “don’t threaten! Must execute!” I know I know.. But Mr Nathan is taking 15 minutes to stretch his hand out for the caning and I cannot aim properly when he is moving so much! The struggle is taking so long and he is crying so badly and telling me he is sorry BUT we still have to punish. You reap what you sow, son.
 
7) Relationship with the sister
Nathan can share his toys and food with the doggie from third floor but cannot do that with his sister. I don’t understand but I know he still loves the sister. Just that he is so rough.. 
 
Previously to minimize conflict or possible accidents, whenever we have to exit a while, we will shift phoebe to the playpen. However, we realised whenever nathan is unhappy with phoebe or doesn’t want to share or play with her, he will say “put meimei in the playpen!”
 
Easier way out was to keep them apart, torturous way is to put them together and they learn to be with each other. Phoebe needs to learn that she cannot just snatch from Nathan and Nathan has to learn that there is no need to react so aggressively. And for the parents, you have to be present always to guide and execute punishment if need be.
No prize for guessing which way we took…..
 



8) Please, thank you and Can I..
You don’t get the service or item until you ask properly and say thank you.
Even if you don’t want something you are offered, you cannot say “I don’t want”, you say “no, thanks”
 
Anyone who hangs out with us, hear us say this so often. Nathan must say “can I …, please ?” Someone asked me, how come after so long we are still reminding? 
 
Because it must be so natural that he no longer needs reminder and it won’t come naturally.
 
9) Saying sorry
The kids have to mean what they say by at least showing remorse, looking at the person before saying sorry. 
Nathan is stubborn and if he feels angry too, this saying sorry process can take a while. Easier to announce case close fast fast and go back to happy and fun activities but we are so pervertic because we love to torture ourselves and ensure he says sorry before anything else. Yup, we love power struggles. 🙂
 
10) Sharing
We are taking it slow but finding all teachable moments to emphasize the joy one get when he blesses others and receive a word of thanks. He also will get to see a happy smile and the world seems happier! Really hope to inculcate some hospitality in our kids but first, towards each other. 🙂
 
How? Do you feel better now? 🙂 Weirdly, as I typed, I feel more empowered to be in the power struggles. 🙂 
 
To being good stewards for these little gifts God gave, CHEERS!
Mummy Esther

Mother of Nathan 4yo & Phoebe 2yo
   Instagram: estherlaoshi 

Current MOE teacher
Head of Department for Character and Citizenship Education
Note from Mummies’ Voices:
This article was first published at Mummy Esther’s blog and submitted to Mummies’ Voices for sharing. Do follow The Foong Family’s blog if you enjoyed Mummy Esther’s sharing!

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