Unhealthy dynamic developed between my son and myself. It erupts around issues of independence and self-sufficiency. I push for it (ex. ask him to put on his shoes, pants, etc.) and he demands “YOU DO IT” He does not do this to anyone else but me. How do I stay out of power struggles and make sure that he is doing developmentally appropriate tasks for himself. He is 3 and 3/4

asked 21 Jan '10, 22:15

Gosia's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%


I'm smiling, because I can imagine the little face they make when they say that, maybe punctuating it with a foot stomp!

When my kids do that, I let them know what the consequences of their actions are, and then follow through.

"Ok, I can tie your shoes for you, but if I do then I get to choose which shoes you wear," sometimes works, as they then realize that they lose some control over their choices if they have you do the work. I also make it clear that time I spend with them doing things they don't like, means less time I have to spend with them doing things they like. "Ok, but that means we won't get to the park as fast, and you'll lose five minutes of play time." I do give them time limits, and let them know what the consequences are, and later on if they complain I'll remind them that they chose to have me tie their shoes, lost 5 minutes of playtime, and perhaps they'll tie their own shoes next time.

I don't want to teach them that they must always do certain things by themselves, though. Because I ask them to do things around the house to help me, I try to develop a relationship where if they ask me to do something, and I have time, then I will probably do it. So far they seem to reciprocate.

I've also found sometimes it isn't stubbornness, but a request for special attention or contact. We have 5 boys, and I know that in the rush to get out the door sometimes one or more of them might feel alone in the bustle, so we do have to pay attention to their tone of voice, expression, and body language to see if there's some other reason than pure stubbornness.


answered 22 Jan '10, 04:38

Adam%20Davis's gravatar image

Adam Davis
accept rate: 31%

+1 for the reasoning!

(22 Jan '10, 06:00) Emi

I wanted to write an answer, but I don't think I have anything to add to this one.

(22 Jan '10, 06:48) Benjol

+1 - great response! I hope to use some of these techniques when we get to this stage (in a few years, I hope!)

(22 Jan '10, 18:49) Fun2Dream

I like Adam Davis's answer, but just thought I'd add another technique that has sometimes worked for me: Humour - for example, s/he asks you to put hir socks on for hir, you seem unsure about where they are supposed to go - do they go on hir ears, or perhaps hir hands? When I have done this it often ends with the child saying something like "No, don't be silly, they go like this" and putting them on hirself (trying to be gender-neutral here).


answered 24 Jan '10, 19:02

Meg%20Stephenson's gravatar image

Meg Stephenson
accept rate: 7%

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Asked: 21 Jan '10, 22:15

Seen: 3,392 times

Last updated: 24 Jan '10, 19:02