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 December 10, 2010


Parents learn strategies to resolve power struggles with children

Story & photos by Rob Schuette, Public Affairs Staff

Parents in the Fort McCoy community learned about methods to overcome parent/children power struggles over the upcoming holidays and beyond at a Nov. 30 Child, Youth and School (CYS) Services workshop.

Julee Katona of the Family Resources organization of Tomah talks about parent/adult and child conflicts/struggles during a workshop at Fort McCoy. Photo by Rob Schuette
Julee Katona of the Family Resources organization of Tomah talks about parent/adult and child conflicts/struggles during a workshop at Fort McCoy.

Julee Katona of Family Resources of Tomah, Wis., presented the workshop, “Strategies to Avoid Power Struggles.”

Family Resources is a non-profit agency providing information about parent/adult and child interaction.

Becky Walley of the Fort McCoy CYS Services said the workshop was offered as part of the CYS Services quarterly workshop series. The event also helped promote strong Families and support the goals of the Army Community Covenant, Walley said.

Katona said people come to these workshops because of parent/adult and children conflicts and a desire to successfully mitigate them. With the holidays coming up, potential conflicts may exist with presents, etc. However, conflicts can occur throughout the year and require attention when they happen, she said.

One of the big things parents can do to help reduce conflicts with their children is to develop routines and rhythms as they find them in their own lives, Katona said.

“Children need routine and rhythm in their lives also,” Katona said. “Parents often develop these routines around meal times, bed times or another daily event.”

A good way to help children visualize a routine is to post photos or drawings on a refrigerator depicting the steps of the routine so children become familiar with them and have a reference point, she said.

Parents also need to view themselves as role models for their children. Often, children will observe how adults act in a particular situation, such as answering the phone, for example, and imitate that behavior.

“If you are a yeller and shout at the children, they will do the same,” Katona said. “Good behavior is caught, not taught.”

A better strategy is to always emphasize the positive with children. Katona said adults can do this by empowering their children by valuing their positive contributions.

Children also want their parents’ attention, she said. Parents can give attention to children by scheduling one-on-one time with each child and doing things the child enjoys doing. This can be a helpful strategy to help reduce sibling rivalry that arises from competing for parents’ attention as each child knows he or she will have specific time for themselves with their parents, she said.

Katona said parents often can make their points better by being on eye level when talking with a child and sending them to a neutral area instead of a corner, which can be demeaning, when they have done something wrong.

“Using humor and making it magical also can help change the environment and a child’s frame of mind by making an event fun,” she said. “It breaks the tension.”

For more information about the quarterly workshops, call Walley at 608-388-6814/8956.

Parents with parenting questions can get more information by calling Family Resources at 608-374-4190 (Tomah), 608-269-3151, Ext. 6116 (Sparta) or 1-800-873-1768 (La Crosse) or by visiting the website http://www.laxfamilyresources.org.

Parent educators will offer free advice about potty learning, discipline, communication, development, transitions and more and are available Monday-Thursday 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. and Fridays 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Questions also can be e-mailed to fswift@centurytel.net.

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