LEHI, UTAH –(Good Things Utah) Registered Play Therapist Brooke Bumgardner came to the show to share ways to managing your power struggles with the kids. In addition to being a Registered Play Therapist at Journey Family Counseling, Bumgardner is a Clinical Mental Health Counselor.

Being a play therapist has been advantageous in Bumgardner’s line of work as many children do not verbally express their frustrations or feelings, but often show that when they play. “[Many] kids aren’t verbal processors, they process through play,” said Bumgardner. “You learn ways to with kids to help them to process their feelings.”

One of the ways you can recognize a power struggle is kids experiencing meltdowns and fighting but it is also good to check in to see how the kids are feeling. Many will experience feelings of being threatened, provoked or defeated. Most power struggles are when there is a conflict between the parent and child such as butting heads over when bedtime is and outright defiance. Bumgardner compares it to a tug-of-war.

It is easy for parents to fight back when they feel a child is being disrespectful or talking back but Bumgardner suggests that might not be the best way to approach the subject. A better solution is to take a breather, identify the conflict and then use rationale to assess the situation and come up with a plan and solution. This differs from a time out as it is a positive experience instead of a negative. There can even be a safe word as almost a warning to present to kids. It is also instinctual as a parent to punish kids and think they will change after the punishment. Bumgardner feels children will do better when they feel better.