“Bedtime!” we trill.
Tonight, my husband and I hope that, for once, our children will say, “Okay!” and dutifully tromp up the stairs for pajamas, tooth brushing, and lights out.
Wouldn’t that be magical?
But let’s not kid ourselves, that is just not going to happen most of the time. And when they resist, and we respond with “because I said so,” or “you have to go to bed,” what we are doing is asserting our power over them. I am bigger, older, and more powerful than you so you have to do what I say. That can feel disrespectful to the child and invites resistance.
Cue: “I don’t wanna go to bed!!”
We need to look at it from their point of view. Our children have little to no control over much of their daily lives.
We wake them up for school or daycare. We tell them to get dressed and go to the bathroom. At school they are told where to be, when to be there, and what to think about. Then at home we tell them to practice an instrument or sport. And then we tell them what to eat!
Telling them when to go to bed can be the last straw. That is why most power struggles revolve around their physical self or body.