Try And Make Me! Power Struggles: A Book of Strategies for Adults Who Live and Work with Angry Kids


Penny Cuninggim, Ed.D., MSW

From its evocative title to the insightful strategies it contains, Try and Make Me! decodes power struggles between adults and the acting-out kids in their care. Who is responsible for power struggles and why do they occur? Why do kids start them and what’s the payoff? Penny Cuninggim has answers and techniques to effectively prevent, respond and defuse power struggles, drawing over 30 years of experience in residential and day settings. Try and Make Me! is a practical resource for expanding the caregiver’s repertoire of positive responses and a must read for parents and foster parents, public and special education teacher, therapists and counselors, child-care and group home staff, guardians ad litem, and case workers.

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Editorial Reviews

"This gem of a book should be required reading for everyone working in a setting with children. Dr. Cuninggim addresses the unnamed energy that flows between adults and youth that often derails the relationship. She makes a complex psychological dynamic accessible and understandable. She helps us as adults accept our part in power struggles while naming strategies and techniques that can help us stay out of them. Dr. Cuninggim explains the psychodynamics, provides meaningful and recognizable examples and offers a roadmap out of collisions. In this modest and useful book, one can feel the presence of the youngster fighting to be heard, contained, and respected. Quite an achievement.”
–Vicki Levi, M.D.; Psychiatrist, Boston, MA

“Before reading Dr. Cuninggim’s book, I never knew I was falling into power struggles. I just thought I was arguing with my clients at work or my children at home. Now I know better, and with that knowledge has come a new way of interacting. I am now able to deal at home and at work in a calm manner knowing both what my children and clients are doing and what to do about it. This book is such a wonderful resource for parents as well as those who in engage the public or other employees in their workplaces. I highly recommend it be read from cover to cover.”
–Susan Kuchyt, Pharmacist and parent of five children, Easthampton, MA

“In Try And Make Me Dr. Cunninggim provides useful, practical strategies for avoiding power struggles for teachers, counselors, administrators and others who work with children and adolescents. The empathetic tone of her writing, and her many years of experience in working with youth, provide the reader with confidence in her ability to understand the difficulties they face in their own work. Dr. Cunninggim offers a wide repertoire of responses to incidents that could turn into power struggles as well as methods of avoidance, interruption and diffusion of situations that have the potential to become explosive. This is a must have book for anyone who faces these challenges in their daily lives!”
–Maureen Bingham, Ed.D.; Principal, Conant Elementary School, Acton, MA


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Introduction to Book


Sample Chapter