What is a Power Reversal Game?

What is a power reversal game and why do they exist?

A power reversal game is a game in which control is given to the child and the adult presents as the weaker character. But what benefit does a power reversal game have?

Day to day, children regularly experience having less power than adults. Every day, they are told to brush their teeth, when to eat, when to shower, what to clean, they are constantly being put into a position of having little to no power. And while teaching our children cooperation and obedience is a positive thing, the reality is that children are individuals who feel the need to have control of their lives.

Can you imagine how frustrating it is to constantly be told what to do and never be able to express approval or disapproval of it? Always being “bossed” around and not being able to express that frustration is what causes real stress and ultimately leads to irritability, anxiety and defiance in children. Power reversal games give young children the opportunity they wouldn’t have otherwise to release any built-up emotions about feeling powerless and out of control.

Now, the question you may be asking yourself is “won’t these types of games cause the child to feel as if they should always be in charge?”

In short, no. 

Giving children an outlet like this will cause them to be more willing to follow instruction and less defiant. This happens because of the connection you create with your child while playing these types of games. When they see that respect is mutual, they will be happier about completing the tasks you set out.

Think of it like this: when you feel appreciated and respected at your job, you are more likely to complete tasks joyfully. When the opposite is true, it’s more likely you’ll dread doing any work.

Power reversal games are also extremely helpful for kids dealing with anxiety and other mental illnesses. These types of games encourage confidence that can help when learning to cope.

See: 8 Ways to Support an Anxious Child

It’s important to provide a safe space to release these pent up emotions. When we do, we show them that they are seen, heard, respected and valued. This will in the long run give back 10 fold!

How Often Should We Play These games?

These types of games should be a part of daily life. This is because children are being put into powerless situations every day. It’s is essential to build them up more than we use power over them. Power reversal games are a great way to do that. 

Power Reversal Game Ideas

Role Reversal

  • Pretend that you are a helpless victim in need of rescue and have your child be the one to save the day! Make sure you tell them how thankful you are and shower them with affirmation.

  • Let them be the Queen or King and you be the servant

Mirroring Game

Encourage your child to lead with actions that you will mirror. They are in charge. Whatever they do, you follow!

Play Fighting

  • Pillow Fights are so fun! As you play, communicate how they can’t get you and once they do make it a big deal. Pretend you are very weak and fall over safely.

  • Use foam swords to have a sword fight. Use the same idea as in the pillow fight example and pretend you’re weak.


If you begin playing these kinds of games regularly, they will become second nature to you in no time. Your child will relate to you on an even deeper level. Nothing creates confidence in children more than knowing that they can be fully themselves, big emotional and all, and still be completely safe.

Comment below if you have any other ideas for power reversal games!


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