Last week I wrote about behavior and decoding the challenging ones. In this blog I am going to explore the challenges that the controlling child can present.
If a child has a tendency towards control and is regularly given the opportunity by their parents to be controlling (unknowingly or because it is easier) the child may end up finding it hard to accept or cope with situations where they have no control or when someone says “no”. The result of which, usually being, that everyone suffers. Very often, chaos reigns, control meets control, tempers flare and it is no fun for anyone.
Why do some children become controlling?
In many cases, a child exerting control is often doing so because of a lack of confidence or belief in themselves of feeling CAPABLE (one of the 4 C’s of Adlerian Parenting). The goal of their behavior is therefore to prove themselves capable but they go about this in a controlling way which when viewed through their lens can look like this:
“I can control the family and I am really good at it. I’ll show you and prove to you that I am capable. What I say or do will go and I will have you running circles around me.”
How it can escalate to becoming a bigger problem
If this behavior is not dealt with and it becomes the default pattern, as the child gets older, not only can things get a lot worse at home but as they progress through school, they can begin to feel incapacitated with their seeming lack of control and may eventually start to give up and stop contributing altogether. They no longer feel capable because they no longer control the show. Seen through their eyes it can develop into something more like this:
“If I can’t control, what can I do? I could become revengeful and ultimately give up and stop trying. No-one can stop me doing that. I can be good at that too.”
This is when parents often get a call from the teacher requesting a meeting.
When dealing with the challenges of a controlling child, the goal is to help the child develop a tolerance towards things that they have no control over ie. things at school or not negotiable situations in the home. As a parent, always remember that you should be in control, it is your job to be in charge. A child is not yet equipped with the skills required to run the family or their own lives effectively.
Parenting Techniques that can help
- Be firm but kind, set very clear limits and boundaries (we know that this will help to increase their tolerance of frustration) and use consequences to allow your child to learn from the consequences of their actions. To refresh yourself on limits and consequences, you can always refer to my previous blogs
- Acknowledge and validate your child’s feelings of anger and frustration when they are no longer controlling the show
- The most important thing of all for parents is to be CONSISTENT. Inconsistency will only fuel the “control fire” further
- Your child needs to be made to feel that he / she is capable in as many different ways as possible. This is what will give them the self-confidence they so desperately need to allow them to move on without having to use methods of control in order to feel good about themselves and capable
- Think of what your child is good at and have them do as much of this as possible. Have them help you with something or help Dad (cooking dinner, mowing the lawn, or fixing something). Let them know that you wouldn’t have been able to have done it without them. Also remember one of my favorite parenting phrases: “Never do for a child what a child can do for themselves” as it robs them of feeling capable
- Fill them with encouragement
A combination of all of these things will help make a child feel safe and connected, capable and reliable. It will also give them courage to try something new, like not having to have control in order to feel capable. My advice to you is to try and nip this challenging behavior in the bud at a young age to reduce the risk of it becoming a bigger problem later on.
If you are dealing with a controlling child and need some help and encouragement as to how to deal with it, I’d be happy to hear from you.
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PPS. Sign up is now open for the new block of Adlerian Parenting Classes that I will be starting in West Vancouver in the fall. It will run from Sept – June (excl. Dec and March) from 12.30pm – 2pm on the third Wednesday of each month. For more details please click here EVENTS