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Are you banging your head against a brick wall?
Parenting Power Admin June 11, 2015 No Comments

Are you banging your head against a brick wall?

The two of us spend our lives in a natural laboratory – that is, we get to observe parenting all around us, every day. This means that we see a lot of parents banging their heads against brick walls all day long. We have also learned that the easiest way to make the pain stop, is to stop banging one’s head against the wall.

Sounds obvious doesn’t it? It is, once we gain an awareness of what is going on. Many times a day, we hear kids pushing back – fighting for control. They use their words and their actions to express their dislike for a situation. Almost as often, we see parents pushing back, fighting for control over their kids. They push harder and louder than their kids. And what do the kids learn? To push back even harder.

This is that brick wall we mentioned earlier.

Are you banging your head against a brick wall?

Kids learn what they live and when they learn that the loudest and most defiant person gets their way, kids will strive to become that person.

When kids learn that their defiance is met with a calm, consistent, respectful response, they learn the calm, consistent and respectful response over time.

What does that look like in real life?

When your 5 year old screams,

“Give me the piece of cake with the strawberry on it! I WANT THE PIECE WITH THE STRAWBERRY!”

What happens next?

A) “NO CAKE FOR YOU!” Followed by a screaming tantrum from the child and possibly the parent as well.

B) Fear of a tantrum so giving in to the child, “Okay sweetie, here is the strawberry, of course you get the strawberry, just please stop screaming.”

C) “Jenny, how can you ask for the cake in a calm way? When you can use a calm voice, I’m ready to listen.”

When your 13 year old states,

“I’m not cleaning my room and YOU CAN’T MAKE ME!”

What happens next?

A) You scream back, “WATCH ME!” and permanently empty the entire room. At the height of the excitement, someone’s fist goes through the drywall.

B) You give in and ‘make him happy’ by getting him an ice cream

C) “Wow, we both feel pretty strongly about this. We need to figure out how to solve this problem. Let’s talk about it this evening when we are both a bit less emotional about it. It needs to happen, we just have to figure out when and how.”

Consider this:

As adults, we may well have defiant responses which we have learned to keep in our heads. When our boss says, “I need you to get that report done by tomorrow morning,” we may silently say, “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!” and then we probably get it done.

Our kids haven’t quite learned to internalize that voice – they feel defiant and it comes right out their lips. Just because a child says NO doesn’t mean that he isn’t considering our request in his head and figuring out when to do it.

Bottom line:

When defiance is met with defiance, we have a power struggle. We are banging our head against a wall. When we meet defiance with a question about how to allow a solution, the headache stops.

3 ways to stop the banging

How could you ask that with kindness?
What would make this situation better?
How do we solve this problem?

This week: Start with awareness – is there some regular defiance in your home? If so, what will you say to change the script? It could be as simple as asking a question and changing the way you see your child and the way your child sees herself.

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