How do we get through?
It’s a perennial issue. We humans, regardless of age, are really quite focused on having our own needs met. Before you say, but I am really thoughtful, and I don’t understand why I have this ongoing issue with my children.
The problem is, that often, what you may believe the problem is, is often from your perspective. As parents, we can also make an awful lot of assumptions based on what meanings we create about the behaviour.
Recently read Raising Human Beings by Dr Ross Greene, of The Explosive Child fame. In the book, the focus is around building from a foundation of mismatched expectations and how to move forward.
When we explore the battle of wills, at its core is a mismatch in expectations. It’s the challenge of what I want the outcome to be, and what my child is seeking to express and achieve. Therefore, I believe we are battling wills because my child is not conforming to my wishes.
Beliefs and HEALTHY Boundaries
Then, depending on our own beliefs, we can become resentful because our child is unable to conform. However, what if we were to accept though our child is not trying to “buck” our system, or disrespect our wishes, and more that they are expressing what they perceive as their wishes.
The gap then becomes, how to create the HEALTHY boundaries, rather than me being only bigger and stronger and over-riding them and their behaviour. Almost like the traditional “because I said so”, it’s important to also be wiser and kinder (from Raising a Secure Child, by Hoffman, Cooper and Powell).
One of the easiest ways to progress through this mismatch in expectations is for the adult to remember that unlike their child, they have the capability to pause, and to accept that their child is doing the best they know how, in that moment in time.
Not ONLY Bigger and Stronger
What I have noticed in the past, is that the conflict happened because I was using bigger and stronger, and missing out the wiser and kinder part of being a parent. That part which is unconditional love, accepting them as they are, so that I could support them with their needs.
For those of us who may not have had a whole lot of experience with wiser and kinder parenting, it can be a little tough to take that perspective. I know I had all the intentions in the world to be a wiser and kinder parent than my perception and recollection of the way that I was parented, and yet, nature will always take the path of least resistance and that means that without conscious decision making we inevitably repeat the pattern of our childhood. It’s what’s familiar to us, even if we didn’t like it much.
I don’t know about you, there came a point in my child rearing when I realised, whoops, I am becoming my mother. To the point that my kids knew that one way to create a break state was to say, wow “that was so Nanna”. It’s moments like that where I also realised how much our children notice, even if they don’t necessarily comment along the way.
Our children do know us way more than we realise.
Yes, they may push our buttons, however it’s a mistake to view this as manipulation, because that presupposes that we have no power to avoid buying into their behaviour.
It also presupposes that they push buttons on purpose. Especially really young children, particularly under the age of ten.
They do what works.
What that means is, that when we put on our wiser self, what we can do is acknowledge our own weakness in that specific area and accept that it’s something for us to work on. Rather than blaming our child for finding it. Accept the gift in that discovery, rather than being mad about.
AT under ten they don’t yet have the capacity to connect cause and effect, as in, they don’t know why it works, they just know it does. Invariably, also at a completely subconscious level. It’s the micro communication world between a parent and a child that we actually train each other, without conscious intention, to respond and react in particular way
When we get mad about our child pushing our buttons, the battle of wills happens because we are in self-protection mode, rather than parenting protector mode. The opportunity is to give ourselves grace and be grateful to our child for being a mirror to help us become an even better version of ourselves.
How do you go with reflection?
As parents, it is not our child’s job to fit our needs, it is ours to recognise and meet their needs, so that ours can be met.
When we can get this fundamental order optimised, our lives can become so much more fulfilled and peaceful as our child builds his trust in our desire for his best interests.
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Author – Leanne G Wakeling – Relationship and Communication Coach, Parenting Mentor, Behaviour and Thinking Styles Profiler.