Control issues pop up whenever we deal with people, including ourselves. Humans need to control for various reasons and in relationships it is destructive. Everyone needs appropriate attention and when we don’t get it things happen.
Sometimes we seek power or revenge or we may feel so inadequate that we strive to control the situation in obvious or hidden ways. In truth people often set up control issues and we react by feeling guilty and giving in; someone forgets to be the adult in the situation.
Not enabling people to gain unhealthy control means not getting side-tracked and using techniques to keep focused. Nagging means someone else is in control.
One way to help children learn to be responsible for their own choice is to start out by giving them two good choices even as young as six months. They can choose between toy one and toy two.
Recognizing when someone seeks to control us and not letting it happen is important in all relationships. Adults don’t seek to control others.
Too often we bite into the anger of others. Lifelong success and joy is learning to express our anger appropriately without hurting our self or others. Giving children as much positive control as possible and stating the consequences of an act clearly solves many problems.
Detractions from the issue are not understanding what we did wrong, the consequences of our misdeed and a lack of follow through. People speed excessively because they don’t get caught often enough. They know they are wrong and they know the consequences.
One error in discipline that we often make is creating a requirement that wipes out three-fourths of the work done if they fail late in the game. Discipline that fits the error sets the boundaries so the child knows what he should do.
Punishment simply relieves parents’ frustration, but doesn’t always help the child learn how to correct the wrong behavior. A journey of literacy builds relationships and knowledge.
A guilty conscience means you feel lousy inside, but it doesn’t always change behavior. Children are no different than adults. They act well one day and lousy the next.
Trust cannot develop properly if the child is seen as too, too good or too, too bad.
Do you still throw a temper tantrum? At age 2, 5 or 6 tantrums may be normal, and once again at ages 13-15. Hopefully, we stop throwing tantrums after that age even when there seems to be a great need — tantrums admit we have no control. Pouting is the other side of tantrums.
Control issues may be enhanced by over-reacting or walking away from the person which means they are in charge. Throwing up red flags such as “or else” diminishes the lesson.
Some people learn to control through crazy behavior even vomiting or illness and these controls are harder to detect.
Attachments to others are essential for healthy development. Some signs of a lack of attachment are poor eye contact, a lack of trust, pushing to the outmost limits, even overeating and many others.
Conscious attachment to a person is necessary and healthy. At ages 3-5 children have an innate fear that they will lose their parent or parents. Guilt appears as children grow, at first though they only do the right thing if an adult is around and this stage lasts until about eight.
By age 9 they can choose to do right when an adult is not around. It is important to not set up a child to lie or to “people please.” Lasting values come from inside and are expressed in outward ways.
I must have needed a lesson once about that age as granddad asked what I would do if I was alone with a pile of a thousand pennies.
I don’t remember my answer, but I remember feeling proud when Granddad said, “You are old enough and I could leave the room with those pennies and trust you wouldn’t take even one.”
Healthy attachment allows us to have less need for control. A child who goes to everyone equally says no one is special. Babies don’t love; they react. At first, love needs practice and our response sets the scene.
In adoption, telling a child that birth parents gave them away because they loved them so much lets them assume that if you love them you will give them away.
Like adults, children often talk about doing something and then not doing it or act like a clown because they feel insecure and want to hide their feelings.
Remember you deserve help if you feel uncontrollable rage, so don’t ignore the signs. When you seek and apply new insight you can then create a conducive learning environment for your child and all your relationships profit.
Until next week — Christine Pauley