Tag Archives: out of control

Understanding Shared Power

When I tell parents to share power with their child, they get nervous. “Wait, I’m the parent? Aren’t I the one in charge?” Absolutely. Sharing power means that you both stand in your personal power. It does not mean that your child has the same power that you do. You are the parent, the authority, the one in charge, and the more you are confident in that power, the safer and more cared for your child feels. It’s when you lose it, when your temper flares and you feel out of control that your child feels unsafe and confused and will react accordingly. When power is lost, your child fears what is happening and may grab what power he can.

We have a choice—we can hold the power, giving our child none, keeping the dominator model; we can give our power away when we lack confidence, are afraid of power and give our children more than they can handle; or we can share it, insuring that all family members feel confident, strong and able to get their needs met. A child needs a cup of power compared to the many gallons of the parent.

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Misbehavior = Mis(taken)behavior

Your child’s behavior is only the tip of the iceberg. Don’t take it literally. It has emotional triggers hidden beneath the surface. This is where your attention is to be directed. When we see only the behavior and decide it is either good or bad and should be either rewarded or punished, we are missing the boat—actually the boat will hit the huge section of iceberg beneath the water’s surface and sink. Our parenting culture is programed to look only at behavior and try to change it to suit us. This is manipulative and teaches children to be manipulative.

All behavior is perfect. It reflects and tells us how our children are doing. We should be grateful for it. If behavior is age and temperament-appropriate, even if it’s annoying, it tells us our child is fine. If it is inappropriate, out of control, violent, etc. it tells us our child is having a problem. So when we see the behavior as “misbehavior”, we see it as bad and therefore have to change it, typically by using punishment. But we have actually misunderstood the nature of the behavior. We have mistaken it for something intentional. It is neither good nor bad but it does tell us if our child is needing help, is dealing with internal problems, unmet needs, upsets that provoke the behavior. If we “miss the boat” and see only the behavior, it gets worse and more dramatic in an effort to finally be heard.

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