Archived from June 2008
“I’m not listening! I’m not listening!” Is it possible for two 30 year olds who have: conquered mean landlords, even meaner bill collectors, a lifetime of hard times, and every odd against them –be unable to conquer a 4 YEAR OLD?!
In their heads, yes they’ve done EVERYTHING…but truly have they? Children can be out of control—especially if they don’t feel safe. SAFETY is an important concept that I will speak of over and over and over again. I truly feel that SAFETY is the number one issue of most kids with behavior issues.
So let’s look at the out of control child. We will first explore her behavior and then in the days following we will look at effective tools to bring the child into an emotionally, spiritually and physically safe place.
This out of control child I speak of is not afraid of you, or anyone for that matter. She despises you even more when you DEMAND respect from her. She will push you and push you, and then memorize how far it takes for you to jump over the edge. She deliberately disobeys–and doesn’t even know what the real concept of obedience looks like.
Her siblings resent her because she whines her way into getting what she wants. She never has to pick up toys or go find things for herself–even though she is capable. It is much easier as a parent to do it yourself than it is to fight constant battles.
The problem is, when she’s not fighting you, or disrespecting you-she is preciously sweet. She hugs you and tells you how much she loves you. It makes it even harder to believe that 20 minutes ago she pulled every piece of clothing she could find out of every drawer in the house and refused to pick any of it up. All the while screaming and crying, making “Go to H E double Hockey Stick” faces at you.
Who is this child??!?
Whoever you are–guilt will get you NO WHERE!!! You’ve done everything you possibly can to “control” this child so no condemnation here! My own children are FAR FAR from perfect.
Luckily, we don’t aim for perfection in life–we work on progressing! I honestly believe that you have done everything possibly that you KNOW HOW! So perhaps I can teach you a few things that will be helpful.
First and foremost, this child wants YOU to be in control. When she has to control circumstances, she feels uncomfortable and in the wrong place. She wants to know that YOU AS THE ADULT have everything within reason and know what to expect and how to deal with things.
This child is acting out on insecurity. Her anger increases as you progress out of control. The more out of control she is, the more insecure you are. The more insecure you are, the angrier and more out of control she is. WOW what an ugly, vicious, vicious cycle.
I mentioned previously (3) ways for a child to feel safe… there are several more sub-categories, but let’s touch on the primary ones:
Emotional: Children need to feel SAFE to express their emotions without criticism, but do so in a way that does not harm anyone around them. Additionally, a child needs to know that emotionally you don’t feel threatened, because that will give them the freedom to explore what and how they feel.
Spiritual: Children need to feel a sense of spiritual SAFETY knowing that regardless of who they are, or what they’ve done, God is always present and always loving them. Some children after an emotional episode are filled with self-condemnation. Loving kids with grace and mercy is imperative to them growing to a fully devoted relationship to Christ.
Physical: Children who have out of control emotions will often destroy what is around them. Placing them in an environment where they can’t physically hurt themselves is necessary to proper discipline.
A rule I use with my own children as well as others is:
IF YOU ARE ANGRY–YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO HURT YOURSELF, THINGS OR OTHER PEOPLE!
Over the next few days we will explore how to protect your child emotionally, spiritually and physically and how by doing this, your child will sense safety. When you child senses they are safe, their behavior will ultimately change.
This is a process–this is not ‘FIX YOUR CHILD BY THE WEEKEND.’ God works everything in process. Even though He had the power to create the world and everything in it immediately, he chose to do it in 6 days–and then rest.
Stay tuned and stay hopeful. God loves your child more than you do…Ultimately He’s in control–so you don’t HAVE to be!