What Happens When We Try to Take Control?

defiance defiant parenting parenting myths parenting styles strong-willed kids warmth Dec 13, 2021
What Happens When We Try to Take Control?

Maybe you’re here asking us “What happens when we take control?”

Let’s use some analogies to illustrate:

Analogy #1

Picture a tug-o-war game. You have people on each side of the rope pulling against each other. When we reach into our kids' boundaries and we try to take control of things that should be in their control, our kids then start to feel tugging. They then want to pick up the rope and pull harder and say, “No. I’m in control.” And then you’re pulling the opposite way and say, “No, I’M in control” and this tug-o-war starts. 

Analogy #2

Now, picture yourself driving a car. And when you’re driving, somebody in the passenger seat starts grabbing the steering wheel. You would naturally freak out and you would start focusing on fighting for control over the wheel. You wouldn’t be focused on where you’re going or if there are obstacles in the way. You would start jerking and tugging hard to try to get control back. You may even tug so hard that you topple the car.

We don’t want either scenario to happen.

But we see this happen over and over again especially with strong-willed kids. They can start to tug the steering wheel to try to prove to you that they have control. They don’t pay attention to where they are headed in life or what obstacles may be coming. They’re just going to jerk that steering wheel through their actions just to say, “I’m in control of my life.” 

We want our kids to have their hands on the steering wheel of their life and for them to pay attention to where they want to go and how they want to get there and whether they’re going to be responsible about it or not. But none of that happens when we start tugging on the steering wheel. 

With this, we’ll say something that we constantly teach in our coaching and our free parenting classes: Get your hands off the steering wheel.

The other thing that happens that is proven by research is that when we are trying to exert control and tell our kids what to do, they actually ignore us and want to do the opposite. The message that we want to come across falls on deaf ears. 

I used to feel uncomfortable about letting go and letting my kids have more control over their choices. It felt counterintuitive for me and I would always debate with myself over things like:

“Am I giving too much control?” 

“Is this something age-appropriate for them to have control over?”

But now that I’ve seen why it is important and how it benefits my kids through the years, I won’t ever go back.

This is something that a lot of parents struggle with. So we have to do our best job as parents to reason and think through it and maybe even talk to someone about it.

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