Wednesday, April 4, 2007

The Last Two Mistaken Goals

I'm combining the last two mistaken goals, so we can conclude the chapter. These come from Children The Challenge, written by Rudolph Dreikurs, MD in 1964. These are bit dreary but important for us as grandparents to recognize. Here goes. "The third mistaken goal arises from the intensification of the power contest. When parent and child become increasing involved in a power struggle and each tries to subdue the other, a transaction of intense retaliation may develop. The child, in his discouragement, may proceed to seek revenge as his only means of feeling significant and important. By now he is convinced that he can't be liked and doesn't have any power; that he counts only if he can hurt others and feel hurt by them. And so his mistaken goal becomes retaliation and revenge."
You've probably seen these children around and if you haven't just watch one episode of Super Nanny. They are the ones who beat up their siblings or physically attack their parents at bedtime. Children the Challenge says these are the children who need the most encouragement. "It takes genuine understanding and acceptance of the child to help him rediscover his worth. The recommendation is that these children don't need punishment, punishment only makes them feel like a 'bad' person and provide him/her with further incentive to provoke, which will lead to further retaliation. If you are dealing with this type of problem, let me know, I will mail you the book. For starters, I would suggest the author's much repeated wisdom ---stay out of fights with children. If they are fighting with other children separate the children.
The fourth goal is demonstrated by the completely discouraged child. By now, he is feeling complete inadequacy. "A completely discouraged child gives up entirely; he feels that he has no chance to succeed in any way, be it by useful or useless means. He becomes helpless and uses his helplessness, exaggerating any real or imagined weakness or deficiency, to avoid any task where his expected failure may be even more embarrassing. The seemingly stupid child is frequently a discouraged child who uses stupidity as a means of avoiding any effort whatsoever." The psychologist says that when a parent starts saying, "I give up" they can be pretty sure that this is exactly what the child wanted her to feel. Its as if the child said "Give up mother. It's no use. I'm worthless and hopeless. Just let me alone." This is a heart wrenching situation for both the parents and the child. They need to feel close to each other. The child needs to feel competent and confident.
Children the Challenge is a good guide book to keep handy. It's revealed to me some of the 'mistakes' I've made with my own children and the ones I don't want to repeat as a grandparent. It's the kind of guide book (one of zillions out there) that brings problems to the light where they can be examined and resolved.

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