Monday, April 2, 2007

Mistaken Goal #2

Not the most pleasant of topics, but the next mistaken goal of children, some of you may be observing is the --- struggle for power. This information is from the Children the Challenge book written in 1964, by Rudolph Dreikurs, M.D.
"The struggle for power, then, is the second mistaken goal and usually occurs after the parent has tried for some time forcibly to stop the child's demands for attention. The child then becomes determined to use power to defeat the parent. He gains an immense sense of satisfaction from refusing to do what the parent wants him to. Such a child feels that if he were to comply with requests he would submit to a stronger power and would thereby lose his sense of personal value. This fear of being overwhelmed by greater power is a devastating reality to some children and leads to terrifying efforts to demonstrate their own power. You can imagine how bad the last two mistaken goals are, if this second one is so depressing. But, hopefully you and I and our grand children's parents will never get stuck in the second goal, because we will learn to discern the needs of the children in our care.
This second mistaken goal is the familiar power struggle. This type of struggle for power exists says Dreikurs "when the parent and child each attempt to show the other who is boss." I think we all have been here with our own children at some time or other. The time to help them learn that they are not the boss and that they need our guidance is when they are young. The best way to help them not become discouraged is too not engage in the power struggle. Dreikurs says, When we find ourselves involved in a power contest, we can withdraw from the field of battle and not allow ourselves to become engaged in the contest. There is no point in being the victor of an empty field.
Day care grandparents who are spending the majority of the daytime hours with a child may or may not encounter this situation. This however, is a problem I think can be 'nipped in the bud' if it starts to appear. If it isn't resolved the third mistaken goal retaliation and revenge usually ensues. The other night I watched a program about a prison in Illinois, Statesville Prison. I was overwhelmed by sadness in seeing the amount of prisoners and the comments made about how in almost every situation they cannot be reformed. Even the few that make it back to the outside world, usually end up back in the prison. Each of these criminals started as a young child who needed love and attention. What happened along the way is probably more complex than can ever be comprehended. What turned them to live in darkness and corruption? What led to the incarceration many many of them will experience for a whole lifetime? As I watched the hardened prison faces I wondered if their having had mistaken goals from early childhood was possibly one explanation for their downfall.
The fourth mistaken goal discussed in the book is complete inadequacy or the completely discouraged child. My blog entries are not delving into the in depth picture the way the Psychologist does throughout the book. So many other influences shape our personalities and our world. I am conveying parts of this book to help myself and others be more conscious of the needs of the child, the ones they sometimes want to get met in unconscious ways, the ones grandparents can recognize and fill.... WIT LOVE.

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