Who is in Control? Part Two

Who's in Control-Part 2Two weeks ago this was posted, but only went to a few subscribers.  An update to the software was supposed to fix it so it goes to all of you.  I feel the post is important enough to resend out so everyone can have the opportunity to read it.

In my post “Who is in Control-Part One”, I told a story about a little boy who had figured out if he had a tantrum he could get his mother to give him a candy bar to stop his tantrum.  Eventually, with help, his mother figured out how to set up the situation differently and not have him tantrum.  One subscriber wrote me and questioned the situation, asking me, “What is the difference if she offers the reward in the store- the car or even at home for that matter? The child still understands – I am going to get my way, tantrum or not. I want a candy bar when we go to the store and I’m going to get one.”  I love that a subscriber brought to my attention that I left some things out of that post. I apologize.  Sometimes, I think I have made clear in the post what’s in my head.  Thanks Mark, for bringing up some valid points.

Mark’s question helped me realize that I need to explain why the child, in the end, wasn’t in control of the situation, but was, eventually, able to be in control of himself.  His mother agreed with me that it was better never to have him tantrum in the first place, so she started to tell him, prior to going into the store, that he could EARN a candy bar if he behaved and didn’t tantrum.  If he did tantrum, then no candy bar.  Instead of being given a reward for stopping a behavior he shouldn’t have been doing in the first place, which helps to teach entitlement (The “Principal” of Entitlement), he had to EARN the candy bar by exhibiting the correct behavior from the beginning.  He was told by his mother what her expectation was of him before he was able to earn the reward.  She was now being proactive by setting the parameters ahead of time.  Before this intervention, his mother reacted after the unwanted behavior occurred, which completely placed the young boy in charge.

Mark also brought up the point, “Does the mom even want the child to have a candy bar every time they go to the store?”  He further stated that he never promised his kids a treat every time they went shopping and they never had a tantrum.  Mark understood it was his responsibility “to instill in my child an understanding about choices, possibilities, options and compromises in any given situation so we did not have to resort to an exhausting power struggle to exert control.”  My response is, “Yippee! That is exactly what you should be doing!”  Unfortunately, the mother of this young boy sabotaged herself right off the bat by offering to give him something he hadn’t truly earned; creating that sense of entitlement.  We, then, had to go through the backdoor, so to speak, for remediation of the problem.  After her son stopped having tantrums, she was able to prolong giving the treat, make it a smaller treat, switch the reward to fun- time back home, and eventually, do away with all rewards except verbal praise.  People, young and old, like knowing what the expectations are so they can see they are being successful–and they are happier with themselves, too.  This young boy was able to show much better control of himself and was a much happier child as a result of his truly gaining control of his own behavior instead of gaining control of his mother’s behavior.

I hope this helps to clarify this concept a little more.  Come back in two weeks, when I will be telling a story of how my mother thought she was punishing me, when in fact, I was being highly rewarded.

Be kinder than necessary, be grateful, and create a peace-filled week,

Ms. Brown

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