Thursday, April 02, 2009

Links: Hold On To Your Kids

Some interesting posts that came up when I was looking up Hold on to Your Kids:

This quote, from the last link, reminds me of this article Who's in Control? that I've mentioned before.

So why do children vie for the alpha position in the family? Children do not consciously decide to become alpha. It is a deeply embedded instinct that comes over them when they are feeling too insecure or vulnerable. Feeling vulnerable is often too much to bear for children so they instinctively try to take over in an attempt to feel safer and stronger.

It is easy to misread this behavior as something that it is not. As parents we are required to see children attempting to control things or ‘run the show’ as being insecure and vulnerable not as being bossy or manipulative. These children need their parents to take the rightful lead in the family. When parents assume the alpha role their children can settle back into their role of dependency on the parent and natural order within the family is restored.

Also, from leading the way for children:

Here are some ways Gordon suggests that parents assume or strengthen their role as alpha in their family:

a) Reduce the amount of physical and emotional separation between a parent and a child. If children experience too much separation, their brains become alarmed and their own alpha instincts to take charge kick in (more in my next article, “The Alpha Child”). The more a child displays alpha tendencies the less they are receptive to being guided by a parent.

b) Parents need to assume the responsibility for the relationship and for preserving the connection. It is up to us, as parents, to give our children an anchor to hold on to…. US.

c) It is important to tell our children that we are there for them and to come to us if they need help. When we encourage children to look to us for guidance and support they more readily attach to us and accept our parental authority.

d) Avoid doing or saying anything that cannot be backed up. Not being able to follow through with what we say weakens our alpha role and throws our leadership skills into question. An example of this would be insisting that a child go to sleep immediately. Given no one can fall asleep on demand, a more effective alpha statement would come after normal night time rituals and may sound like, “It’s bedtime now. Look at a book in bed until your eyes feel sleepy”.

e) Finally avoid setting children up for taking care of us. Children are not designed to lead their parents (alpha reversal). The less alpha instincts are triggered in children the more they will act as children and be receptive to being parented.


Stephanie said...

Man, did I ever see a fantastic example of that! Last Sunday, a little three year old girl whose parents are utterly flummoxed by her was playing (as I always allow) at the edges of a class of bigger kids. She gets to join in whenever she wants to, and I've instructed the older kids to just carry on.

But last Sunday, she decided to pull her brother's chair around, and he thought it was funny. I did not. Quite calmly, with a level and matter of fact voice, I said, "No, Diana. Timmy needs to pay attention," and then, "Timmy, you come over and get this other chair." He looked stunned, and if shock and resentment had the power to set things on fire, I'd be hairless today - from the dirty look I got from that three year old child.

But ... and this is what the timid parents don't ever realize ... she got over it in a moment's time, and cheerfully went to the other side of the room to play. I do not repeat myself, and I do not raise my voice, and I always mean what I say. Somehow, all those kids I see only once a week know this. I find that fascinating.

Laughing Stars said...

I really like that first quote. I've seen that, in an extreme form, in children of alcoholics with whom I worked as a counselor. They became the adults in the family, out of a kind of desperate necessity, but how do you just turn that off -- say, when you're with other adults or if the parent is in recovery and trying to step back into her role?

In a less extreme way, I'm struggling with this with Trishy (aka Queen of the Universe ;-)) Part of it may be the confluence of her personality and her age and stage in development. (I suspect there is a lot of 5-year-old self proclaimed royalty running around *grin*) On the other hand, I also suspect we haven't been setting limits for her in a consistent, positive way.

Wouldn't you think we'd have got the hang of this parenting gig by the third time 'round? *Sigh* :-)