Resistance is futile, or is it?

September 5th, 2012

“Resistance is futile” Even if you have never watched a single episode of Star Trek, you may have heard this quote. It’s the message the Borg tell other alien races as they intend to assimilate them into their collective on their quest for perfection. Wow, pretty heavy stuff!

As a family, we too have a collective mentality of how we believe others should behave, and when they don’t respond accordingly it can push all of our buttons.  Children may resist our requests to do what we asked, even stuff we perceive as simple, such as a few homework problems. The feature article below provides tips and a CQ creativity activity to help you and your child navigate resistance without resorting to yelling, lecturing, and arguing.

Being a creative type I love freedom and flexibility. When I was younger I was very resistant about anything that felt like it was limiting my spontaneous creative expression.  So schedules, to do lists, and homework were all met with resistance.  It felt like another thing that needed to be done, which took time away from my creative playtime; and as a foot-dragging perfectionist I would wait until the very last minute before I started.  Yes, I would get good grades and my room would be cleaned, but it would be at the 11th hour.

I bet a few of you can relate from your own experiences, or from seeing your child “dance the resistance dance”.

Here are a few things I learned which may help you navigate your own resistance and the resistance you encounter with your child:

  1. Have a conversation: Back in the day it was often “my way or the highway” when it came to doing things such as homework and chores.  The adults made the rules and children were expected to follow the rules, period.  It created a lot of resistance in our household. Now I often see parents who overcompensate and give their child too much freedom and flexibility and then wonder why things don’t get done. So have a conversation with your child about when they want to do their homework, what chores they do, etc. Look for a win:win and test it out. If your child is successful at what you’ve agreed to, that’s great. If they are having difficulties following what they agreed to, then revisit the conversation.
  2. What are your expectations: Are they realistic, do they align with what your child is capable of, does it respect their opinion?  I recommend being flexible, yet concrete, when setting expectations. That means you and your child can work out the details and compromise how and when things get done, but you are very clear and concrete with what you’ve both agreed to.
  3. Acknowledge the anxiety/fear of getting started: If your child has high expectations, the need to do things perfectly, or they fear that they not good enough or they may be embarrassed by doing it all wrong then allow an opportunity to explore these feelings.  Sometimes parents resist acknowledging feelings because things just need to get done quickly and it feels like that will take too much time. The reality is that if you take the time to help your child identify their feelings, acknowledge and understand their point of view, and they feel heard, then it’s often easier to move on to what needs to be done.
  4. When you become angry or upset how do you respond?  Take a minute to think about your physiological response when you are upset. Does your throat get tight, your stomach churn; where do you feel it in your body?  What do others say about your behavior when you get upset? Do you repeat yourself again and again, do you lecture, get louder, leave the room frustrated, or say hurtful things?  As a child my parents would yell and I would then become more resistant and shutdown, and now as an adult when I get upset I lecture or repeat myself until I feel heard. We are all doing our human dance, and when you are aware you are of your triggers and reactions you can consciously choose to change how you respond.
  5. Open your heart with love and compassion: It’s so easy to slip into frustration when others are not doing what they “need to do” or what you asked them to do.  There are many useful tools and strategies to help children change their behaviors; however, at the core of these behaviors are often feelings around being lovable, good enough, worthy, and safe.  You can show up with love, kindness and understanding so you can help your child move through difficult feelings and negative behaviors.  Expecting a child to change their behaviors is unrealistic if you continue to respond to your child in same way. You must be willing to soften, learn, and grow together, and that can be really hard if you were not raised that way. The good news it that you can learn how to communicate in a more supportive way and help your child move through resistance.

 

CQ Playful Creative Activity:

 

Here’s an activity to help you connect with your body sensations, feelings, thoughts, and behaviors when you get upset. Create an outline of your body on piece of paper with markers. If your child is doing this activity you can trace their body outline, or else you can draw it on a piece of paper. Think of something specific that makes you upset, and allow your body to feel it.  What does it look like, where is it in your body, what color is it, what are you thinking, what are you feeling, what does your body do. Become aware of your physical and emotional response and what triggers you.  Take the time to explore and process this experience, and if your child is creating an image, use it as an opportunity to connect with an open heart and understand their experiences.

 

If you grew up in a household where compassion and understanding and respect was lacking and you feel like it’s really hard to communicate without being reactive, you are not alone! We have a remarkable community of parents and professionals who desire in their hearts to teach children to communicate with love and compassion.  Come join our international community as we learn, laugh, and grow together.

 

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