Junior Zap has been making demands on his Mom, and Mom is doing everything that Junior Zap wants. She thinks this will make him happier. As she keeps giving him what he asks for, Junior Zap grows bigger (metaphorically) and more powerful. But as he gets bigger and more in control, he is actually more unhappy. And Mom is feeling more and more helpless and small. Finally, Mom realizes the situation is wrong, that things have gone too far. She firmly puts a stop to it, refusing to give in to Junior Zap's wishes anymore. When she regains control, both she and her son return to their right size and balance is restored. Junior Zap is happier because he just wants to be a young boy, without the responsibility of taking charge.
Setting and explaining clear expectations and limits is a big part of preventing problems. These limits should be enforced consistently and with respect for the child. Try not to yell at or humiliate her, and never use physical punishment.
Children who have too much control become increasingly unhappy, and parents who give that much control become helpless and unhappy. Parents need to be firm, stop that behaviour, and change the balance. And they have to realize that you can't "buy" a child's love by giving him everything he wants.
Discipline, or setting limits, is a source of security for children. Children who do not feel they have limits on their behaviour can be anxious and fearful because they have too much freedom. But you do need to allow the child to feel she has control over some things in her life - it's all part of helping her become independent. For example, let her choose between two acceptable things (like shirts to wear), or which game you'll play together, or what household chore to help with.
Food for Thought:
- How do you know when your child has too much control?
- Do you think it's difficult to balance between being firm and being too harsh? Or between being nice and being a pushover?
- Even a very young child can be expected to help out around the house, for instance by picking up toys, instead of you doing everything for her. How does your child help out?