“MINE!”

There is a squabble. The toddlers are fighting over the same toy. Seconds before they were each playing with their own, happily. But one looked over at the other toy and thought, ‘Hey, that’s mine. I want to play with that now.’ And she gets up to take what she believes is hers, even though the other child is playing with it.

You rush in as the responsible adult. You explain “sharing” as simply as you can, while taking the toy away. The squabble escalates…

How absurd is that concept; sharing! In toddler’s mind, everything is his and made for him. ‘Sharing…? You adults are so dumb!’

But do we grow out of “MINE?” Some people never do. And it creates a unique family dynamics.

A family is a little community. Each has a role in that space. It is a unit that learns to work together as a whole’ as an “US” entity but it does not always run as such. Many families do not operate in an “us, we, or ours” fashion. They chose or have learned by example to initiate a “mine” philosophy. A “mine” entity distinguishes separations in the unit and hierarchy and power are the result as it runs as independent pieces rather than as a collective connective whole.

Certainly a child is not going to pay rent even though a parent supplies shelter. Certainly a stay-at-home mother cannot pay bills when her income is based on a shared spouses income. Certainly a father’s income is not earned for him solely. As you build and create a family unit you are a whole unit and how you can operate collectively and interconnectively depends on how you assert what is yours or give and share what is “ours.” A family is not independent pieces of a unit just stuck together. It is supposed to be a sharing community that everyone connects to and learns to work with and consequently loves each other.

I have difficulty when I hear adults who live in family units talk about their things as “mine.” “My” car, “my” house, “my” table, “my” bed you sleep in, “my” food you eat…referring to family members as disconnects to things actually helping them thrive. It makes the member not a part of the money or object, but almost instills guilt that they are using or eating something not there’s and have to pay for it some other way. Have you ever heard a parent talk to a teen,  maybe on television, and say, “Don’t you dare put your feet on my coffee table…” And the teen takes his feet off. What that parent has established is that everything that is bought is the parent’s “mine.” The teen is not a part of it. Of course the teen did not buy it. But it WAS bought for the collective family unit to help everyone as a whole. The teen will not feel connected to it so he won’t care about it consequently, except for wrath for harming it and getting punished.

I grew up in a “sharing house.” Everything was collectively ours and a result of that was that we cared and loved it as our own instead of it being a “rental object” just put there with no love or connection attached. “Our” family car was not my father’s “mine.” It was “ours.” We all rode in it, we loved it, and we wanted to collectively take care of it because it belonged to ALL of us. We had a small cabin in the woods. My father did not tell us, “this cabin is “mine” and you all better like it. He bought it for “us” to share and make memories, and we did and love it and treat it with great respect. We felt that way about all of our things because it was given to us with love. There never was an intended feeling of being left out, or being disconnected in anything. Our family things were never an adult “mine’ but always intended for us all as a collective family unit; even as we built our own families. We are all family…always. And share collectively.

You may think this philosophy is absurd. If I work hard for it, I deserve to claim it as “mine.” This is so dumb…just as the normal ego-centric toddler thinks when a toy is taken from them. But ego-centric is vastly different than egotistic and independent. Aren’t we here to learn how to live together connectively.

If you think about it, the sharing philosophy, to help build families is much how God treats us as his big family and we his children. Everything HE has, HE offers to “US.” It is “OURS.” He never ever says, That’s “MINE.” “Get your eyes off my sunset.” “Don’t you dare drink all of my rain water I gave you.” “How dare you cut down my tree and build a house with it, did I give you permission for that!?” “You better eat every speck of my chicken because I can take it away when I want.”

You see…”mine” is only for toddlers…

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The Battles Begin!

Wait, what happened!

This tiny little human has a mind of its own!

And very soon the battles begin….

“You love your child and value your child’s progress. That’s wonderful and important. And I know that sometimes its easy to get single-mindedly caught up in achieving a particular milestone with your child. In your pursuit of your child’s progress, though, it is essential to temporarily relinquish any goal as soon as it causes a control battle with your child. In fact, control battles are one of the most disabling dealings you can have with your child. You want to avoid them whenever possible (except when safety is involved, of course.)” (Kaufman pg.133)

“WAIT! STOP RIGHT THERE! I’M THE BOSS AND IF I GIVE IN WHEN MY CHILD WANTS HIS OWN WAY AND TURNS TO MONSTER MODE, I RELINQUISH MY AUTHORITY AND CONTROL AS A PARENT! THAT IS NOT ONLY SCARY, BUT IT IS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN! “

But what you do not understand is that when you are controlling you GIVE UP your control automatically anyway. 

Think about this…in your own life:

“When people…are in the throes of an experience where they don’t have control, don’t have understanding, and have too much input to process, [as all humans feel] they react in very particular ways. They put everything they have into gaining a sense of control. They seek out situations where they can exert their own autonomy, rather than having their experience dictated to them. And they powerfully resist any efforts to impose control upon them.” pg. 134

It is amazing that children have an innate fighting instinct to recognize when they feel threatened and out of control in a given situation and FIGHT to regain it no matter how big and powerful the opponent is. Even when we are taking about a tiny being who may not  walk or even talk yet,  and do not have a mature understanding of what they are doing.

“Think of a rope with a knot in it. I am holding fast to one end and you to the other. The harder you pull, the tighter the knot gets—’cause I ain’t letting go. You can never release the knot by pulling harder. The only way to release the knot is to let the rope go so that there is enough slack in it for the knot to loosen.”

“The key to understand is this: if you want your child to be less controlling (and thus more flexible and able to learn more, grow more, and ultimately achieve more goals), you have to give your child as much control as possible.”

“Most people’s first response when dealing with a controlling child is to try to “break” the child of his controlling behavior by wresting [forcing] control back from him.

Example: “YOU WILL EAT THIS OR ELSE! SIT THERE UNTIL IT IS ALL EATEN! I DON’T CARE IF YOU DON’T LIKE IT!” (And the child sits there and won’t eat…because you forced them to sit there.)

“Some of you might think: To function in the world, my child has to get used to doing things the right way, so I have to get him to do this particular thing the correct way now.”

“For others of you, the situation may be more in-the-moment  pragmatic. You might think: I just have to get my child to brush his teeth (for example), and we’ll be done. I know he’s fighting me now, but soon it will be over, and it will be worth it because he’ll have clean teeth.”

“If either of these scenarios resonates with you, it’s not only normal, it is totally understandable. You love your child,….but you have a million things you are juggling at once, and sometimes you may just be trying to get through your day.”

The problem is that going down this road with your child will end up being highly counterproductive. Asserting control over someone who is controlling leads to the person becoming more controlling, not less. You see, when your child’s control is challenged, he will feel compelled to dig his heels in and fight to reestablish control and personal autonomy.

But you see what happens is that “as you address the issue…you compromise interaction and learning long-term because you get a child who is not only more controlling but also associates learning or doing something that you want with coercion and unpleasantness.” pg. 136

The interaction between you and your child in this situation now loses harmony and the action you are both trying to control becomes contentious and negative. And when it happens over and over the control anger-meter rises, creating negative energy and unproductive growth. 

Oh they can be forced because you are bigger and stronger. But you will teach them by fear not trust and your actions will give them a very loud message. That they do not have control. Then other symptoms will appear…

anxiety

withdrawal

tantrums

delays

refusing even if they want something

This is not about allowing your child free reign without boundaries. This is not about not having them brush their teeth or sit at the table to eat. But it is about learning how to evaluate yourself as an adult and as a parent and to be the one who raises the white flag when the battle begins, because you are the more wiser of the opponents. It is about being attentive to why your child is trying to be in control because it is usually about being afraid, not understanding, not developmentally ready, or simply wanting more time. They are not trying to oppose you just to make you mad. They are telling you messages constantly with and without their words. Listen, look, empathize and give in or shape a situation to dissolve impending battles. Battles are counter productive in childhood. 

I promise you…

you will get better eaters-

better sleepers-

better and kinder players-

potty trained children-

better talkers-

children who do not bully or withdraw-

 a happier family atmosphere-

children who feel safe to grow and make decisions-

Don’t take my words or the words from the book quotes…

Try it and see for yourself….

Your life will change but mostly the life of your child who wants to feel she has control of her life too.

 

Raun K. Kaufmans. (2014)...The Groundbreaking Method that has Helped Families All Over the World. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Griffin.