Sunday, August 9, 2015

Can Children Bully Parents?

I may not be able to give my kids everything they want,
but I give them what they need:
Love, Time and Attention.
You correct by these ways. (Nishan Panwar)

When Kids go Beyond 'Bossy' or 'Spirited' or 'Lethargic'

We had friends who frequently visited our family. When their little girl was displeased and demanding, she'd lay down on the floor where Mommy was...thrash her feet and arms on the floor...rant and rave with her anger- voice. My friend, to thwart this 'temper tantrum' simply walked out of the room leaving her child alone to vent her extreme displeasure. To the parent, this was a quick remedy as child had no audience. When she discovered that her tantrums were of no avail, she ceased this volatile action.
The parent must remain calm and 'in control'. Giving in, gives the child 'control'.
The Parent LOSES! The Child WINS!

When I was teaching Grade 8 students, John was very lazy, often slouching at his desk, seeming totally disinterested; frequently his assigned homework was not completed and often left at home. Early in the autumn I held Parents' Interviews. Mr. and Mrs Weaver indicated to me that they didn't know what to do with their son: he refused to obey requests from parents; instead he would go to his room to watch TV; he'd prefer to 'hang out' with his friends until bedtime. They felt they had no control over him. What could they do? At 13 years of age, it seemed this boy was having a late-child/early-teen-crisis. Sad to say, by this age, the parents had lost their discipline control.
As a teacher, I delved in conversation with him to determine if any interests.
I gave John assignments to research and write about a couple.
Hockey was one... basketball another...and these he shared with his classmates.

Leanne Italie (Associated Press) wrote the following:
There's a difference in parenting between a little backtalk and kids actually bullying their grown-ups. Parent and family therapist, Sean Grover writes in a new book, “When Kids Call the Shots” that a generation or two ago, it would have been unthinkable for children to bully their parents without any consequences. Today, this means, coming up with new strategies...but also unpacking your own baggage in the esteem, resentment, shame, fear and anxiety compartments of your past. It ain't pretty, but letting go of old tactics...surrendering, punishing, a positive step.

How does this kind of bullying begin?
Grover: It's been around a long time in child development, but it just didn't have that name. The prime reason for it is a 'backlash against the authoritative parenting' of the past. People make these vows that they're not going to be that punishing or that way with their kids. Today, parents go too far in the other direction. They want to be their kids' friends, they're afraid of children, of losing their child's affection.
Children are bullying their parents and bring that culture into the classroom with their peers & teachers.

Are these behaviours out of control?
Grover: What has changed are the parenting models, how people are responding to their children. Many parents come to me: burned out or their relationships are really on the rocks. They begin to relive their own childhood in some way, so it's a mess of internal space that's hard to navigate. The difference is not that child development has changed...but the evolution of parenting.

Is there's more 'guilt-prone', 'anxiety-fuelled', 'fix-everything' parenting today? Are we failing by allowing ourselves to be bullied?
Grover: You get into a strange position where the less parents provide things like structure and boundaries, like in the past, the more kids begin to act up. They're unconsciously waving flags: 'Will you do something over here, please?' It's this crazy dance where kids will push their parents until they set a limit and once they do, things settle down quickly.

You've spoken about your own struggles as a parent.
Grover: When my oldest daughter was about six, she'd have horrific temper tantrums, melt-downs and screaming. I was at a New Year's Day celebration and she was making such a scene. Being a therapist, I was dying a million deaths. She was screaming, running away from me, telling me to shut up. And when I went home, I looked at my parenting books and I just wanted to throw all of them out the window. They were just so generic. It was as if one parenting script fits all cultures. In my book, really I'm asking parents to consider...their history...their culture...their upbringing. What kind of parenting did they get? What were their parents' light qualities? What were their dark qualities?

I went to see a parenting specialist and paid him a lot of money. Reviewing with him my strategies used as a parent (and how miserable the results), this expert said, “I want you to have breakfast with your daughter 3 times a week.” I was like what? And he said, “During that time, you do not talk about yourself; you do not offer any advice or criticisms and you don't tell stories. You just give yourself completely to her.”

I was so desperate at that point and we went to a restaurant and she just devoured that level of attention.
She was a pure delight to be with. It triggered a maturing process.

So on a later trip to Maine she had a melt-down and we talked and finally it came out. She bursts out crying, “You love my sister more than me.” I always shudder to think, had I not taken this route,if I would have gone through punishing and consequences, I probably would have won the battle ~
but I would have lost my daughter.”

* * * * * * *

Where did we ever get the crazy idea that in order to make children do better, first we have to make them feel worse? Think of the last time you felt humiliated or treated unfairly. Did you feel like co-operating or doing better? (Jane Nelson).

Setting Precedents: Most significant it is, for parents to establish with their children what is expected of them. Both parents MUST agree to support each other in the decision children, being the opportunists they are, will play one parent against the other!

When requesting a child to perform a task, there must always be a consequence set immediately. When the child balks or shows resistance of any is imperative the consequence must follow immediately!
If and when the task is fully completed, be sure to praise him/her!

If we don't shape our kids, they will be shaped by outside forces
that don't care what shape our kids are in.
(Dr. Louise Hart)

Merle Baird-Kerr...written July 6, 2015
To to:


  1. CAROLYN WRITES: "I always enjoy your blog, but I especially enjoyed reading this one today. Having owned a children's shop, I saw more than I ever wanted to see on many a day. I was so surprised to see how some parents let the children have control of their lives. One parent told me one day, 'I just don't know what to do with her.' It happened to be a bad day for me, I guess, because I said to her, 'If you don't get some control now, t shutter to think what this will be like when she's in her teens.' As months went by, I could see some improvement ~ and that parent thanked me for the advice."

  2. Thank you Carolyn for your profound words. You and I are 'on the same page' re our thinking! Unfortunately, some parents lack proper sense of control in raising their children....and wonder 'what went wrong'!

  3. DEANNA COMMENTS: "Thank you so very much for the article on bullying. I particularly enjoyed reading that the therapist sought help to handle the problems he was having with his daughter and it worked for him .I have always believed that children deserve an explanation as to what their behavior (temper tantrums, etc) does and how it affects others...and explanation timed appropriately as to when it should be given.
    Children understand a lot...perceptive and smarter than we think and need our time and understanding in order to help them grow in a supportive environment of love, kindness and caring. Parenting is hard work but worth the effort, one hopes, in the end. Unable to spend that kind of time with them may eventually lead to a lot more 'mopping up down the road'. LIfe can cut into this way of doing things,unfortunately. Both parents working, attention is needed elsewhere. However, we can only do what and when we can with love, caring and putting the little ones first."

  4. Deanna, your words are so profound. I graciously thank you for your thoughts and taking the time to express them. We know, not all methods work successfully....parents must discover what 'works for their family.' I fully agree, it is the parents who need to set the precedents.