Great news for parents: it’s not on purpose.

It is 7 o’clock and your child still hasn’t done his homework, or taken out the trash, or cleaned up his room. For the umpteenth time, you remind him as politely as possible. He promises to do it before bed.

The next morning undone homework, full trash bins and messy rooms are scattered all over the country, along with fistfuls of parental hair.

Is your kid trying to drive you crazy on purpose?

No. Well, not on purpose, anyway.

A new study reported this week in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology reveals that there is an unconscious, automatic process by which teens—and adults—resist the efforts of people who they perceive as trying to control them. What child or teen doesn’t feel like his parents are trying to control him?

(In all fairness, I found this information at one of my favorite sites: http://www.livescience.com/humanbiology/070214_resistance.html )

All people resist being controlled: kids, teens, adults and seniors.

How many “bosses” does your child have? A child with a Learning Disability (LD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Aspergers Sydrome, or other issues has tons of bosses. Family Therapist, Social Worker, Occupational Therapist, a dozen teachers, private tutors, 1-4 parents, older siblings, School Psychologist, bus driver, you name it! To the child, every one of those people is out to run his life and nobody is asking the question, “Is Johnny having enough fun?”

The study showed that even when there is an unconscious, subliminal connection between a request and a controlling figure, the reactance occurs. Literally, when you ask your child to do his homework, his subconscious turns that into a desire to goof-off!

What the heck can you do about that?

Performance improves when the requestor is seen as wanting the requestee to have fun.

Science to the rescue! If the person making the request is perceived as wanting the subject to have fun, then the reactance is lessened or eliminated.

That is exactly what we are all about at Sparks of Genius!

Our computer lab is called The Playground. We have fun at work. We juggle in groups with our students. We talk about having fun and incorporate as many fun activities into what we do. That isn’t so hard, considering our training consists almost entirely of playing video games. The result? Our students are cooperative, look forward to their sessions, and do not see us as trying to control their lives.

Let your child have more control to lower reactance.

What this means to parents is that if reactance is high in your child, there are two things you can do to ease the tension. First, look for areas in which you can let your child have more control. Give them choices, even if the choices are stacked, like, “Do you want to go out on Saturday and do homework on Sunday, or vice versa?”

Relate requests (what you want) to what your child wants (to have fun).

Second, phrase requests in terms of what the child wants, especially in terms of fun. For example:

“I want you to have fun with your friends and not have to worry about the garbage. Can you take it out now, so you don’t have to remember when you get home?”

“I know you want to play X-Box. I’ll tell you what. Let’s get the dishes done as fast as we can and I’ll extend bed time an extra ten minutes so we can play together.”

Now I know you want to go play pinochle with your friends, but if you practice this skill right now, you’ll have more fun and less frustration.

Get started using this skill right now and save up to $100 per year on aspirin!

Good Luck!

Allen Dobkin

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Explore posts in the same categories: add, adhd, attention, discipline, ld, learning disability, parenting, psychology, reactance, rebel, therapy

One Comment on “Great news for parents: it’s not on purpose.”


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