I cannot control this little boy. He is going to do what he wants to do, and he proves his intensity to me in many ways...crying, kicking, screaming.
Most parents have experienced what I am talking about... But I am not afraid! Why?
Because I am learning to use some tools to my advantage.
Tool #1- Kids don't want to disappoint their parents. He needs me. I am crucial to his survival and lifelong happiness. It's biological. (To test this theory, think of anyone you know who missed out on feeling love from either a father or mother. Don't they destroy themselves even as grown-ups in bad relationships trying to replace that love or with substances trying to numb the pain of not having that love?)
Missing out on parental love can be a lifelong tragedy. He desperately wants and needs me and his Dad to be happy with him and admire him. And that is possibly his chief motivator, besides his primal needs like food, water and candy. I'm kidding about the candy, ha ha.
Parents can mishandle this tool and destroy it. Parents can destroy a child's desire to please their parents. See: Ten Reasons Why Parenting Tool #1 Fails on the post from 11/26/10. (I don't know how to link it yet.)
To use this tool most effectively, I try to not use it. What?! This is how: I do my best to be happy with my son just the way he is, today. Wouldn't we all like to be appreciated and truly loved just for who we are, right now, today? What a comforting feeling! I wish we all could feel this all the time...sigh....
Back to reality: My son disappoints me sometimes. I have to use Tool #1.
I maximize this big and heavy tool by showing my disappointment only for the most serious infractions. If I used it every second, it would lose its effect. When I have to use the tool, I stick to a process that seems to work.
The Process: So in measured doses, I am disappointed. His loses my approval in varying degrees depending on his misbehavior and whether or not I have had enough caffiene. (Sorry, son, I am not perfect.) Sometimes the situation escalates out of control. To de-escalate, I firmly state my position and go on with my own business, like checking my emails, until he is ready to work with me and stop shouting that he hates me. As soon as he seems ready to apologize and win back my approval, I sit close and calmly offer hope that he can repair any damages including my feelings or holes in the wall. If he doesn't already know, I teach him what he can do to "make it better." That's what I ask him, "What can you do to make it better?" When he has accomplished what he needs to do to repair things as good as a six year old can, I completely forgive him and lavish him with praise for making it better. We hug and it's all better!
And then, I let it go!!!!! This is extremely important! If I didn't let it go, he would lose hope of ever completely pleasing me. He would lose hope that he could make things better. But he can control the situation himself to make it better. I prove it to him by forgiving him completely and not holding grudges against him for the messes he makes. Yay! I won't be disappointed anymore! Until the next time he refuses to pick up the popcorn he threw in the air to make snow.
So....with this tool, I don't have to "control" him. I can't. This tool controls him. He controls himself. I am teaching him how to control situations with his behavior to make other people happy with him. If I am careful and judicious, he will always want to please me. And of course I LOVE to please him with amusements, games, presents and good food! I am teaching him it goes both ways. To have fun, we both have to be happy. We are learning and trying to make each other happy. It's a team effort.
This way of thinking has helped me to decrease our struggles and decrease the time it takes to resolve our struggles!!! I hope it helps you!