Have you ever known a person that has to be in control? In fact they must tell others – especially those close to them – what they need to do all of the time. There are a number of reasons that a person may be a ‘control freak’, but rarely do they see themselves as that controlling person. Unfortunately the need to control others is also a factor in feeling more stressed and ultimately to anger.
As a parent, my personal need to control may be justified with the reasoning ‘that I know what is best for you’, or ‘I am just trying to protect you’. This is reasonable with the youngest of children, but as they get older it becomes a problem if we are not willing to give them choices and a voice in decisions about themselves. It may also be a problem for us as we may feel anger and behave in an angry manner.
Conflict, stress and angry behavior occur when the other party begins to push back. With a child this may happen at a very young age or it may wait longer till their tween years. If it does wait till the tween’s and we as parents have become comfortable and even desire having that control, the push back can get pretty ugly.
If we find ourselves feeling stressed and feeling angry, maybe even raising our voice and behaving in a manner that we know is not setting the right example, think about the following possibilities.
Rather than trying to control every little thing, give the child (young or teen) choices (with some leeway) and consequences for their behavior. That way they can choose to do – not to do – what you want (and experience – or not experience – the consequences). To continue to feel good about yourself, you must be willing to be good with the choices you or they are suggesting and be willing to enforce the consequences.
Consider an example of a teen that is late coming home even though he/she has promised to do so by a certain time. The solution is to set a time with leeway (of possibly 15 minutes) or lose a predetermined privilege that all have agreed to. As the parent you maintain control in a reasonable manner and you have given the choice of compliance or consequence to the child or teen. Think of your own examples of how this concept might work in your family. This practice will reduce the stress you are feeling from not being in complete control.