Current Issue of BDINews
My six-year old son and I are constantly battling. He is very, very stubborn...
Temperament and Parenting
A Newsletter About Caring for the High Maintenance Child by Kate Andersen, M.Ed.
Issue Theme: Power Struggles.
Volume 23, Number 5, January, 2021.
Letter to Kate
My six-year old son and I are constantly battling. He is very, very stubborn. For instance, last night he asked if he could have another helping of dessert. When I said "no" he went on and on asking. So I said he could not go out to play (because he would not take "no" for an answer.) So he said he would not leave the table until he got some more dessert. Believe it or not, he stayed there for over an hour.
It was only when I sent him to his room (threatening a spanking if he did not leave the table) that he finally got up and left. When he came downstairs after another half-hour I demanded an apology. He refused, so I spanked him. He ran outside and kicked over some plant pots. I chased him out there and he kicked me. At this point, I was at my wit's end so I dragged him in the house and locked him in his room. At bed-time, when I unlocked the door, I discovered he had trashed his room. So I threw all of his toys out of the window and locked the door again. He will probably have to sleep on a bare mattress, as his sheets and quilt are all strewn around the room.
That's where we are now. He is still hollering and I am writing to you.
Sick of Power Struggles
Dear Sick of Power Struggles,Phew! It makes me tired just reading your story. I hope you are ready to hear this because it might make you even madder. Remember that it takes two to tango. The problem is not just that your son is "very, very stubborn". He may indeed be a child who is low in adaptability and high in persistence, two temperament traits that add up to behavior that parents often describe as 'extremely stubborn'.
But the real problem here is that you BOTH seemed focussing on 'winning', rather than on working things out. All over a second helping of dessert! What is the big deal? Is he seriously overweight or something? Was there any real reason to refuse that dessert other than wanting to be in control? What worries me so much is the way you and your son escalated so fast from this rather minor issue (the dessert) to physical behavior that could have tragic consequences. You both got physical, in fact. So it seems you are intent on matching each others' behavior to prove who's in control. There are more effective, and safer ways, to establish your appropriate parental authority. I would like to congratulate you on sitting down to write for help. That's the first step.
The rest of this issue is devoted to the topic of "power struggles". I hope it helps!
to some common questions about behavioral style.
Origins, impact on parenting, risk for behavioral issues, relationship to ADHD, and other topics.
Goodness of Fit
How temperament is assessed.
Poor fit can lead to stress and possibly emotional or behavioral problems
When professional help is needed
There are qualified individuals from several disciplines who counsel parents and children.