Articles

He says he will, but then he doesn't

Aaron’s parents were always upset. They tried everything; they got angry, they pleaded, plus they micro managed every homework assignment, they criticized and they even offered him money rewards if he would just get better grades.


Aaron’s parents were high achievers themselves and well educated. His parents had good jobs and always had been successful doing what they needed to do to accomplish things. The one thing that they hadn’t been able to accomplish was motivating Aaron to get good grades. In fact, it seemed the harder they pushed the worse Aaron did. Eventually, in frustration, they grounded him, took away his sports activities, and reverted to day in and day out yelling. Still nothing changed.


Aaron and his parents are involved in a power struggle. The one thing these concerned and challenging parents can’t control in Aaron’s effort. They are attempting to make him successful through their control. Aaron knows unconsciously that the one thing he can control, in the face of parent expectations, is how well he does. Particularly since Aaron perceives his parents as angry. Passive aggressive anger is the lowest form of anger (least accessible) and the most personally destructive. The one way Aaron can show his parents he has control is to disappoint their expectations. Aaron feels his parents control everything. Often parent anger creates this type of response in children. The child on the surface may promise to do better, saying some rehearsed line he thinks his parents want to hear, and then when the outcome appears, it disappoints parent’s expectations.


While not a conscious processes, this type of power struggle can be difficult to change. To reduce this type of resistance in a child, parents must put the child in a position to face the outcome of their choices. Parents must remove their attempts at anger control from the process.


Create motivation in children to succeed by believing in them, helping them learn what they need in order to be successful, and by helping them face the outcome of what they do. Parents must keep their control out of this process. In this instance it’s not the parent’s education, it’s the child’s. Help children face what they need in order to become successful, give them guidance, yet avoid the power struggle that anger can bring.

Back to Articles