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The Purpose of Opposition in Children, and Our Response: A Journey In 6 Stops, by Lisa Allen

Journey to Stop 1: You mean there’s a word for that??

Have your amazing, cherished children ever raged against some of your most reasonable directions?

Like you say,

“Okay, it’s time for us to go have some fun at the beach!”

And they say,


(Wait, what??)

And do you ever find that right at the end of your patience, they push back even harder??

“GO AWAY!!!”

Allow me introduce you to “Counterwill!”

Counterwill is an automatic defense against control and coercion.

Counterwill is a human instinct that exists in all of us, at all ages. And young children, particularly, are allergic to coercion!

As it turns out, we’re designed to protect ourselves against the control of others, unless we feel a secure connection with them in that very moment.

Maybe you’ve heard of it as, “strong will.” Most people don’t realize that it’s not really individual will at all! In fact, it’s almost an extension of the will of somebody else, in other words, a mere reaction to their will.

Counterwill serves healthy development in two really important ways:

  • Counterwill is nature’s way of preventing children from following the will of those who don’t care about them.

  • It also creates space for the development of their own will, completely independent of what others want them to do. (This is REALLY important for them!!)

The first helpful response to counterwill is simply to be aware that it exists.

Congratulations! You have arrived at Stop 1:

The first helpful response to counterwill is simply to be aware that it exists.

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