The Purpose of Opposition in Children, and Our Response: Journey to Stop 2, by Lisa Allen
Journey to Stop 2: Counterwill keeps strangers out of the way while challenging us to love more.
As I mentioned in “Journey to Stop 1,” Counterwill is an automatic defense against control and coercion. The good news is that it’s also instinctive for children to follow those with whom they feel connected. (Phew!)
So, it can help a whole lot if we can connect with our children creatively, lovingly, and playfully just before directing them, getting what developmental psychologist, Dr. Gordon Neufeld refers to as their eyes, smiles, and nods before proceeding. Even if only for a few moments before leading our children in a new direction, this blending of energies from contrary to side-by-side can revive our connection at crucial turning points during the day.
Now I can hear some readers understandably baffled, thinking, “My relationship with my child is great, but I still encounter this sudden, intense opposition!”
Even if you have a strong relationship with your child, they need to feel that connection in the moment when you direct them. If they’re in a flow with friends or a super yummy set of toys, sorry, you are not at that moment front and center. You’ll need to get their eyes, smiles and nods before you benefit from their instinct to follow you. The stronger a child feels connection in any given moment, the weaker will be their counterwill. The weaker the connection, the stronger the counterwill.
(You could also be experiencing the specific kind of counterwill that arises when connection is strong, a dynamic I will discuss in the sixth and final part of the series. So stay with us. There's much to explore along the way!)
Welcome to Stop 2:
In the moment, the stronger the connection, the weaker the counterwill. The weaker the connection, the stronger the counterwill.
Reviewing the Stops:
1. The first helpful response to counterwill is simply to be aware that it exists.
2. In the moment, the stronger the connection, the weaker the counterwill. The weaker the connection, the stronger the counterwill.