The Purpose of Opposition in Children: Journey to Stop 5: Building Resilience
If you’re running into a lot of counterwill, it could be a sign that your child generally needs to feel a more secure connection with you. When you encounter this, try to avoid directly “countering” the opposition, when possible. Strengthen your connection wherever you can, in your general lives together, and then particularly in those moments just before you need to direct your children.
And here’s something I need to remind myself of all the time… The language of children is play, humor, imagination, and creativity. Keep it light and humorous! This can be heavy stuff for us, and it’s good to protect our brand-new humans from that heaviness. A self-reminder to let go and have fun is, in adult language, “important!” Prominent psychologist, Steve Hoskinson wisely stated, “The job is enjoyment.”
When you do have to set boundaries and counterwill erupts (and this will happen) it helps to have the time and patience to be with your child through the inevitable rage. Keep them physically and emotionally safe from owies, shame, and condemnation while showing them it’s okay to be one’s own fully real emotional self. Your growing understanding of counterwill's life-serving developmental purpose can help you respect your child through the naturally arising rage at the boundary you so courageously set. If you can bear firmly hanging in there with them, the tantrum of rage can eventually morph into the tears of futility, from mad to sad.
And here’s the BEST news, yet!
If you can lovingly, firmly, safely, NON-judgmentally support your child through their rage all the way to the sadness of their futile fight against your firm and loving boundary, you are leading them to the golden element that allows vulnerable humans to live in this world. Welcome to this world in which we can’t necessarily get our way, things are rarely fare, floods and droughts happen, we can’t have that piece of candy, we don’t have solutions to very many things, and very dear beings die. The tears of futility are the grieving tears, the letting go tears. Just beyond the tears of futility lie the relieving waters that contain the unconditional type of joy. We humans have that pathway, if it hasn’t been frozen over by too much fear of feeling. (Did you ever guess we’d arrive here?)
Here’s Stop 5:
They need lovingly supported practice in the tears of futility.
Reviewing the Stops:
1. The first helpful response to counterwill is simply to be aware that it exists.
2. The stronger a child feels connection in any given moment, the weaker will be their counterwill. The weaker the connection, the stronger the counterwill.
3. You are not alone.
4. Mistakes are part of healthy parenting!
5. They need lovingly supported practice in the tears of futility.
Watch for our final post in this series of 6, which will include when counterwill arises due to your secure relationship, and a love note to parents.