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Old June 8th 04, 04:41 PM
Nathan A. Barclay
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Default How Children REALLY React To Control

"Chris" wrote in message

How Children Really React to Control

by Thomas Gordon, Ph.D.


The Coping Mechanisms Children Use

Over the years I have compiled a long list of the various coping
mechanisms youngsters use when adults try to control them. This list comes
primarily out of our Parent Effectiveness Training (P.E.T.) and Teacher
Effectiveness Training (T.E.T.) classes, where we employ a simple but
revealing classroom exercise. Participants are asked to recall the
specific ways they themselves coped with power-based discipline when they
were youngsters. The question yields nearly identical lists in every
class, which confirms how universal children's coping mechanisms are. The
complete list is reproduced below, in no particular order. Note how varied
these recurring themes are. (Can you pick out the particular coping
methods you employed as a youngster?)

The more I think about this exercise, the more it looks like something
deliberately contrived to generate a particular emotional reaction. An
objective analysis would try to pin down how control by adults is likely to
affect individual children. This exercise, instead, creates an amalgam of
negative effects across all the people in the group, a combination that will
almost certainly be significantly longer and uglier than a typical child is
likely to exhibit. Worse, a person might add something to the list because
it happened once or twice, but have others end up thinking it happened on a
much more regular basis.

I'm not saying that efforts to control children through force don't have
negative consequences, or that parents should adopt a dismissive attitude
toward the risk of such consequences. But it is important not to blow the
risks out of proportion either. If parents want to do a risk/benefit
analysis regarding whether the risk involved in exerting their authority in
certain types of situations is likely to be greater or less than the
benefits, they need an accurate appraisal of the risks, not an exaggerated