Thursday, September 22, 2011


"Not long ago I was travelling through Dallas-Fort Worth airport, sitting at a food court, when a three-year-old girl let everyone within two blocks radius know that she wanted a Happy Meal. Mom said no, and the daughter brazenly slapped her mother in the face.
Grandma, who was seated with the mother and her daughter, looked on in horror. She was clearly mortified by her grand daughter's behaviour, but seeming more so with the mom's actions! You could see the words she so wanted to say: 'Are  you going to take that?' Not only did the mom take it, to make things worse she actually got up and bought her daughter a Happy Meal! I had to fight every impulse within me to get up and explain to this weak-willed parent what she was getting herself into."
"TEMPER TANTRUMS - Don't Let Your Child Call the Shots" by Clivechung on HubPages.

On first read this may simply look like a little child having a temper tantrum - which it is. But as well as a child choosing to misbehave in a public place, a parent is choosing to be manipulated and controlled by her preschooler. The child has called the shots. A mother has fallen into line under her command. The gratification of the insistence of a child for a particular food, has been given a higher priority by the mother, than securing that her own decision was carried out. She is putting her child centre-stage in life.
A child is put centre-stage if there is too much attention directed towards them. It can be the baby-sitter, an auntie, grandparents, a family friend, one or both parents. They worship the child and allow them to have their own way in areas which are not theirs to hold any authority in at all.
Some families centre-stage one child, for reasons including the following ~
   ~ they are a physically beautiful child
   ~ they are academically smart
   ~ they are gifted musically or artistically
   ~ they are competent in sport
   ~ they are the only girl in a family of boys
   ~ they remind the parent of themselves as a child......
Some families centre-stage all their children. It could be that they believe their method is an example of love and freedom, of giving opportunities of choice, thereby helping the children in future life. But if a child no longer sees them self as a child in the family, but thinks of them self as having authority over others in the family, or, they think their wants, preferences and choices have higher priority than the rest of the family, then this child is being allowed to live centre-stage in the family.
My hero Charlotte Mason, describes a child who is put centre-stage as being "out of orbit and not of use to society". She goes on to say that all children "....come to us with two inherent forces, centripetal (=moving or tending towards a centre, towards oneself) and centrifugal (=moving or tending to move away from a centre, away from self), which secure to them freedom, ie, self authority, on the one hand and proud subjection on the other." page 70 "A Philosophy of Education":Charlotte Mason.
The child who is put centre-stage is barely developing the "centrifugal" force in their character at all, hence Charlotte's description of them being "out of orbit". This is entirely true. A centre-stage child thinks on life from the perspective of them self - only. They don't think outside themselves because they have been trained that the focus is on them. Consequently they are numb to other's needs, feelings, rights of choice... Even more alarming, if allowed to develop to maturity, they are unable to put themselves into the experience of an opposing position to themselves - no empathy, they have sympathy, but of a type that is motivated by their self preoccupation, so it suits them, makes them feel good... Another result is that they are not team players. If circumstances demand they work in a team, the centre-stage person only participates on their terms. The democracy of the team set-up is re-configured into more of a 'do it my way' or the person simply leaves the team because it won't cooperate with them. 
Why is this? Because in the main, their experience is that parents have always stepped out of their way for them. If they want something it has been granted. The expectation that everyone fits-in with them escalates.
For a parent in this situation there is only one solution. The behaviour of the child must change, and this only happens if the behaviour of the parent first changes.
   1. It begins with saying "No" to the child, not just one time and then giving way to the child, but sticking to the "No", carrying out the full consequences of that situation's "No". If this pattern is consistently lived by, a parent's relationship with their child will radically change, and a centre-stage child's behaviour will improve. The dominance the child has over the parent and entire family, will in time disappear. Consistency however is essential because you are changing a habit both in yourself and your child. Any wavering nullifies all the territory already gained. Think of how important it is to keep on target with the rehabilitation plan for the alcoholic and drug addict, to get to full restoration. 
When we say "No" to our children we are setting boundaries and limits for them. This way they learn their appropriate place in our family, not as Boss, but as a child who is part of the family, community, society and country..... A correct perspective on self for the future.
   2.  Parents need to identify situations when they regularly put their child centre-stage, allowing them to call the shots. If parents plan how things are going to operate before getting into these situations, and communicate this to the child, then life starts to move along lines where the child has to fit-in. For example, the mum in the above quote could have prepared her three-year-old before leaving for the airport, by explaining that when Grandma arrived they would go to a cafe and have a drink. Just a drink, nothing to eat, just a drink. By telling the little girl what they were going to do, how they were going to operate while at the airport, mum would have felt organized, leading the way into the occasion.
   3.  A third area where children can develop a mindset of dominance or deference is through attitudes portrayed in movies, games, TV and the books they read. From these pursuits, do they 'see' people who are out for themselves, annihilating others for their own dominance? Or do they find people who think of others, are brave, but for the benefit of others? Media such as movies, video games and TV for children, give clear and full descriptions of what both these styles of character look like. Parents need to decide which style they want to feed to their children.
   4.  Once the parent establishes these new patterns, the child may react badly. This is where a parent's best ally is to stay relaxed. "Don't buy into the dramas or feed them to make them worse." from Karyn Van Der Zwet : "Parents : Some Kids NEVER Get Bored" Kloppenmum blog. Don't shout over the child's performance and screams. Don't negotiate or debate. Don't get involved in the "soap opera, replete with yelling and tears and general gnashing of braces. Like I said you need to deal with this with a sense of humor." says John Rosemond, family psychologist : "Parents Can Give Children Too Much Attention". His point is not to give our attention to the ridiculous behaviour while the child continues in it. But instead forcing them to give up the big fuss, control themselves and get used to how the real world operates - for everyone, not just for them.
You may like to read Karyn Van Der Zwet's post "For Parents : Emotional Support V Emotional Indulgence".


THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ If you find that you are the parent described above, hopefully there are points in the HELP AND CURES section you are eager to get working with.

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