When a child is trying to take control of things, it is most likely that they are feeling quite out of control inside.
We had a scenario play out in our family over the last couple of days that I’d like to share.
Sweetie #4, was wanting to get new shorts for her exercise class.
We agreed another pair of comfortable shorts would be a good idea, but we also didn’t want those shorts to be too short!
We looked over a couple of days and didn’t really find anything.
Sweetie 4 was asking again about shorts, but seemed a lot more “vigilant” about it.
When we got to the store, it was not enjoyable. She was anxiously walking ahead of us, instead of staying with us. She was back to asking for things. Everything she saw; chocolate, candy, clothing, snacks and more, were met with, “Oh mama! Can we get these or this?”
It seemed out of the ordinary as she hadn’t done that in 2 years! I knew something else was going on in her heart.
When we finally got around to looking at shorts, she became dysregulated, as we looked because there weren’t any shorts she could wear to P.E. that she liked that were also worthy of wearing.
Why do girls’ shorts have to be so stinking short???
So, I gently said, “We’ll look at another store later.”
This got her even more dysregulated and she even suggested we go back to a different store and get a pair of pants that she claimed 30 minutes before she didn’t like!
Then I KNEW something was wrong.
By the time we got home, she was upset and really didn’t seem to know why.
We went in my room to talk and the tears started to flow. “Mama, I don’t think you want to get anything for me.”
“Why do you think that? Didn’t we get a couple of things for you?”
“Yes, but we didn’t get the shorts I want.”
It was at that time that I wanted to address the real issue.
“Sweetie, do mom and dad provide for all of your needs?”
“Have you gone without food ever?”
“Have you had to be cold because you had no covers or a coat?”
“Have you had to go naked because you didn’t have clothing to wear?”
Her answers were, “No mom.”
“Then, do you trust mom and dad, that we can provide what you need at the right time?”
“Can you trust us to make sure you get the proper shorts?”
And then, some things came flooding out. She was worried about being cared for.
You see, when a child has experienced great neglect as she has, sometimes the urge to “control” comes out and they start making sure things are going to be ok. They are no longer resting in our safe and secure love, but taking the reigns to make sure things are provided.
In doing that, they get scared, and feel upset, because it isn’t what things are supposed to be like. Having that control is not fun. It puts them back in a place where they HAD to make hard choices.
During our talk, I simply took control back. 🙂
“How about if you let mama and daddy provide for your needs. You can rest and not worry any more.”
“You need to let yourself be a kid again. OK?”
“Ok mom.” 🙂
“Now let me see your beautiful eyes. There’s my girl! Glad to have you back!”
And then there was a peaceful smile. 🙂