by Madison Longchamp, MS, APC
Most enjoy being in control sometimes. Some of us feel very uncomfortable when we are not in control.
Our relationship with control is a major contributor to our ability to maintain relationships, deal with emotions, and thrive day to day.
The same goes for our children.
Many of the unhealthy dynamics families create center around power – whether the child has too much and the parent feels they have too little or vice versa. Feeling in control is a good feeling and is important for everyone, but it is not always something, ironically, that we often feel in control of. Imbalances in parent’s and children’s desire for power can stem from different sources and may need to be explored further. Understanding locus of control can go a long way in aiding healing.
Below is an activity I often do with kiddos to exhibit the impact of control in our lives and to begin a conversation about their relationship with control:
The inner circle was colored with my dominant hand. As you can see, it is a lot neater than the outer circle. The outer circle was colored with my non-dominant hand. It was a lot more frustrating! I had a lot more control while coloring the inner circle than while coloring the outer.
Try this activity for yourself out and see what you might discover about your own relationship with control.
After we discuss the activity itself, we discuss what the activity represents. When we focus on what we control (our inner circle, inner locus of control), we feel less frustrated and develop a sense of mastery and self-confidence. When we focus on things we cannot control (our outer circle, outer locus of control) we can become very frustrated and discouraged. What we find in our inner circle is only our own choices and responses. In our outer circle is, well, everything else.
Not only does having an inner locus of control help when our children (and us too!) are frustrated, but it can also help develop a more solid sense of self-worth.
Having an inner locus of control means we focus on our own part in our successes and our losses.
This leads to increased self-esteem and a focus on growth rather than discouragement. So, next time you are feeling things are out of control, focus on what you can control in that moment and help your child do the same. The next time your child does something well like gets a good grade and blows it off as “good luck” or “by chance,” help them develop their own inner locus of control by offering that they worked hard for that good grade and can do so again.
Learn more about Madison and how she can help your child here!
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