Illusion of Control
People get a kick out of it whenever I talk about the illusion of control in disciplining. It is when a child perceives they are in control of the situation when actually the parent is orchestrating this illusion of control. So therefore, the adult is in control and you avoid a draining power struggle with your child.
For example, let’s say you and your son are at the grocery store and he wants to buy a sugary cereal (e.g Coco Puffs), but you want him to eat a healthier option. The way to create this illusion of control is by giving your son 2-3 healthy cereal choices (e.g. Cornflakes, Special K, or Cheerios) and asking him to choose one while staying calm and composed. The key is to set parameters so the choices are within your range of acceptability. This becomes a win-win situation since the parent maintains control of the situation and the child feels empowered as they make decisions within a given framework.When I worked in one of the city's elementary schools, a first year teacher who was very enthusiastic about teaching came to my office overwhelmed about one of her students. This particular student was oppositional in every way he could be in the class. He would yell, throw things, talk back, and fight during class, which of course, disrupted the class and got the other students riled up. After listening to the teacher, I explained to her that this student was resisting authority figures in school because he wanted to feel in control, and very likely that he was in control at home. I gave her a quick lesson on illusion of control and how to apply it in the class. We had a follow-up meeting, and she said that things are going so much better and when she has her own kids she’s going to use this strategy! This is a powerful strategy if used appropriately.