Traumatized children have an inordinate need for control. Well, as I write that, I realize that they actually have a justified need for enormous control. After all, before YOU, the people who were supposed to be in charge, in control, obviously weren’t.
If you find yourself, your child’s siblings, and peers constantly angered by the mighty Control Chihuahua in your child, consider implementing some of the following things (but don’t do any of them if you cannot follow through consistently.) Children cannot give up control if you give them all the control, because they will not feel safe. So be aware this is shared power YOU give, not YOU giving in, giving up and letting go of your little Chihuahua to shred up your life.
Allow your child to decorate and organize the bedroom space.
Once a week on a specific day you select, allow your child to choose between two menu items what the family will eat for dinner.
Share power around choice of two after school activities once in awhile.
Give two choices often, but don’t allow your child’s choice of a third option you didn’t offer.
If you allow your child to be in control in appropriate ways there will be room for your child to relax in other ways. This is not a fast solution, but over time the enormous need subsides.
I’ve been down for the count with a cold since Thursday evening. As I age, my bounce back time increases. Sad Face. The Happy Face part? Since Thursday, I taught myself how to use Photoshop (very complicated and not intuitive at all); I listened to a series on neurobiopsychological research presentations (so interesting); watched the entire Sanjay Gupta series on Marijuana (I might have to shift my position on this, but not for adolescents); read nothing; wrote nothing; ate nothing; and did nothing else. I am a strangely productive sick person.
I say all that to say this: Today is 420 Day. If you don’t know what that is, then you probably need to raise up and smell the skunk weed in the air. If you and your children have managed to remain completely sheltered from the world at large (bless you and your tenacity), then YOU do not need to know about this until your child(ren) enters the world unsupervised for the first time.
420 Day is the biggest pot smoking day of the year. FYI: 420 (pronounce four twenty, not four hundred twenty) is slang for marijuana. The origin is a ridiculous creation from the 70s though most people are mired in mythology about how it came to be. Teens usually have no idea, except that 420 is shorthand for “Do you smoke pot, have pot, or can you get pot?” With the marijuana laws changing all over the U.S. and the world, everyone is going to have to reexamine marijuana as a medicine and recreational drug. More research will be helpful I am sure.
Still, there is universal agreement that excessive 420 use before the brain has finished its initial development (around 26 years old) can interrupt the healthy unfolding of the brain’s Reward System. Not a good thing. You can see how sugar interrupts Reward System development in teens because they are driven to eat excessive amounts of sugar, fat, and salt and will go to great lengths to get it. That is the Reward System in full swing.
Anyway, beware: unsheltered teens, young adults, and many old adults everywhere are trying to get high today.
If your child smokes pot today (unless in recovery), it is a small problem, try to respond with a small and clear response. Too much focus on what you don’t want, will get you more of the same–Attachment Challenge 101.