AUTISM TREATMENT CENTER OF AMERICA®

A Solution for Control Battles

A Solution for Control Battles

“Flexibility is one of the four fundamentals of The Son-Rise Program® Social Developmental Model – our social curriculum that has supported thousands of families worldwide in helping their children with socialization. If you are getting into frequent control battles with your child, this could mean your child is having a challenge being flexible. Part of being flexible means, the ability to easily go someone else’s way. Control battles tend to happen when we want our children to do something and at that moment, they are not open to doing that thing.

“Often, because of our own need for control and our strong desire to help our children cooperate with us, we sometimes end up ‘pushing’ them to do the things we want them to do. When we push our children beyond the point that they are comfortable with, or ready for; they end up pushing back and resisting the very thing we want them to do. This inevitably ends up in a control battle situation and can be difficult to get out of when we are both at loggerheads.

“In many cases, the most effective solution to help ourselves and to help our children… is to let go of control ourselves. This means giving our children extra control, wherever it is safe and reasonable to do so. What does it mean to give control? It means saying yes to our children more often. It means dropping our agenda and allowing our children to do some of the things they want to do when safe and reasonable.

“The questions to ask yourself, to know when to give control are:

  • Is it safe to say yes to my child?
  • Does saying yes to my child allow me to have a reasonable life?

“That means letting go of some of the boundaries you had previously set, noticing how many times you police your child and how many times you say no, in some way, shape, or form to your child.

Saying no, or policing your child could also be stopping them from doing something by physically manipulating them in some way. Here are some examples of us giving control and saying yes:

  • Let your child wear what they want to wear, even if it’s dirty, stained, and doesn’t look neat and put together.
  • Allowing your child to eat their dinner with their hands, if they don’t want to use utensils.
  • If they say no to hair-brushing, or tooth-brushing, let it go for now and try again later.
  • Letting them take all of the figurines for themselves, leaving you with no toys while they play by themselves
  • Allowing your child to win the board game you are playing (even if they cheat to get there.)
  • Let your child walk around while they eat their snack.
  • Offering an alternative to climbing on the table (if it seems unsafe), give them a stool to climb on instead.
  • Give them plenty of scrap paper to rip, if they are trying to rip pages of a book.

“How will saying yes help your child?

“The more we say yes to our children, the more predictable and safe we become. The more our children experience an inviting, open presence in their lives. The more inviting we are, the fewer control battles happen. The more yes’s we give, the more yes’s we will ultimately get from our children. Therefore, we are more likely to get cooperation from them. Saying yes, will also lower your stress levels and leave more room for fun, play, and joy with your awesome child.”

Becky Damgaard, Senior Son-Rise Program Teacher

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