Aggressive behaviour in children can be alarming. Hitting, screaming and yelling, fighting with others, and even eye rolling are emotionally charged actions that can leave…
2. Invite dependence - To invite dependence the parent must make it safe to be depended upon. Adversarial relating only exacerbates a child’s alpha stance. When parental authority is used to control the child by taking things away or denying agreed upon privileges in order to gain compliance, this will do little to build trust. Time outs and other forms of separation based discipline can convey to the child the relationship is conditional and based on good behavior only. A parent must steer through stormy behavior by not using their power in an adverse way or in coercing compliance. A parent must lead through the storm and convey they can handle the child and will find a way through. In the middle of conflict, sidestepping the battle and talking about the child’s feelings and behavior after the fact can go a long way to preserving both the dignity of the child and the parent.
3. Take the lead in activities - An effective strategy with an alpha child is to find windows of opportunity where the child must depend on their adult for care. Leaving the house and taking the child on an outing can achieve this. Many alpha children refuse to go out of the house largely due to the request coming from their adult (putting them in charge) and because their house is also their safe kingdom. Despite their protests, getting them out and leading them to a new place can dislodge their alpha stance temporarily. Activities outside of the house can buy the parent a window of opportunity to get into the lead and demonstrate to the child they can be trusted to take care of them. It is also a great time to capitalize on a child’s need to depend on you for care when they are sick or in trouble. Jumping into a strong care taking mode and helping them get better or find a way through their problems conveys a sense you can be counted upon.
4. Meet their needs instead of demands - One of the challenges with an alpha child is they will make many demands of their caretakers. You cannot take care of a child by meeting their demands because they are still in charge of orchestrating their care taking. What is required is to meet their needs instead of their demands. One strategy to achieve this is to actually trump their requests by giving them more than they ask for. For example, if an alpha children demands a parent dress them by putting on their socks and shoes (despite being able to do it themself), instead of meeting their request and complying, you can trump them and make it your idea in the first place. You could tell the child you were just about to do this for them or how much you love getting them dressed and that everyone just needs to feel taken care of sometimes. When the parent trumps the demand and provides for the underlying need (to be cared for), it communicates to the child that the parent understands them, can take care of them, and can be counted upon. While some parents have a hard time moving to trump their demanding child, it is the one of the best ways through with an alpha child. You cannot meet their demands but must meet their needs and lead.
5. Don't court alpha battles with a child - Things to avoid with an alpha child include negotiating with them as if they were an equal and consulting with them on matters regarding their care. Sometimes parents ask too many questions related to care taking, e.g., are you hungry, tired, feel like going to the park, instead of reading the child’s needs and providing for them. Leading a child means conveying you know what they need and moving to take care of them from this place. Furthermore, conveying one’s fears or that a child hurts you only reinforces their alpha stance as well.
6. Hide your needs - Hiding one’s needs is critical or the child will read the parental fears or concerns and potentially move them to take charge or care of their parent. If a child moves to take care of a parent then communicating to them that this is not necessary and that it is the parent’s job to take care of them will reinforce the caretaker’s position. While life may be difficult and hard for parents, leaning on other adults and shielding a child from one’s adult-size troubles can protect the parent/child relationship from inverting. It can be challenging to hide one's emotions and reactions in light of a child's difficult behaviour. It can be helpful to bear in mind that the child is moved to assert dominance and it is nature’s way to preserve the child when they have lost faith in their provider.It is also important not to give up hope and be consumed with guilt and grief about where things have come to with one’s child. The way through is to live and breathe each step forward with the alpha child as if you were their answer. It may mean that you have to discover the alpha parent in you. It may also mean that you have to lean heavily into your love for the child and form strong intentions to turn things around. It will mean you will need to believe in yourself as the answer to your child and lead them to seeing you as their best bet. It will require searching for answers to making headway inside oneself with insight and understanding guiding you. If we can see the alpha child for what they are, we can better demonstrate to them we are the answer they seek. When an adult regains the lead through caring dominance, the child will rest in the caretaking offered and be freed of their hunger for connection. References
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