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Parent Child Power Flow

Power Flow Model

Parent can demonstrate understanding of Power Flow Model. Using it, they can recognize which power struggles are occurring, provide opportunities for appropriate power and coach the child to use powerful requests to manipulate their world instead.

Brief Overview

This is the foundational concept in our Program. Understanding the Power Flow Model helps you handle Power Struggles better and gives you the tools to get that specific result with your child. Most basic psychology courses cover the basics of human development according to the most renowned names in behavioral history; Erik Ericson, Maslow, Freud, Gardner. If you are curious about their work, any library or Google search will meet your needs. These theories informed my thought process and framed my concepts but by adding the practical aspect, our approach has parents attain the results of their parenting dreams.

After 20 years observing, coaching and impacting families, I noticed some basic patterns in how parents acted and the different results they got. As a practical person, I was always interested in how families operated and beyond that, which situations caused struggles. By recognizing some patterns and testing my ideas with families, I formulated a position about the way power moves from child to parent over time. Here are the basics:

There is a design and intention to the direction power flows in the parent/child relationship. Parents need to know that what they are experiencing is not only common, but a necessary process. Parents feel fear, guilt, shame and despair when kids act up, and this is unnecessary. The three promises of Licensed 2 Parent, Inc. are that you can get the skills to Reveal, Reduce & Resolve Power Struggles. This competency reveals the mystery behind why power struggles even happen.

The Insight
I was coaching a family with a daughter about to turn one. One concern they had was sleeping. The daughter was used to being rocked to sleep then placed in her crib. She was also waking each night for a nursing snack, then out of sheer exhaustion, Mom fell to sleep in the spare bed with her. After Mom determined that she was ready to drop this last feeding, we began. I taught her how to interpret different types of cries and the auditory characteristics of each. We were in the midst of executing the ‘fall to sleep routine’ when two insights fell into place.

Once Mom could hear the difference between alert crying (needing action/attention) from manipulation crying (wanting action/attention), she was clear that she could respond (or not). In that moment she became free from the habit of emotional parenting. In the past she felt bad not responding to baby’s cries. As I explained the difference (even at this age) between a Request and a Demand, I realized that an infant could Demand and actually MUST through crying to survive. But the child we were dealing with now was beyond infancy, moving into the baby/child stage. Demanding was now not as available to her. She was pretty upset about this fact. Even more intriguing was that this very smart, educated Mom with great instincts and parenting insight had missed it. I am willing to bet most of the rest of the parenting world had too.

Right then I envisioned the whole arc of a person’s lifetime imagining how power was designed to flow at different stages in a healthy relationship. I didn’t call it the Power Flow Model right then, but this breakthrough in thinking has revolutionized how parents relate to the Program because it just makes so much sense and explains so very much about their kids and even themselves with their own parents.

Newborn Stage
As a newborns make demands of those who care for them. It is a matter of survival. Hungry newborns cry, and a caregiver feeds them. It is the basic design for this stage that the Demand flows from the baby to Parent with little choice on the part of the adult. It does not matter if the adult is sleeping or the baby just ate 2 hours ago. Adults must respond to the Demand or there will be consequences; survival is one of them.

Also there are very few Demands placed on Newborns by the parents. Even more critical, it is during this stage that the baby learns if the world can be trusted to provide for them, or not. The outcome impacts
Mother Caring for Infant Child
the rest of that person’s life. The ability to connect with others is a direct result of learning to trust the world, and it is set during this stage. I encourage marinating infants in love and attention and touch! You can’t spoil an newborn.

Now imagine your life at one year; you began awareness inside a pleasant cozy place and have been pretty much in charge since that jarring birth experience business. Making the crying noise that is instinctual has really worked well for you, regardless of your particular need. But lately the response time has been lagging and if you aren’t mistaken you have begun to detect that the big ones are actually beginning to work against you and refuse to do things your way.

The fact is that things are about to change big time for baby. Once they are able to move around, communicate simply and develop a sense of self, they begin to trade off the right to be the center of the known universe. This very powerful habit may be tough to leave behind. As you may imagine.

Child Stage
Now the days of Demanding are over, done, expired, unavailable! Once a child can talk and move around, the game changes. From now, until they are a Parent themselves, Demanding is no longer available to manipulate their world. Usually this necessary shift in power is unnoticed by the parent and/or ignored by the child. Even worse, the parent knows on some level things should be different, so they set new expectations, but that results in what is seen as an unavoidable time of terror affectionately called “The Terrible Two’s!”

What many don’t realize is that they send a mixed message by mostly refusing the child’s Demands yet randomly indulging others. This reinforces behavior that creates the most discord and unhappiness in a home. On top of that, Parents are now placing Demands on the child in an effort to raise them according
to their style and values. This can be very traumatic to the child. The Power to Demand was pervasive and powerful. They grew accustomed to it as the way to operate. Now it is different. They must learn to use Requests to meet their needs and desires. The child must learn to accept No as an answer. It begins to not go so well. Sound familiar?

Through our coaching we describe how demanding flows from Authority to the child. This is designed to provide practice interacting with authority, a skill used later in life. The point to it all is this: the essence of parenting is helping them learn to go from Demander to Requester. Through modeling, coaching, and skilled consequencing, you provide the opportunity to practice and cement behaviors that are less infantile and more helpful later on in life. The Right you have to make a Demand on your own child is very limited and sacred. Only those given permission may join in. For example,is it OK to Parent a classmate of your child? If you are able to respectfully be a parent when it is necessary to do so, you will love the results. And so will your child.

Adult Stage
Once we leave being a child behind, we enter a stage where Demanding is absent altogether; except in very formalized cases. Adults use Requests as a means to get what they want. If you’ve ever had a boss or coworker or spouse make Demands of you, you know how well that goes. Even if you give in to the Demands, you feel resentment. No one likes to be around little Dictators, literally or figuratively.

The most powerful people in the world have mastered the ability to make a Request that others are compelled to say yes to. That is the intended outcome of the Power Flow model. As a parent engaged daily in Power Moments with your child, your goal is to have them be less of a struggle and more of a practical training for adulthood. It is not personal.

Successfully Raised Child

When I coach parents, they often say this concept is the most valuable insight they got. I didn’t see it that way until I experienced the critical insight described in the story. I saw a glimpse of the significance it would have in my message to parents. Now I begin most of my events, presentations and personal coaching sessions teaching this fundamental distinction. What is amazing is that once a parent hears the Power Flow Model, they are able to stop being mad at their kids when they create a Power Struggles. When you remove the emotional trigger to what you are facing, you manage it much better.

Another Insight
My life as an Organizing Consultant came sandwiched between being an Educator and a Parent Coach. Because of this, some of the concepts I employ with families come directly or indirectly from that world. Another way to illustrate this Competency comes from just such an insight: Many organizing clients say:

If I could just stop the interruptions of the day, I could get all of my work done!

Most of the work they are talking about getting done is paperwork and will never be done. Most of the interruptions are of the phone call, visitors, requests, distraction variety. I ask them to consider that those same “interruptions” ARE the work. Huh? Well if your job or business is to respond to the demands & needs of customers or clients, what would happen if the phone stopped ringing or no one asked you for anything? Pretty quiet. Imagine the retail clerk saying, “Man if those customers didn’t keep coming in, I could get these sweaters all folded.” What people miss is that the paperwork that is patiently waiting for them and will never go away on its own is what keeps you busy when you are not responding to the actual work that generates business.

How does this relate to parenting? Most parents say:

If I didn’t have these Power Struggles, I could parent much better!

The Power Struggles ARE the parenting. How you manage a child when they demand your power is what they will remember about their upbringing. What you do in relation to them being nasty will teach them more about human behavior than a graduate level psychology class. Things you say and do will stay with them long after you’ve raised them and they are off on their own. The busywork of everything else, the school, the activities, what you bought them, is what you do in between the actual Parenting Moments.

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