Situations where you should NOT use the Gordon Model
Everyone who has been reading my e-zines for a while will know that I strive to use the skills that I write about and teach to others as much as I possibly can. It will be such a joy to me when at some point I can say that I have become absolutely 100% perfect in this matter.
At the same time, I want to be realistic. 100% ‘perfect’? I am not ‘perfect’ by far nor will I ever be ‘perfect’. There are many moments I make mistakes myself. Also, sometimes, I make the conscious decision not to use any of the skills I teach and do it the old-fashioned way and use power, punishment or rewards!
Which moments am I talking about?
1. When there is danger involved
Just imagine your child being almost run over by a bus. I would not discuss with my child what to do and I would not listen to my child. I would grab her immediately and drag her out of the situation. She would probably be startled by my actions, make her feel embarrassed, and lead her to using some swear words. But that would not bother me as long as she was safe. Have you ever thought of your child being addicted to drugs? In this case, a life is at stake and to me this would make me force her into going to a clinic, regardless of her opinion or feelings about going. Or a child addicted to watching violent movies or games? If this influenced my child in such a way that made her aggressive, it would make me change my TV subscription so my child would not be able to watch them anymore.
2. When logic/understanding is impossible
When my daughter was a baby, we needed to discuss the issue of immunization. Discussing with a baby is obviously quite complicated, so we decided this for her. There was no other way than by using our power. At the same time, please don’t underestimate your child! When you explain to your child what’s happening, your child will probably be able to contribute to the discussion, even when he or she is only 2 years old. Simply by inviting your child to give his or her opinion, your child will feel ‘heard’ or ‘seen’ and will make your child feel better than if you had just used your power without realizing that your child has feelings too.
3. When time is an issue
Late for an appointment at the hospital because of an unexpected traffic jam? I would probably use my power and bribe my child to cooperate. Being late for school every single day is not the same to me by the way. Unless there is a school trip and we risk the bus leaving for the trip without my child!
4. When my own needs are critical
Just imagine: I am away from home with my child and I forgot my medication. Medication that is essential to keep me functioning normally. Still my child refuses to go back home. In this case, I would do everything within my power, either punishing or rewarding, to go back home. In this case, my personal needs are critical. These are all situations where I would choose power over the skills from the Gordon Model. Despite your good intentions, your child will probably not like the way you handled the situation. Therefore, I make sure that:
-I explain afterwards why I handled it the way I did
-I apologize for using power (especially in case of punishments)
-I listen carefully to my child’s feelings
-I offer to make it up to her
-I discuss with her how to prevent this from happening again
To be honest, I strongly believe every parent will use power every once in a while. At the same time, I always strive for letting my power go as many times as possible.