Understand the Mistaken Goal: Misguided Power
Misguided Power occurs when a child feels that they belong only when they are in control. It causes an adult to feel challenged, threatened, angry or even defeated. In these situations, there is usually a power struggle, or an attempt at a power struggle. It is up to the adult to find a way to disengage from this scenario. The authors suggest naming it as a power struggle and recommending that everyone calm down before continuing the discussion, validating the feelings of the student or even inquiring what is going on for the student at that time. In these types of situations, a child is really requesting that they help out or get some choices. Instead of sending a child in to fight, flight or freeze, these options decrease the amount of stress a child feels thus allowing them to participate in group problem solving.
In my life, misguided power seems to rule over us all-both at home and at school. As a staff, we talk about the kids who feel that they have no control over their lives, so they act out,causing power struggles all the time. I can see how giving these students some flexibility by allowing choices could be very empowering for them, allowing them to use their energy in a positive manner- following through with a given option-and allowing them to feel safe, secure and in control.
Can you think of a time that you dealt with a child operating under the mistaken goal of misguided power? Were you able to positively influence the situation? What did you do to move past the situation?