Blog

Turn Power Struggles into Emotional Intelligence

When Margaret was having trouble with one of her second graders she discovered a technique that helped her turn power struggles into lessons in emotional intelligence. The liberating line was: “You are a comedian, aren’t you?”

The same technique worked like magic with her eight-month-old son, Musa. She told me this story:

Musa loves water. His affinity for water was obvious at six months. When engaged with water, he did not like to be interrupted!

After a long bath one day, he ignored her when she tried to get him out of the bathtub. Reaching both arms into the tub, she said, “Okay, time to get out, now.” He kept on moving his arms and legs, hands and feet through the water.

When she went ahead and picked him up out of the water, he started to wail.

She sat down on the tile floor of the bathroom, and holding him firmly in both hands, looked him square in the face and with a smile on her face said: “You really like water, don’t you.”

Eight-month-old Musa stopped crying instantly and smiled back.

We love it when someone notices something special about us. Lovingly saying: “I see this in you,” is such a powerful technique for turning a power struggle into a love fest, it is a wonder we don’t use it more often with each other—especially with children.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Share

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

7 Responses to “Turn Power Struggles into Emotional Intelligence”

  1. Mrs4444 May 18, 2011 at 5:39 pm #

    This is delightful. I love it.

    Just today, I reflected to a student (who normally does NOT enjoy homework but was chatting up her plans for a project), “I really love seeing you so excited about this project–That’s neat.” And she positively beamed. 🙂

    Nice to meet you. I have a feeling you’ll be seeing more of me here 🙂

  2. Mrs4444 May 18, 2011 at 5:42 pm #

    This is delightful. I love it.

    Just today, I reflected to a student (who normally does NOT enjoy homework but was chatting up her plans for a project), “I really love seeing you so excited about this project–That’s neat.” And she positively beamed. 🙂

    Nice to meet you. You’ll be seeing more of me here 🙂

  3. Rick May 19, 2011 at 5:42 pm #

    Brilliant move. So simple. So easy. Why is it so unusual? Is it because adults get suckered into a power struggle to easily?

  4. Dawn Morris May 19, 2011 at 6:57 pm #

    I love both of those stories! Thank you for sharing them.

    It just goes to show how wonderful parenting and teaching can be when you take a step back and try to understand things from the child’s point of view. What a powerful way to open the doors of communication and cooperation.

  5. Melissa Karnaze May 22, 2011 at 8:57 am #

    Those are great examples. They remind me of what Carl Rogers talked about with unconditional regard for a child, and not making them “bad” or “wrong” for how they feel. I think adults as well children respond well to this healthier way of relating.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Entitlement and the Pursuit of Happiness - - September 10, 2012

    […] those “unhappy” things: conflict, mistakes, failure, loss, disappointment and loneliness are where so much important learning can […]

  2. Turning Power Struggles into Emotional Intelligence II - The Genius in Children - August 30, 2013

    […] reading “Turning Power Struggles into Emotional Intelligence” Lyn decided to try the approach and told me this story about her two-year-old daughter […]

Leave a Reply


× five = 35