Leading Developmental Psychologist and Author, Dr. Gordon Neufeld, will be visiting the Bay Area for two public talks and a 2-day professional training in March 2014.
Two of the topics that professionals (counselors, psychologists, social workers, teachers, etc) ask Dr. Neufeld to speak about the most are Defiance (Counterwill) and Aggression. Although these are two very different dynamics, they can both be best understood through the lens of attachment. In this two-day training, Dr. Neufeld will help "make sense" of these dynamics and how to best help the children in our care that are manifesting them. This training is suitable for both professionals and parents.
Making Sense of Defiance
Defiance, or what Otto Rank called "Counterwill", can take many forms. It can present itself as the reactive `no` of the toddler, the `you aren`t my boss` of the preschooler, as balkiness when hurried, as disobedience or defiance, or even as laziness or lack of motivation. It can manifest itself in a working to rule, in procrastination, or in doing the opposite of what is expected. It can be expressed as passivity, negativity or argumentativeness. It can be experienced by an adult as insolence or belligerence. It can create a preoccupation with taboo or antisocial attitudes within a child. When pervasive and severe, the child is incorrigible and may qualify for a diagnosis of Oppositional Defiant Disorder. It is such a universal phenomenon at certain stages of development that it has given rise to the terms `terrible two`s` and `rebellious teens`. Despite the myriad of manifestations, the underlying dynamic is deceptively simple - a defensive reaction to felt coercion.
Because so few adults are conscious of this dynamic in children, the void in understanding has given rise to a multitude of misperceptions and consequent mishandling of this dynamic. Counterwill is most often misperceived as being intentional or `on purpose` as opposed to instinctive and provoked. Adults are forever misinterpreting counterwill in a child as a manifestation of being strong willed, as challenging authority, as being manipulative, as trying to get one`s way, as intentionally pushing the adult`s buttons or as simply asking for it. How we perceive a child`s behaviour will influence how we react to it. Unfortunately when we misperceive counterwill, we are likely to react in ways that actually exacerbate the dynamic. Furthermore, we are at risk of endangering the relationship that provides the context for working with the child.
There are three factors controlling the existence of this dynamic in a child: attachment, maturation and coercion. Strong attachments often preempt the counterwill reaction in a child. On the other hand, when immature beings are bossed around by adults they are not attached to, they instinctively resist being controlled. It simply does not feel right for a child to do the bidding of those they are not attached to. The implications for our society are profound as it is our custom to farm out our children to strangers to help raise them. Our educational system is crippled by counterwill yet very few are even aware of this dynamic. The very fact that so many children lose their desire to learn and only do as much as they have to, is a testimony to the power of the counterwill dynamic.
Counterwill is normal in the toddler and preschooler. Because these children can only operate out of one dynamic at a time, whenever attachment instincts are not engaged, pressure will provoke resistance. Children grow out of the impulsive expression of counterwill when they become capable of mixed feelings. For most children, this is by school age but there are many adults who never get there. Unfortunately, not all children grow up as they get older, and those that are incapable of mixed feelings are easily provoked when the coercive elements of a situation are greater than the forces of attachment.
Under certain conditions, counterwill can be pervasive and intense, becoming the modus operandi of the child. If these conditions prevail the child may even qualify for a diagnosis of Oppositional Defiant Disorder. This is an unfortunate misnomer as there is nothing wrong with the counterwill instinct in itself. It is more likely that the child`s attachments are disordered or the social environment of the child is disordered. Children stuck in immature functioning were never meant to be bossed around by those they were not personally attached to. When teachers and teaching assistants are put into such a situation, the challenges are profound. Trying to deal with this dynamic with traditional behaviour management techniques is a recipe for disaster. Again, intervention needs to be based on a foundation of understanding.
- the many faces of counterwill
- the meaning of counterwill
- how to differentiate between counterwill that is healthy and counterwill that is a sign of something amiss
- a three-pronged approach to dealing with counterwill
- why praise and reward can backfire in some children
- why counterwill is normal in toddlers and preschoolers
- why the educational system provokes counterwill in our children
- why pervasive counterwill is a sign of attachment problems
- how children usually grow out of counterwill
- why chronic counterwill is a sign of psychological immaturity
- the importance of not taking counterwill personally
- how to prevent and defuse counterwill in children
- how to safeguard one`s relationship against the fallout from counterwill
- how to avoid a battle of counterwill`s
- how to differentiate between a child with a strong will and one with a strong counterwill
- how to help children grow out of counterwill
Making Sense of Aggression
Aggression is one of the oldest and most challenging of human problems and indications are, that in children at least, it is on the rise. What tends to grab our attention is the more violating acts of aggression but what is truly alarming is the ground swell of attacking energy within and between our kids that erupts in their interaction, their music, their language, their play, their games and their fantasies. It is the rare parent or teacher that does not encounter aggression in one form or another, be it tantrums, tempers, fits, abrasiveness, abusive language, rude gestures, hostility, racism, taunts, put-downs, bullying, fighting, shaming, belittling, name calling, vicarious enjoyment of violence or the self-attacking forms of self-deprecation, death wishes and self-harm. It is a sobering reality that the kids who fail to grow out of aggression by school age will most likely bring their problem into adulthood, unless the underlying dynamics are addressed.
Adding to this disturbing situation is the fact that aggression is so unresponsive to the typical ways of dealing with misconduct. The normal tools of socialization - rules, consequences, discipline, warnings, sanctions, withdrawal of privileges, time-outs, isolation - despite their sometimes immediate quelling effect, actually tend to make matters worse. Likewise, attempts to teach or train in anger management, self-control or prosocial skills work best with the kids who need it least and least with the kids who need it most.
The challenge in dealing with children who have failed to grow out of aggression by school age is to understand what one is up against. The emotional hardening in these children has left them invisibly yet significantly crippled: maddened instead of saddened by futility, lacking appropriate ambivalence and surprisingly unalarmed. In addition, these kids lose the ability to learn from consequences or mistakes and cannot adapt when things go wrong. Aggressive children are basically stuck between a rock and a hard place: unable to change what counts and too defended to come to terms with it. Battling against symptoms is futile; the roots of the problem need to be addressed for any significant change to occur. It is not a matter of teaching the child a lesson or nipping aggression in the bud or even improving prosocial skills, but of restoring healthy functioning and development. Until that can be accomplished, the challenge is to compensate for the child’s dysfunction in ways that can minimize incidents and take the violence out of the aggression. Much can be done towards this end - in the home, in the school and in the community.
- to uncover the psychological roots of the aggression problem
- to recognize aggression in its many forms
- to provide a working model of aggression for purposes of assessment and intervention
- to appreciate the roots of the gender differences in aggression
- to learn to `read` aggression effectively
- to reveal the role of the limbic system and the prefrontal cortex in aggression
- to differentiate between incident management and developmental progress
- to outline three basic steps towards addressing any aggression problem
- to provide an appreciation of the inverse relationship between adaptation and aggression
- to provide an understanding of why aggression is increasing among children and why aggression is a part of so many syndromes and disorders
- to outline six pivotal points of intervention in the aggression problem
- to provide an appreciation of why the conventional methods of behaviour management don`t work with aggression
- to equip participants to handle personal attacks
- to equip with strategies to help the immature grow out of their aggression problem
11 CEU's will be available for MFT's, LCSW's. The cost of this seminar includes handouts and morning coffee & tea. (CEU's for Masters Level offerered through Transformative Parenting). Doctoral CEU's TBD.
Check out all three Northern California Events with Dr. Neufeld:
“How to Keep Children Safe in a Wounding World”
Wednesday, March 5th, 2014. 7-9pm. Santa Rosa, CA
“Heart Matters: What To Do With a Child’s Feelings”
Thursday, March 6th. 7-9pm. Unity of Marin. Novato, CA.
“Making Sense of Aggression & Defiance in Children”
A Two-Day Professional Training (open to all)
Friday-Saturday, March 7th & 8th, 2014. 9am-4pm. Novato, CA.
About Dr. Neufeld
Dr. Gordon Neufeld is a Vancouver-based developmental psychologist with 40 years of experience with children and youth and those responsible for them. A foremost authority on child development, Dr. Neufeld is an international speaker, a bestselling author (Hold On To Your Kids) and a leading interpreter of the developmental paradigm. While formerly involved in university teaching and private practice, he now devotes his time to teaching and training others, including educators and helping professionals. His Neufeld Institute is now a world-wide organization devoted to applying developmental science to the task of raising children. Dr. Neufeld appears regularly on radio and television. He is a father of five and a grandfather of three.
About Transformative Parenting
Transformative Parenting is a Parent Consulting & Education practice whose work is influenced greatly by Dr. Neufeld's developmental-attachment paradigm. They offer personal consultations, workshops, and courses all designed to help parents gain the insight and support they need to parent with confidence and handle learning and behavior issues.
Todd Sarner MA MFT, Director of Transformative Parenting, is a Neufeld-Certified Presenter and Parent Educator and is a former Faculty Member of the Neufeld Institute. He was personally invited by Dr. Neufeld to be one of the first participants in his professional training program.
Registration is $289 for this two-day training, including materials and CEU's. Walk-up registration will not be available unless arranged beforehand.
We use the secure Paypal system for online ticket sales. You do not have to have a Paypal account to buy tickets- Paypal will also process credit cards and checks.
What People Are Saying:
"Neufeld's approach has the power to change, if not save, the lives of our children." - National Post
"The thoughts and perspectives presented are informative — even inspirational — for those who choose to dedicate their lives and energy to students." -Bulletin of the National Association of Secondary School Principals
“A brilliant book, one to be taken seriously, very seriously.” - Dr. Peter Levine, psychologist and author of Waking the Tiger
"Genuinely new ideas and fresh perspectives on parenting...a worthy book with practical implications for mom and dad." - Dr. Mary Pipher, author of Reving Ophelia and The Shelter of Each Other
"This important book boldly states the problem and maps out plans for its solution. Let us take its suggestions seriously now so that together we can improve the future for our children and their children as well.” - Dr. Daniel Siegel, Psychiatrist and author of The Developing Mind and Parenting From the Inside Out
This presentation will take place at the beautiful Unity of Marin campus conventiently located near highway 101 in Novato (Hamilton Field).
Refunds requested one week in advance (before February 28th at 9am) will be refunded in full. Refunds requested more than 72 hours before the event and up to one week will be refunded the full amount minus $5o for administrative fees. There will be no refunds after 72 hours prior to the event (Tuesday March 4th at 9am). You can, however, transfer your registration to someone else at any time, just notify us beforehand.
When & Where
Transformative Parenting is a Parent Consulting and Education organization based in Marin and Sonoma Counties.