There’s A Reason Your Child Always Fights You For Control

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This post is from an adoptive parent whose hope is that other parents will learn and grow from his experiences. As parents of children with a trauma history, we often find ourselves engaged in futile battles with them for control. But when we understand the why behind their fight, the way we parent them can change.

We understand.

Let’s begin there. We understand the battles you’ve gone through (and are going through) with your child. We’ve been there. Every single day your child may fight you for control and it feels exhausting. Sometimes, the battle makes sense. Often, the battle makes no sense at all. As parents we feel that life is a merry-go-round and we just want to stop feeling so dizzy.

If you are experiencing this in your own home, it may look something like this. Breakfast is a battle. Getting ready for school is a battle. Brushing teeth is a battle. Where they sit in the car is a battle. Snack time is a battle. The brand new pair of shoes you just purchased for them are now lying at the bottom of the trash bin, and when you ask for a chore to be complete your child rolls their eyes so far back you think they might get lost in there. You begin to wonder if the sky in fact is blue because that same child just argued for a solid hour to the contrary.

If you’re anything like us, it leaves you confused, lost, and defeated. What if we told you there was something deeper going on? What if we gave you a different perspective on their constant battling? What if we told you that even though your child has been in your care for years, there’s still something embedded deep inside of them propelling them to fight, and it has very little to do with you? What if I told you that a perspective shift could change your parenting and in turn begin healing in your relationship with your child?

Here’s a couple of perspective shifts to help you change the way you view the daily battles with them…

PERSPECTIVE SHIFT #1: Trauma changes the way your child sees the world around them.

Remember that your child’s trauma history has changed their brain. Yes, everyone who experiences trauma, (even a child adopted at birth,) has that trauma wired into the way their brain developed. That memory of the trauma can cause the amygdala (or the brain’s alarm system) to sound, causing the child to function from a place of survival. That survival mode actually overrides the pre-frontal cortex (where the ability to reason lives.) That illogical argument that has been frustrating you, may actually be out of your child’s control.

If your child suffered chronic trauma before coming into your care remember that this can leave the brain in a constant state of alarm. Imagine a fire alarm going off while you are sleeping, working or building relationships (frustrating right?)

Your role as caregiver is to help your child move into a state of emotional regulation so the alarm will turn off. You need to help your child feel safe so their brain can relax and stop fighting at every turn. Listen to your child, acknowledge their feelings, ask questions to help get to the root of what their brain and body are feeling. Do not fight.

PERSPECTIVE SHIFT #2: Consider their loss.

Think about this for a moment. Our children have experienced a deep loss and they had no control over it.

I’m a homebody. I always have been. When I was a child all I wanted to do was stay at home with my parents. The first summer I went to summer camp as a 6th grader was a disaster. The camp was fun but all I wanted to do was go home and be with my parents. I hated being away from them. One night, during the week, I snuck up to the camp lodge and used a pay phone to call my dad to come and pick me up. He did. And boy oh boy, the deep relief I felt when I saw his truck pull into the camp parking lot was beyond relief.

I fought for control during a week at summer camp. Imagine the loss of control our children feel when they have entered into foster care, moved to multiple homes or even experienced the death of their caregivers.

Consider the child who was chronically abused by a first parent, relative, or caregiver before coming into your care. Something was taken from them and they had no control over this, and zero power to stop it from happening. This has left them in a constant fight with the world around them. They fight because deep within them, something is telling them they’re going to get hurt.

Shifting your perspective, can change everything for you. It can change the way you respond to your child. It can change your feelings from frustrated to compassionate. When you change your response to the fight, you can begin to help your child heal and in turn change your relationship with your child.

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Mike and Kristin Berry are the Co-Founders of The Honestly Adoption Company and have been parents for nearly two decades. They are the authors of six books, and the host of The Honestly Adoption Podcast.

Sarah Gray

Sarah Gray is the executive assistant to Mike and Kristin Berry. And she is the best in the land. In addition to providing a warm and friendly response to the many emails our company receives on a weekly basis, she also manages Mike and Kristin’s speaking and meeting schedules, and makes sure that team events go off without a hitch.

Nicole Goerges

Nicole Goerges is a Content Contributor & Special Consultant for The Honestly Adoption Company. She works with Mike and Kristin as a recurring co-host for the Honestly Adoption Podcast, and co-host of Kitchen Table Talks, exclusive video content for Oasis Community, along with Kristin. She is a fellow adoptive mom, and former foster parent.

Matt McCarrick

Matt McCarrick is the Content Production Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. If you’ve loved listening to our podcast, or enjoyed any of the videos trainings we’ve published, you have Matt to thank. He oversees all of our content production, from video edits, to making sure the tags are correct on YouTube, to uploading new videos to Oasis, to hitting publish on a podcast episode, he’s a content wonder!

Karen Anderson

Karen Anderson is the Community Engagement Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. She spends the bulk of her time interacting with, and helping, people through our various social media channels, as well as providing support for Oasis Community members through chat support or Zoom calls. In the same spirit as Beaver, Karen is also passionate about connecting with parents and making them feel loved and supported. Karen is also an FASD trainer and travels often, equipping and encouraging parents.

Beaver Trumble

Beaver Trumble is the Customer Care Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. Chances are, if you have been in need of technical support, or forgotten your password to one of our courses, you have interacted with Beaver. He is an absolute pro at customer care. In fact, he single-handedly revolutionized our customer care department last year. Beaver is passionate about connecting with parents and making them feel loved and encouraged.

Kristin Berry

Kristin Berry is the co-founder of, and Chief Content Specialist for, The Honestly Adoption Company. She spends most of her time researching and connecting with guests for our podcast, as well as direction, designing and publishing a lot of the content for our social media channels, blog and podcast. She loves to connect with fellow parents around the world, and share the message of hope with them.

Mike Berry

Mike Berry is the co-founder of, and Chief Marketing Specialist for, The Honestly Adoption Company. He spends the bulk of his time and energy designing and building many of the resources you see within our company, as well as social media and email campaigns. His goal is to use media as a means to encourage and equip parents around the world. He is also the co-host of The Honestly Adoption Podcast.