Understanding this sign when you see it in your
child can be hard because there is a lot of difference between authority and
power. Children learn to respect authority, people in authority, and learn to
accept authority. This becomes a value. Power is different. It gets its
importance from who is bigger and stronger. Power is something to fear; and
people with power are to be feared.
How your child sees you, teachers, and other
adults is important. Does he see you and other adults as people in authority or
as people with power? Your youngster may say, “You can’t make me do
it.” That is what he literally means. “You can’t or won’t use power
to make me do it.” He likely is right.
Say, “You’re right. Even if I could make
you do it, I won’t. I won’t treat you that way. I’ll help you learn it’s better
for you to do what I ask than to refuse; but you can still refuse. Please do
what I ask so I don’t have to figure out what other choices I have. Just
understand there are other choices.”