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  • Writer's pictureElisa Ferriggi

Ever wondered why your child is ‘so controlling’?

As a business owner, I (and many others I know) would probably consider myself as a ‘control freak’ but it serves me well in the role I am in, because there are many things I need to manage in order for them to be successful e.g. family programmes, blogs, public speaking, parent support groups, administration, contracts etc. In the same way like for many parents, being in control means you are more efficient and effective in your day-to-day tasks. So control is a good thing, right? Well, yes and no- feeling like you are in control and not loosing the plot is definitely a good thing, feeling competent in dealing with what comes up in life as it happens is also a good thing. The problem comes when we take ‘control freak’ to the extreme and find that the need to control has leaked into everything that we do and all aspects of our lives even to the point of controlling other people’s responses and actions in interactions. So what is it that makes us feel, so strongly, the need for control?


Think about it for yourself first, think about the times when you are more likely to become controlling. Are these times usually more uncertain in that they could go any number of ways, if you don’t step in? Are they more chaotic? Does it mean you get a specific desired response?

Times when we feel the need to control tend to be more dynamic by nature and could be perceived as more chaotic by some… there are multiple responses in the given situation… there are multiple ways that the situation, conversation, event or interaction could go… and we might not like it (for what ever reason but typically because we feel incompetent at dealing with it).

Imagine this… if you were the kind of person that struggles with uncertainty, change, variations and dynamic situations, wouldn’t you do the best you can to control everything, so that it stays the same, has the same end result, or routine, is predictable to you and is more static?

Of course you would! Because NO ONE, absolutely no one likes to feel incompetent at anything.

Typical things that a child might do to control a situation include:

Doing the same thing, repetitively.

Lining things up


Stacking things

Reciting lines from a DVD

Telling you what to say or do

If your child does not yet understand that the world is a dynamic place and that things change and it is OK, then this is going to be a very scary place for them. When they have developed and established the knowledge and ability to deal with uncertainty in a more productive manner, the world turns from being a ‘scary’ place to becoming an ‘interesting’ place which leads curiosity and a more typical developmental pattern. When this shift occurs, this is where the need for control decreases, trust is developed in the guiding relationship and children begin to feel more competent as individuals and apprentices in their interactions that include uncertainty.

This is the first step in helping your child, you must understand this concept because once you do, it helps you to understand your child more and helps you to see things from their perspective as to why they are doing what they are doing to control situations. This new found understanding will help you to make a shift from getting frustrated with this level of control to accepting it as an indication of your child’s progress in dealing with uncertainty in life, which contributes massively to a good quality of life.

If you would like to discuss how the RDI programme can help your child manage uncertainty then please contact me at

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