The fourth goal children try to achieve after contact, power, and protection, is withdrawal. Children need time to be alone, to reflect, to consider who they are and who they are becoming. They need time to talk to God and get to know Him. The Bible says, “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)
If you find that your child is avoiding you by spending more time in his room, on the iPad, or not wanting to join in the family meals or family fun, it may be he is seeking to reach this fourth goal. If a parent is over-protective or hovering, withdrawal may be more extreme. The child may shut down emotionally even if they are present in participation.
Too many questions or “help” in solving problems may actually drive the child to spend more time escaping. When your child is 2-years-old, he will express this by saying, “I want to do it by myself.” As children enter the preteen years they begin to individuate wanting to come to their own conclusions, trying to “find themselves,” and desiring more approval from peers than parents. This can be painful as the parents feel they are being shut out through the child’s negative attempt to reach the goal through undue avoidance.
“A wise parent is like a warm quilt, which protects, but does not smother.” It is important to require your child to participate at meals and with the family, but it is also important to give them healthy space as they seek to find their own way. Charles Fay’s “Love and Logic” put it this way:
Hope and pray that your kids make plenty of affordable mistakes when they are young. Hold them accountable for these mistakes with sincere empathy. DO this so they can learn while the “price tags” are small.
It is in overcoming the small challenges which gives them the stepping blocks to deal with the larger ones later on.