Children’s coping mechanisms to deal with parental power:
- Resistance, defiance, rebellion, and negativity. People will fight back when their freedom is threatened.
- Resentment, anger, and hostility. People want to be in control of themself. When others hold power over them, they feel resentful.
- Aggression, retaliation, and striking back. Parental domination via authority leads to frustration. Frustration in turn can lead toward aggression. If you hurt me, I’ll hurt you.
- Lying or hiding feelings. People may lie to avoid punishment. Lying is a learned response and not a normal part of life.
- Blaming others, tattling, and cheating. When multiple people are competing for rewards or to avoid punishment, they may resort to trying to make others look bad in an attempt to make themselves look good. Punishments and rewards promote competitive behavior ina family rather than cooperation.
- Dominating, bossiness, and bullying. Children may attempt to dominate smaller or younger children based on the power over behavior modeled by parents.
- Needing to win and hating to lose. A person may develop a strong desire to win and look good and want to avoid looking bad losing or looking bad. Life becomes a competitive world with the child against everyone else. This is evident in reward-based families where the parents give out positive evaluation including but not limited to money, gold stars, sticker charts, and verbal rewards.
- Forming alliances and organizing against parents. Children may band together and agree to tell the same story in order to avoid punishment. Instead of identifying with family, where authoritarian parents hold all of the power, children begin to identify instead with same age cohorts dealing with similar power struggles. They may feel pressure to do drugs, have sex before they are ready, skip responsiblities, or participate in illegal activities.
- Submission, obedience, and compliance. Children may submit out of fear of punishment from parents. For some, this may suddenly switch to resistance and rebellion. Others will retain the intense fear of people in positions of power, passively submitting to authority, denying their own needs, afraid to be themselves, and avoiding conflict.
- Courting favor. Some people will work to play up the authority figure and become a favorite or pet. They are often targeted by others.
- Conformity, lack of creativity, fear of attempting anything new, and fear of failure. Creativity comes from a freedom to experiment and to try new things and combinations. The fear resulting from being powered over stifles creativity and results in conformity.
- Withdrawing, escaping, fantasiing, and regression. A person who quits trying to cope with reality may withdraw in order to escape it. This can be manifested by daydreaming or fantasizing, inactivity, passivity, and apathy, regression to infantile behavior, excessive screen time, solitary play, sickness, running away, joining gangs, eating disorders, and depression.