These are the kids that will look at you blankly when asked something. For example, if you were to say something like, "Why didn't you hand your homework in?," they would likely reply, "Homework? What homework? Nobody asked me to do any homework."
|Passive Resistance Children|
These kids are as cool as a cucumber; their parents are the ones who feel infuriated and blocked out. One of these kids reflected recently on his upbringing by saying, "I had a wonderful childhood, it's just that it nearly sent my parents mad."
Passive Resisters are sometimes very bright and very sensitive people. They can retreat and avoid life in order to avoid failure. They are similar to Competitors in that they don't care much about consequences.
These kids almost have a style of learned helplessness in which passivity, ducking their head, and hoping it will all go away seem to be their main life strategies. They often like to fly under the radar, and seem to live on the periphery of the main arena of life.
Increasingly, I hear parents talking about this group in their late teens and early twenties, as they hover around home avoiding the main challenges of life - to the great frustration of their parents. Where there has been a separation or family break-up, these behaviors become accentuated.
These kids are so calm on the outside, you could think they are implacable. They often retreat from life and are very private about their thoughts and feelings. They can seem to be out of touch with their surroundings. They often lose possessions and appear not to listen or take information in. They. can be hard to get going.
If you have a child who resembles this group of behaviors, congratulations, you have a potential powerhouse on your hands. The parents, who become alternately perplexed and infuriated with their child's behavior, find themselves saying imploringly, "Just talk to me, tell me what's going on." When communication is this frustrating, you may need to send in the interrogation team!
Why they need help
Passive Resisters are very good at isolating themselves, spending endless hours in their bedroom reading, playing video games, and generally avoiding human interaction. Being happy in your own company is one thing; being in withdrawal is quite something else.
It is often difficult to gauge the level of concern we should have for these young people, partly because it is so difficult to engage them in a discussion about their thoughts or feelings. A typical discussion goes something like:
Parent: "How are you?"
Child: "All right" [or "Not bad"].
Parent: "Anything special happen today?"
Parent: "What would you like for dinner?"
Child: "Whatever you're cooking."
By this stage, most sane parents will be gnashing their teeth! They know that for their child to thrive in the world, she has to learn to communicate, empathize, and connect with other human beings.
Common adult responses to misbehavior
The great temptation for parents of Passive Resisters is to want to rev them up, motivate them, get them inspired and switched on. Parents can also start pleading with them, "Just tell me what you want."
When these attempts to get inside their heads or to get them moving don't work, parents are left worrying even more. This then sets in motion a cycle of concern alternating with fury.
Common responses when told to stop misbehaving
Passive Resisters are minimalists. They are often placid and noncommittal. Communication can boil down to "What?," "Dunno," "As if...," and "Whatever." To find out more, you can check out Passive Resistance Children.