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Counterwill


The Gordon Neufeld Conference is recommended for parents, teachers and helping professionals. An attachment-based approach, Neufeld prioritizes the parent-child relationship above all. He states when the relationship has been altered or threatened, counterwill is likely to occur. Counterwill originally coined by psychoanalyst Otto Rank can be defined as instinctive resistance and defiance when their is perceived coercion. Children will say no and do the opposite of what their parents ask as if it were a knee jerk reaction when they feel something is being imposed on them. Neufeld suggests that counterwill is strong when attachment is weak, when attachment is strong counterwill is weak. Now it is important to note, counterwill is normal to occur time to time and is especially expected in later adolescence when the need for autonomy grows. However, when your 3 year old is constantly kicking in their heels because they don’t want go to Dance class even though they love it once they are there, counterwill may be present. How do you correct counterwill? Work on the relationship, “collect before you direct” - a simple way to remember to warm up the relationship before making a request. When children feel you are trying to understand them rather than only pushing your agenda on them, it strengthens the relationships and increases collaboration. Furthermore, Neufeld stresses the important of play in children and how parents and educators are not prioritizing this need as fundamental to emotional health. You want your child to listen? Try making it into a game.