Compliant – rebellious kids

conflicted emotional support


What does having a rebellious child mean for you? If you have a teenager you will have an idea, they can be surly, grumpy and un-responsive. What is it all about? Why do kids need to go through that stage and why are some worse than others?



In essence, what the rebellious kid is doing is developing and desperately trying to hang on to their sense of identity. As any child develops, one of the main tasks of life is trying to figure out who he or she is. We call it a ‘sense of self’. If the kid sees people, parents particularly, as getting in the way of that, they have a choice – he or she can conform and do what the big people want, or they can rebel.
When a child is very small, and there are some very rebellious toddlers… he or she usually learns to conform. That is, do what the ‘big people’ want them to do. Why do they do that? Generally, because what happens after the compliant behaviour is something that they like. A smile, a stroke, something that tells them that the behaviour was approved of. They then attach that to their sense of who they are – they conclude that who they are is approved of.

So what happens with a rebellious kid? This is a slightly more sophisticated process. The rebellious child sees conforming as losing something rather than gaining something. They are losing a sense of their autonomy and power. I remember the first time my two year old daughter said to her older brother, “No! Me do it!”.

That sense of power and autonomy is what gives a child confidence in their own abilities. If they are allowed and encouraged to take their power they don’t have to fight for it by being rebellious.

Traditionally, the sense is that conforming is good and rebellion is bad. This can also influence how children can think of themselves, the thinking may go like this:

‘If I am compliant, I am thought of as good and people will like me. If I am rebellious, I am bad and I will be thought of as trouble and not approved of, so that must make me a bad person.’

This can be very confusing for a child that is trying to develop ideas of who they are.

understanding children

If I want to be me, think like I think, feel what I feel and do what I want, the big people will not like me and think I am bad. If I am who they want me to be by ignoring what I really want, what I really think and what I really feel, then I will be approved of and they will like me.’ How does a child deal with that?

To some kids, it is obvious that overt rebellion would not be a good idea as they are fully aware it brings very negative consequences: punishment, withdrawal and disapproval. These children learn that to hang on to their ‘sense of self’ they have to rebel but in a very passive way.

Have you had the experience where you ask a child to do something and they appear compliant by agreeing to do as you ask, but then never actually getting around to doing it? These kids may be the ‘passive aggressives’ of the future, in training!

Maybe you are aware of the ‘conforming’ or ‘rebelling’ kid in you and wondered about it. A rebellious child can often get into a lot of trouble, even though they are aware the options for doing it differently. Maybe you get angry with yourself for being so compliant with everyone when you don’t really want to. Or maybe you are aware of the passive aggressive streak in you that doesn’t really get you what you want, or the internal conflict between being compliant or rebellious.

If you are interested in learning more about compliant and rebellious traits either in your children or internally within your own make up, contact a qualified counselling professional to learn more about Transactional Analysis.

Sand Play Therapy

The approach of integrative child therapy is a holistic one that can engage in the multiple facets of a client’s life: including emotional, psychological, creative, and spiritual. It is a therapeutic approach that seeks to offer a flexible process that can support a client to attend to present, past and future concerns.

Through the use of and integration of humanistic, psychodynamic archetypal and transpersonal lenses and therapeutic techniques, client and therapist work within a creative container that honours the client’s wounding and supports the discovery of ways to work with limiting self-beliefs, current challenges and the discovery of new or buried insights and the capacity for self-healing.

Through my additional training in therapeutic play therapy work with children, I have developed a respect for the multidimensional experiential therapeutic tool that offers clients a process to objectify inner reality within the therapeutic relationship.

Historically, it was Margaret Lowenfeld, initially a paediatrician working in London in the 1920’s and then as a child psychoanalyst in London, who pioneered sand play in her therapeutic work with children. She created a therapeutic environment, which enabled free expression and safe experimentation. She described her way of working as the “world technique” and kept small objects and models in drawers, which the children could use as they needed, playing with them in trays of sand to which water could be added.

Experimental space and process
As a therapist working with sand tray with both children and adults, I value the process that enables clients to be supported to build images of preferred futures revisit, past experiences, memories and hopes in a creative way. The client may make a series of scenes over a number of sessions or within the same session. In therapy the sand tray lends itself easily to many theoretical styles – Jungian narrative, solution focused and gestalt, I locate the use of sand play within the context of Gestalt experimentation.

The sand tray process is a dynamic and creative one. The client expresses certain preferences, in the choice of figures which are valued over others. It is not random or arbitrary. Objects are placed in this way, rather then that and new, deeper, hidden or lost meanings are often discovered or created.
The figures and sand tray

The box is traditionally wooden with a blue bottom (to represent the sky). The therapist builds a collection of miniatures for clients to work with that includes: fantasy creatures, human, domestic animals, everyday objects, and representations of the elements of fire, air, water and objects that are culturally diverse.
Sand can take time to dry and now that we have a choice of wet or dry sand in the sun room, it is best to keep the wet tray wet and the dry, dry (if you see what I mean!).

The sand tray process
The therapist can have a purpose intent on inviting the client to use the sand tray for example, pick some figures to represent your family of origin or your hopes or your fears. Or it can naturally be used as the session develops, “Would you like to show me this feeling in the sand tray?” or, “Show me what you might like to say to that person next time you have the opportunity”. The therapist may even simply invite the client to demonstrate how they are feeling.

The sand tray can be used following a visualization, or a whole family could recreate the conflict that they had the previous night to use the figures to consider ways forward. In this way that sand tray becomes dynamic and a co-created space with the therapist.

The therapist can simply be the witness to what happens for the client by holding space and being quiet, or ask questions and be a part of the creative process by also building. Clients can be invited to speak from the position of the particular figures in a particular scene, “I am the horse and I am feeling free, I am a feather and I am feeling light, or I am fox and I am feeling hunted.”

The process can be immensely powerful and in staying within the scene and the language of the scene, the sand tray becomes a container for the complex range of human emotion, thoughts, metaphor, ideas and feelings. I have worked with clients who recall their sand tray work in amazing detail from months, even years before.

Clients may want to interpret what they have created or keep it in process and not talk about meaning. It can also be used as a dialogue between the client and therapist regarding what the client wants to take from the process into their life.

The therapist’s role is to be sensitive to what is unfolding for the client, but not dominate or take over. As with working in other mediums and with other techniques in art therapy, what happens is what needs to happen for each individual client.

The possibilities for the use of sand play experimentation are endless. At the end, we discuss if they want to about their tray, we take a picture and the therapist dismantles the picture/ story when the client leaves the room.

Death and how to tell children

89236223 bearainbow (1) download (2) download Death, how to tell children

Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Jane I Taylor MBACP MCS (Acc) PRCC

Many adults have been affected by the way they have been excluded as children when it came to death. It is not uncommon for therapists to see adult clients who were traumatised as children by being left out of the death of someone close to them. At the age of four we can understand death, yet most children are considered too young to be included when adults are grieving.


Children need to be told what has happened with words they can understand for their age. They should never be told the person has ‘gone away’ or is ‘sleeping’ this is confusing and may be very frightening. Children need to be a part of what is happening, it is not a bad thing for children to see adults crying, it is a natural way for them to understand what is going on and it is normal to grieve when someone dies.


Children should never be forced to see the deceased or kiss them, touch them, but if the child wants to with support of adults, it should not cause issues later. Communication and inclusion with the child, with words relevant to their age, is the key to their understanding. Having pets in childhood can help children to understand death. Some pets naturally only live a short life, a couple of years or so, this can be the start of children understanding when someone close to them dies.



However when the child is included in the death of the person {especially when they are close}, so be honest and apporpriate in what you tell them, it does help the grieving process for the youg person