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Making Sense of Counterwill

Counterwill is a name for the instinctive reaction of a child to resist being controlled. It can present itself as the reactive “no” of the toddler, the “you aren’t my boss” of the preschooler, as balkiness when hurried, as disobedience or defiance, or even as laziness or lack of motivation. It can manifest itself in working to rule, in procrastination, or in doing the opposite of what is expected. It can also express itself in resistance to learning. It can be expressed as passivity, negativity or argumentativeness. It can be experienced by an adult as insolence or as belligerence. It can create a preoccupation with taboo or antisocial attitudes within a child. When pervasive and severe, the child is incorrigible and may qualify for a diagnosis of Oppostional Defiant Disorder. It is such a universal phenomena that it has given rise to the terms “terrible two’s” and “rebellious teens.” The instinct to resist being controlled or coerced is one of the most perplexing and troublesome dynamics in dealing with children and youth. Despite the multitude of manifestations, the underlying dynamic is deceptively simple: a defensive reaction to perceived control or coercion.

This course reveals the dynamics controlling this instinct and provides suggestions for how to deal with it. This material is applicable to all ages and settings including:

  • parents with children from toddlerhood to adolescence
  • early childhood educators
  • teachers and assistants working with students from K to 12
  • helping professionals working with all ages

Course Outline

Session 1: Why Kids Resist and How to Deal With It

Session 2: Counterwill and Attachment

Sesion 3: Counterwill and Individuation

Session 4: Handling Counterwill


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What Clients are Saying

"Wise, compassionate, skilled... Heather's skilled guidance offered us new insights and practical tools to better support our growing boys."


Locations and Contact

All classes and counselling services for individuals, couples and families are based out of the beautiful Matraea Centre in Duncan, BC. Professional consulting services available to teachers and helping professionals on Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland.

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“The secret of parenting is not in what a parent does, but in who a parent is to their child.” – Gordon Neufeld