I have three girls, ages 11, 8 and 1, that are all unique with different personality traits. Out of my eldest children, I have one who is creative, caring, thoughtful, wacky and doesn’t argue much, she just goes with the flow. My other daughter is strong-willed, stubborn, sensitive, caring, authoritarian, and vivacious (traits that may not generally go together), and argues with me a lot. I can see that our youngest is head strong already, she knows what she wants, and will let you know if it isn’t going her way (help me please!). I know there are many other mothers out there dealing with the same issues!
Mothers Day 2015
Years and years back if I daydreamed about the type of children I would rear, if having a girl, I would have wished to have a strong, caring child, that doesn’t take any crap, has good values and is kind and caring to others. I got part of that with her, but she is also very sensitive at times when it comes to friendships. This is something I am constantly working on with her.
The stubborn, head strong part is mostly seen at home, and at school I am told that she is shy and sensitive (is this the same child?!).
Now, I’m not sure if I was sent these traits in a daughter to test my will, as I can also be stubborn. This creates quite a lot of butting heads, and it’s generally early mornings before school. Tiny things become an argument, as she likes to think that SHE is the parent, and knows so much more than me (I swear she will become a principal or a police officer, SOMETHING where she is the boss).
Jennifer Garner steps out with mid-tantrum Violet – Jennifer Garner.
I know I don’t always handle it in the best way (even though my intentions are good), but it’s normally early, I might not have had a coffee yet, and I’ve had broken sleep from little miss 1. In amongst all this crazy tension, I have lunches to make, a baby to feed, dress and keep happy, myself to be dressed and organised, as well as reminding them of the time, and the things they need for school (I’ve tried letting go of doing them but am hopeless at it).
The arguments in the morning are generally about:
a) Both my girls dawdling and taking too long to get ready.
b) She wants to wear a skirt on an under 12 degree day and WILL NOT wear pants.
c) She can’t find socks, and will stand at the basket until she finds them (even when there are clearly none there), so she is yelling at me to get her some, and can’t move onto another task until she gets them.
d) She is too busy telling her older sister what to do to get ready and not following her own advice.
These particular arguments clearly “don’t matter” in the big scheme of things, but I feel they are part of a bigger picture, a bigger issue that could really become a problem if left and not addressed. To me, it is making her aware that she cannot believe that she runs the show, and that whether she wants to do something or not, it sometimes has to be done. I do not want to break that feisty nature in the process (I kinda admire it) , so it is a matter of picking the battles.
Some mornings I can walk away, and she is aware (although clearly not happy about it) that the discussion has ended and she needs to keep a move on. This is how I find it is best way to deal with it. Other times, when I clearly feel that a lesson can be learnt (crazily), I can’t seem to let it go, and have to talk to her about how her behaviour is unacceptable. This mostly does not work, as she doesn’t listen to me and is too busy telling me to be quiet inside her head.
From most of my reading, I should feel lucky to have a strong-willed child, so I will keep that in mind when I feel like my head is about to explode!:
“Have a strong-willed child? You’re lucky! Strong willed children can be a challenge when they’re young, but if sensitively parented, they become terrific teens and young adults. Self-motivated and inner-directed, they go after what they want and are almost impervious to peer pressure. As long as parents resist the impulse to “break their will,” strong-willed kids often become leaders.”
Here are my 3 tips to stay sane when dealing with strong-willed children (especially when you are weakest in the morning!)
Tip 1. Use their strong nature for good.
If your strong-willed child is “the boss”, give them jobs that make them feel that they have some control or power, they generally love it. They like to feel like they have some authority, and that they are contributing or making a situation better (meaning they are useful). Rewards are also good to encourage this too.
Tip 2. Choose when and where to fight your battles.
First thing in the morning is probably not the best time to teach your child life lessons, and will probably not work. Tell your child clearly what is acceptable (calmly and firmly) and walk away. You can discuss the behaviour and lessons at another time.
Tip 3. Break the behaviour, not the spirit.
Even if it is admirable to have a strong fortitude, strong-willed children also need to be given boundaries, and know that it is the parents that make the rules. It is the parents that control their freedom if behaviour is not acceptable. You control the consequences (no electronics, no toys, not TV, no playdates etc), and whether it is the right way or not, it is a great currency I refer to many times if the behaviour is not changing. Try not to put down or swear at your child, this will not help and can damage their self-esteem or spirit.
I adore my girls, but sometimes as we all know, parenting can be very challenging emotionally. If we can take it day by day, pick our battles, be consistent, with the future in mind, we can get through, keep sane and hopefully bring up strong and happy children. Help guide this beautiful strong determination, into a successful teen and adult (we will just need reminding at times!). We can only do our best.
Hopefully I will be ready and experienced for when my littlest grows up because she could be 10 times worse!
Do you have a strong-willed child, and do you have any other tips that help you in the morning?
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