It’s never a good idea to start writing a parenting post, after you have just lost it at your toddler, unless of course you perhaps want to write a ‘what not to do,’ which I did briefly consider. It probably would have gone something like this:
What not to do:
- Assume that bed time is synonymous with knock off time; that never happens
- Attempt to do anything for yourself ever, because someone will interrupt you the second you try
- Pretend you know the first thing about parenting, and decide to write a blog about it.
And now, I will break rule three, and write the aforementioned post. 🙂
As most of you know, I have four children. Two are pretty cruisy, relaxed people pleasers, and the other two are loud, strong willed and stubborn. I’m under no allusions as to which ones take after me. 😉
I thought, that I had pretty much seen it all when it came to kids. I’ve been screamed at and hit and bitten and been hated because I insisted that the whole banana be eaten, and other such tragedies, and then Ava came along.
Sweet, beautiful Ava.
Strong willed, bossy, master manipulator Ava.
She takes it to a whole new level.
My littlest child, has always been very switched on. From the minute she was born, she never had that shocked new born look about her; in fact I distinctly remember holding her for the first time, and her eyes saying ‘Oh. There you are. I’ve been looking for you.” It was like she already knew exactly who I was.
As she has grown, this ‘worldly wisdom’ has just grown. Her vocabulary developed early and strong, so she has been able to ask questions, and understand them for a long time. In fact, Boatman and I are often amazed at how much she understands. She seems far older than two and a half.
Unfortunately, this grown upness, extends also to her debating skills; the kid knows how to argue. Persistence is her weapon; she will go on and on and on and on, gradually wearing me down until I am forced to say yes, because I have tried everything else.
Or at least that’s how she thinks it will work. 😉
You see what she is yet to realise, is that that stubborn streak comes straight from me, and I’ve had 28 more years to cultivate and perfect it, and I hate to lose.
It’s an epic battle of the wills; me the mum who has a whole lot more power, but is tired and over fighting, and she the toddler who is willing to risk anything in order to stay out of bed for five more minutes.
Whilst I haven’t got all the answers, I have learnt a few things dealing with all these dramas night after night, and being the kind caring person that I am, I thought it only fair to share them. 🙂
- Strong willed kids need strong boundaries: It’s true that every child needs to know where the line is drawn, but especially the stronger ones. It’s easier to often assume they need less guidance because of their sheer determination, and whilst this may be true on occasion, they also need to know there is someone bigger and stronger than them. The world is a scary place if you’re a little person, and no one is keeping you in check.
- Following on from that, strong willed kids need strong willed parents. Sometimes this comes naturally for mums, and dads, but for some it won’t. Some mothers will back down a lot quicker, not because they are bad mums, but because that is just the way they are wired. If you are one of those mums, and you have a feisty little person in your care, can I encourage you to do your best to toughen up for them. They need to know you’re strong, so that they can learn to respect you.
- Stick to your guns. If you say something mean it. You can’t afford to back down after you have given a directive.
- Avoid power struggles. Strong willed kids love to fight, and if they sense there is something to win, they will do their best to win it. As much as possible, try to avoid getting into a situation where there is a winner and loser, because in the end you will both lose.
- Be pre-emptive. Try and work out what will cause an issue and get there first. For us, bed time has become the battle field, so I’m learning to be prepared. Leaving water in the room, taking her to the toilet first, leaving the bedroom door open and the hallway light on, so that there is no legitimate excuse to have to get out and
annoytry and delay the inevitable.
- Make consequences clear, without threatening, and follow through. This comes back to sticking to your guns.
- Stubbornness is a great quality. The flip side of it is persistence. Bossiness can be converted to great leadership. Strength of character will see kids through screaming at us for ice-cream, to becoming strong, wonderful adults who can make the world a better place. It’s all in how we help them develop that character.
Like I said earlier, I’m not an expert, and we certainly still have our issues, but these steps have given us a huge amount of help in dealing with our strong willed kids. Even if, on the tough days, all we can see is the future leadership potential, that puts us one step ahead of a frazelled stressed mum who is in dangerous need of a wig.
Do you have strong willed kids?
How do you deal with them?