If you have a strong willed child, you know how hard it can be to get through one day with them without losing your cool. If you think a 2 year old looks pathetic throwing a tantrum, you haven’t seen the mother of a strong -willed child throw one. Yes. They literally break down all your barriers and push every last button you have and even the ones you didn’t know you did. If you are asking yourself, “Do I have a strong willed child?’ then, most likely, you don’t. You would know, trust me!
All of my children are stubborn and strong willed at times, and very active, but I have one little girl who has literally pushed me past my breaking point many, many, many times. She WILL NOT take no for an answer, she doesn’t understand the meaning of GIVE IT UP, and for as long as I can remember, she has always had the highest pitched scream known to man, very comparable to a banshee! In fact, She has used that scream to her advantage for so long now, that she has nodes on her vocal chords. I don’t know what her normal voice sounds like because it has been hoarse for so long. Every specialist I took her to, gave me the same verdict, “Try and get her to stop screaming.”
Uh, huh. Ok, I’ll give it my best shot…
Well, Im happy to say that she is now 5 and has honestly gotten better, or maybe we have just learned a lot together. I used to DREAD waking up every morning and facing the long day with her. We would butt heads ALL DAY. There are so many parenting books out there and plenty of specialists who think they have all the answers on how to parent your strong willed child. I’m not a specialist, and I’m not here to give you any miraculous solutions, only my experience as a parent and what I’ve learned from experience.
What sets them off? You might be thinking EVERYTHING, and you might be right. Some children are just born with very stubborn and persuasive personalities and you just have to work with that. Some children have reasons for why they are strong willed. I had to dig deep in my heart and ask myself, “Why is this child so hard? What am I missing? What are her needs? Well, when I really thought about it, I realized that my daughter is the 3rd out of 4 kids. My son, who came right before her, was an extremely hard toddler. He was active like no one’s business and an escape artist to boot. I feared for his safety every day and some nights didn’t sleep for fear he would wake up and sneak out of the house in the dead of night. There are only about 18 months between him and his sister so she was born right about the time I was dealing with all of this. I am ashamed to admit that my daughter just didn’t get enough of the love and attention that she so badly deserved because I was so stressed out with her brother. I’m convinced that’s also why she became a screamer, because that’s what she had to do to get some attention! Having realized this, it gave me a new perspective of where she was coming from.
One on one. I have found that my daughter just needs and craves one on one time. All children love and need one on one time but she DESPERATELY needs it, like a parched desert needs water. I learned this by watching the difference in her temperment when all the kids were home for the summer compared to now when the 2 oldest are in school and she is at home all day with me and the toddler. She is a completely different person now that school has started because she has time with me, and quiet time with herself.
Find their strengths. Believe it or not, strong willed children make awesome grown ups who know what they want in life and aren’t afraid to get it. How do I know that? I come from a family of 8 with some very strong willed siblings. (I wasn’t one of them. I was very calm and obedient:) My daughter loves to sing, which is kind of ironic seeing as how she has a hoarse voice and nodes on her vocal chords, but she does. Music calms her and makes her happy. Maybe your child loves art, or math, or reading, or dance. Whatever it is, help them develop those strengths. Find what makes them happy in life.
A soft answer. I have always been a mom who hollers. It’s in my genes. But getting into a hollering match with my daughter never has good results and there never seems to be a winner. It’s just a fight to the death. I’m the parent so I felt the need to stand my ground but unfortunately, so does she! It was always a horrible duel that ended with no winners and tears on both sides. I have learned, with her, that I just need to stay calm, use a calm voice and walk away if needed. I have learned to say, “Would you like to try that again?” about 20 times a day. (hey! It used to be about 100 times a day, so we’re making progress!)
Love and forgive. I have been truly humbled by this little one. She has taught me how to get control over my own emotions and how to forgive. She can give the meanest crusties and scream like no one’s business, but she is also very connected to her heart and is quick to forgive. Even though she still struggles every hour of every day to have patience and wait for what she wants, when she smiles, she lights up an entire room!! I can’t help but think that she has a great purpose in her life!
Remember who they are. Do you believe children come from God? I do. I believe they are His children first, and that he cares deeply about them and about you and me. Have you noticed how many more strong willed children are being born these days compared to several decades ago? It’s true! There are many conclusions that can be had about why but here is my own conclusion. Look at the world we live in today. It isn’t the world it was when I was a kid that’s for sure. Our kids NEED to be stronger than we once were. Our Heavenly Father is wise. He knows. I believe these children are stronger because they HAVE to be. So, before you go cry (I know you have!) and complain and wonder if you can make it even one more day with this child, think of the following. You must be an incredible parent that God would entrust you with such a strong spirited chid. He must have known they needed YOU to be their parent and he must have known they would have the experiences they needed to have in your care. So, get a good night’s sleep, start your new day tomorrow on your knees and ask for his help. He has helped me and is still helping me with my crazy bunch of munchkins. If all else fails, remember, THIS TOO SHALL PASS!
If you’re looking for more great resources, I recommend this book and this book.
Here’s a funny clip I thought you might enjoy about patience in parenting. It’s one of my kids favorites! Thanks for stopping by!
Other posts by Katie:
How to Stop Screaming at Your Kids
10 Tips for Keeping Your Sanity While Raising Children