I will be doing a series of posts on how I raise my strong willed child. If any of you live with a strong willed child and you need help, I hope you will find this helpful in some way.
SO what is it like to raise a strong willed child? How hard can this be?
Very hard. Little did I know when my child’s first word was a big, FAT — NO!!!!!!
I recently read a book called “How to raise a strong-willed child” by Dr. Dobson. My sister is an avid reader and she suggest that I take a peek inside of it since she knew my “Roni” problems.
As many of you already know, I have a very strong willed child. If I had to assign a number from 1 to 10, 10 being the most strong willed, Roni would be a definate 15. Since the day I got pregnant with her, I knew this child would get what he/she wants. When I was pregnant with her, her movements were not smooth, they were jerky, like “move out of the way, here I am” type movements.
When she was born, she refused to cuddle, and her first word was “by myself” and “no”. She started speaking very early on like before she was a year old. With each passing month, her vocabulary multipled dramatically. She was speaking full sentences before she was a year and half old, like an adult. Her speech was clear and I always knew what she was talking about.
As Ronelle got older I started realizing more and more that I don’t have a manual for this child and everything I had known and imagined to work with her, miserably failed. I felt lost and did not know how to handle her 99.9% of the time.
So, I started doing a lot of research and reading everything I could about raising strong willed children. My first step in the right direction was to realize and admit that I have no clue what I’m doing with her. She is not your typical child that you can discipline and move on.
A lot of time she had left me in tears. I’m an emotional person but NOT to an extent where my child will make me cry. Especially a child under 2 yrs of age.
Nobody I know of has raised a strong willed child. If they have, they kept it quiet and maybe were ashamed to admit that they were failing. I don’t know but whatever the case was, I just didn’t know anyone.
With my research I had found out that 1 out 3 children is born strong willed. That’s a lot of babies like that! I’m not the only one and there have been cases like this before and I knew I wanted to learn from them. I wanted to know in depth what’s going on in their little brains and how to control it. There is nothing worse than knowing you cannont control your toddler.
I have also learned that these children are VERY demanding. They demand time, attention and anything they want. That’s a lot of things. And not knowing how to control and give and what not to give was painful.
As I read through some of examples of characteristics of strong willed children, I was able to mark every single one of them off. I was familiar with each one and knew right on the spot what the author was talking about. I could relate and almost burst into tears reading it. Someone out there knew what I was going through! Maybe there is help in my situation. Just maybe. I have exhausted everything I had known to work and ran out of ideas. I was spread thin. I couldn’t hanlde this on a daily basis anymore and I needed major help. I was at the end of my rope with her and she was only 2yrs old! I couldn’t even image what’s in the store for me and my husband when she turns into a teenager. That was my horror dream I refused to have. I needed to act and act fast. Fast as in NOW, TODAY.
After doing some research, I felt exhausted just by thinking about how much work there is involved. One article stated that if you have a strong willed child that get easily distracted, you have to plan ahead for those distractions to take place. You cannot be running late. If you walk your child to school every morning and one day you are late and you two are walking, and your child wonders off to pick a flower or catch a bug… you are setting yourself up for trouble. You do need to let your child explore. By catching a bug or picking a flower the child learns and explores. You simply cannot be mad because they are naturally exploring. You should be mad at yourself for running late and not allowing time for exploration.
Another example is when you go out to eat. It’s not natural for a child to sit still for one hour while you wait for food. You either need to order takeout or bring your child plenty of things to occupy them like crayons, books, toys, etc. Or you need to order ahead and make sure you don’t wait for 1 hour when you get there. Or take them for a little walk around the restaurant while food is being made. All that to consider just when going to eat.
Thinking about things like that makes me exhausted. Why can’t kids just be like other complaint kids. Why in the midst of my busy life consisting of work, family, kids and hobby I have to plan for things like that? Don’t I have enough on my plate? I have to make sure the house is clean, plan a menu, grocery shop, work, take care of bills, appointments, maintain a car, entertain my kids, take their pictures and still plan ahead for things like that? How is that fair? I barely get my sleep between all this.
At times I think it’s unfair. Other times I think I’m blessed. I’m blessed with a great husband by my side that does his share in this life, I’m blessed with two beautiful, healthy daughters that are my everything. I have everything I need and more that others don’t have. I should be more thankful. But God knew what He was doing when He picked me to be the mother of Ronelle. I’m new at this, I’m unqualified for such job, I have no experience or training or basic knowledge about this but I’m here. I have been handed this situation and I will do my best at raising my children. God also knew that I cannot possibly handle two Ronelle’s and He gifted me with a saint Ingrid. For that I am forever thankful. He was very considerate and gave me a break with this peaceful, compliant child.
I will start off with some of the characteristics of strong willed or spirited children.
(Spirited is a fancy term for strong willed)
Have you seen a strong-willed child barge into a toy store with one or both parents trying to catch up? When these children have an idea, they do plow ahead. They need to be taught self-restraint.
They tend to not communicate their ideas or plans to others. They simply get on with doing whatever they have in mind to do. They need to be taught to communicate.
Sometimes distraction will excite these kids, so they need to be taught to use their will to concentrate on the task at hand.
They have a surprising lack of respect for authority—especially strong-willed authority. With Roni I had found this to be off the charts. She doesn’t care about authority. She is ready to fight till she bleeds on a topic. This child will NEVER back down. What I had tried with her was force. Obviously that simply DOES NOT work. I just wanted to be able to tell her to do something and expected her to comply. She sees world from her own different view. When I say it’s bedtime, she says NO. She has other plans, like reading a few more books, drinking water, peeing, playing with her teddy, changing his diaper and so on. She will find a million excuses about why she shouldn’t go to bed. An hour later, when she finally does, with much frustration, tears and work, she gets up again. And again. And again. This process repeats until it’s nearly 1 am, we are all in bed. She will tiptoe back upstairs and find things in the dark to occupy herself. Or she will crawl into Indrid’s crib and steal her paci and make her cry and then lock her door so we wouldn’t be able to come in or hear her sister cry.
They are also especially sensitive to unfair tactics.
The strong willed child loves to create and find a lot of pride in producing original things. An opportunity, the material and place to create from becomes a necessity. Besides this, respect and genuine admiration will motivate this child to even greater and far better ventures. If you do not provide the materials or environment for innovating, this child will create and innovate using materials or things that they may not otherwise be allowed to use. Their creativity demands to be released and they should be given the chance to do so. Do not muzzle or restrain them, simply provide a conducive environment, advice, direction and a lot of admiration.
It is to the credit of the strong willed child that they rarely veer from the goal once their minds are set. In the formative years, your strong willed child will look up to you without really meaning to, to help maintain this focus by building a trusting relationship that shows a healthy interest in what they do. Whether it is school work, community, church or any other task, the strong willed child will maintain their focus and run further if they know someone is watching, interested and rooting for them as they go. In spite of their ability to focus on tasks, the lure to achieve can easily distract this child, so your help to stay focused on what matters is very essential. They might fight you, but remember that respect for one another and an understanding of what is going on will help a lot.
When Roni was about 18 months old, she had set a goal for herself. That goal was to get to that pink nail polish bottle. She had waited two days to do that. She had NOT forgotten about that bottle of pink magic. One evening I was preparing a meal and she sneaked into the bathroom. She climbed on top of the toilet seat and then onto the sink and got a hold of pink polish. That dripped all the way from the bathroom to the kitchen when she came to show off her pink nails! Her shirt was also all the way pink.
With an ability to process enormous amounts of information because of their solid stable personality, the strong willed child finds joy in challenges in just about any field of their choice. This child is capable of processing amazing amounts of information, analyzing and applying them at a rate that only one who is turned off to other distractions from around them is capable of doing. Provide a conducive environment and atmosphere for them to work in. They may be very interested in literature, maths, the sciences, music or any other area of their choice, help them to exercise their brain muscle knowing what they are good at and urging them gently in that direction.
The strong willed child is capable of turning you off completely just to exasperate you if they perceive you are trying to influence their choices against their will. We all understand that children need help to make decisions, this is one child who thinks they do not need your help. As a parent you have to be persistent and explain in clear and understandable terms why the child needs to pursue a particular route according to your wisdom. You may not always agree, but when it really matters, as a parent you must be resolute. Even if they may be antagonistic, the strong willed child is normally very capable of making solid decisions and understanding as long as they are provided with information that they can relate to and act on personally.
Gifted with a higher sense of direction, the strong willed child has definite leadership qualities in the raw, waiting to be cultivated. As a parent or guardian, give this child an opportunity to exercise that leadership by making it possible for them to develop their leadership skills both at home or wherever else they find themselves. They may be shy, but it is your responsibility to recommend them for tasks where they will develop their leadership skills or grow them. Give them plenty of opportunity within your relationships and at home to exercise their leadership ability. They will not become leaders when they are grown, they are becoming leaders each day they are growing up.
Have you seen children at play? Normally, there will be the child who is in charge of the team and making decisions on behalf of the others or simply providing needed guidance to the rest of the team each time they have activities. Every group needs a leader explicitly and the leader just arises without being asked to resume the responsibilities that no one else may be taking care of.
Roni is in charge of all the kids. Even older kids. But she especially likes to be in charge of her peers. That just gives her an ego boost altogether. She loves Jayden her cousin who is 4 months younger for that reason. She can control him. It’s somewhat of a challenge where younger kids present her with no fight for control. They just give up at once. I had once found Jayden naked waist down in the hall with Roni on top of him, changing his “diaper”. He laid still for her the entire time. She took his pants, socks, and undies off. Put new diaper, shorts and then let him go. He never lays still even for his mom to dress him! Talk about control!
Sensitivity to others or the environment is a natural given for the strong willed child. Because of this, they are able to respond to situations faster than other people who seek to comply and adjust to the status quo. Be very careful what you do to yourself, your partner or the community around you because each moment you are sending a message to your strong willed child on how life ought to be or is done in whatever circumstances you find yourself. There is therefore no better way of teaching the strong willed child than by the way you live.
Does this sound familiar??? If so, these blog post series are for you.
I will do dressing, playtime, bedtime, eating, etc. as days go by. I will also include personal stories about raising a strong willed child and pictures. Stay tuned! If you have any suggestions or if you know a certain something worked for your child, I would be happy to hear it.
This evening Ronelle had given her hair a bath. In the bathroom sink with hand soap while I went downstairs to change.
Here are some pics.