So, let's get right to it! My friend Jennifer actually asked for this post, so I hope she's see's it! I know her little one pretty well as I have been 'around' her for a few years and spent 1 whole year with her in my classroom. Here is her blog suggestion:
How to handle your own strong willed child in a loving Christ like manner when they get super stubborn about something they don't want to do or think they are afraid of when you know it is not going to harm them in any way.
First let me say that just as not every child is alike, not every parent is alike either. The way I see a situation may not be as another parent/adult sees it. You may not agree with my style and the way I handle situations and that's okay. But if I am going to share honestly I need to tell you one thing. I truly believe that the adult should never "give in" to a strong willed child if they truly want to be able to break the stubbornness without breaking the child.
Second, your home does not have to become World War 4! Now, it can if you allow the child to be the one in control and you don't like the way it is becoming controlled. And in this process there will be a few moments of tension and there are going to be moments where you feel like breakthrough isn't going to come but if you stay consistent ~ and YOU stay in control (both of the situation and yourself) then breakthrough comes easily.
1. Be consistent in EVERYTHING! Why? Strong willed children no matter how young or old will be looking for a gap in consistency. Why do you think that happens? It's their way to take over! Do you want your children ruling your home? Then stay consistent! KEEP a bedtime. KEEP a routine. KEEP a tidy house. Sounds simple, but sometimes for many parents this is the HARDEST area of parenting.
2. Allow them to make choices but only two. In many situations through the day, allow them two choices (which you have already aligned and are okay with) in which they can pick from. Example: Getting little Jane ready for school ~ set out two outfits. Allow her to pick the one she wants to wear. Those are her only choices ~ she doesn't like them? Send her to school in her PJ's! By doing this you are showing her that you do care about her because you did offer something great for her to wear, and if she chooses not to wear either one , she was in control of the outcome. Another example would be a consequence choice. Say same child disobeyed or displayed ill behavior. NOW she has two choices. Both choices need to be a punishment that you will stick with whether it be no tv for the evening, no toys, etc. (Remember even though it's her choice YOU have to live with the outcome too! Make sure the two choices are something that you will be consistent with and follow through.)
3. In several cases I have had to say "I am the parent. You can either do what I have asked you to do or not. But if you don't then you have chosen to disobey and that is not tolerated." I am not one for giving my kids much leeway when it comes to that. Why? Because Christ teaches us about obedience. He even taught us to turn the other cheek when someone hurts us ~ that means to give them another chance. Give your kids chances! Today is a new day, for you AND them!
4. Take many times out to tell your children you love them. Recognize when they make a good choice, and leave that door open for them to come talk to you. As a mom to three, I am very blessed that we have children who are pretty obedient, and respectful. And yes, one of them is a teenage girl!
When your children are young, they become a product of their environment. Most of their behavior isn't tainted by much exposure to other children's behaviors unless of course you have allowed that to occur. If they are stressed, it often is because they have been in a stressed home or many stressful situations. They learn very quickly about responses, and if you respond it is your responsibility to make sure it is a way you would want to respond every time. You cannot "check out" as a parent when these little ones are just learning how to make choices. If so, you indeed become part of the problem instead of the solution.
5. The best thing to do for a child who has a hard time with new experiences, is to expose them to MORE new things and NO choices. Give comfort, and enjoy the experience yourself. If you are nervous, or worried about their reaction you simply feed a reaction that might not be there to begin with. Children learn from our own reactions to things.
**None of this advice and commentary is directed at one particular individual even though it was their question that was chosen to blog about. These are MY opinions and experiences as a parent myself. I am a mother to a 14 (almost 15) year old daughter, and twin boys who will be 12 this year. I have also been a preschool teacher to older 3's young 4's for ten years. LOTS of experiences, and insight has been learned over the last 14 years. **