So you have a strong willed child on your hands! That personality that makes you want to scream at times, may be the very characteristic that makes him fight against all odds in the adult world. It could be that this little person within the sound of your voice has a noble calling and you have been picked to nurture this child. That means it is up to you, as a parent, to guide and mold, not break the will of your children. It is important that this young tender "will" be focused in positive directions rather than negative ones.
Discipline is of major importance with a headstrong child. When they want to do things their way, we marvel that this child is so different from our compliant one. This is definitely a testing ground. It is important to provide consistent firm and loving discipline. No matter how the child balks, firm parenting means security for the child. They feel safe knowing there are boundaries on what they can and cannot do.
It is easy to burst out in times of frustration with young children. I dare admit I have done this. I look back and realize how earth shattering I made little things. Every situation was major to me. Now I know it is wise to choose your battles. Stand your ground on things that truly matter, those core values you want to instill as a parent. For example, catching a child in a lie is a prime time to stop to explain how important it is to tell the truth, how people are known by the words they speak. Make instructions clear as to what family standards are, but make sure the consequences of misbehavior are just as clear. In addition, always, always follow through with what you say. Remember, you are role modeling for your child. It's important they understand that if you say something, they can bank on it!" This, too, is a part of truth telling.
A strong willed child is tender underneath the tough exterior. They not only need discipline and respect as a human being, they need encouragement. It is easy to see all the wrong things they do. But try deliberately looking for things they do right. Then, compliment them heartily. Let them know you are proud to be their Mom. Statements such as this increase their feelings of self-worth.
As Christians, we know God does not make mistakes. If you have been given the responsibility of growing a strong willed child, it is because God knows He can trust you. He knows, too, that you will have to lean on Him. He loves it when we do that.
"Call to me and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things,
which you do not know."
Antje lives with her husband, Richard, in MS and is a columnist for Parents & Kids Magazine. She loves writing and speaking on marriage and parenting. She is the mother of three sons.
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