I have a strong willed child. He’s a master negotiator, stubborn as hell and wants everything done his own certain way. He’s exhausting, often frustrating and constantly challenging. And I feel like punching someone every time they smile and tell me I’m just raising a “natural born leader.” He’s a leader all right. Because some days I feel he’s about to lead me right to the nuthouse.
This isn’t a post where I give you advice on how to deal with strong willed children, because I’m struggling with one and in no position to advise anyone. This is just me, putting it out there that these children are a challenge, and they will challenge you to a point where you are about to flip out and feel like your head is going to spin around and don’t even know who you are anymore except for this rage filled parental person. A challenging child will also teach you to access a level of patience and understanding you may not know you have, but you have no option but to find it or quickly develop it for the sake of your sanity.
As we get close to my son’s fourth birthday, we are moving from just strong willed and right into being overly “bossy.” Control is the issue here, and he needs to have all of it. He wants to be in charge of everything from who walks in front to when I come into the room. Instructions like “You stand in the hall until I sit on my chair and then I’ll let you know when you can come in.” Ridiculous, right?
As I have no idea what I’m doing, at first I indulged these requests. It made it easy and there was no fighting. However, as the requests grew and got more involved, I realized I was encouraging my little dictator and giving him WAY to much power. When I tried to start correcting this is when the daily meltdowns and fights began to escalate, and I got so desperate I started renting episodes of SuperNanny–type shows just to see if I could learn something.
And I did. So now we have a designated “Calm Down Corner” and I don’t indulge his every command. That results in a lot of Calm Down Corner time. The amazing thing is, just like on TV, each time I implemented the CDC, the times got shorter as he realized I was not putting up with it For Real. There have been some extended tantrums of course, but overall I at least feel like I can do something now instead of yelling (or hiding.)
Discipline, consistency, the willpower to resist his tears… these are not things I’m good at. But I’m learning. Having a strong willed child will either make you a stronger person, or break you and leave you a miserable wreck. Sometimes I feel it does both to me on the same day.
They say these are the kids that are going to run the world some day, and I believe it. My son is certainly adept at running his own little world and mine. The hard part is learning to channel it into something productive and not crush his spirit in the process. I want him to feel like he is important and loved and safe. But also want him to do what the heck I tell him to do without 20 minutes of negotiations for once! Some days I feel like everything is a fight from the moment I wake up and get out of bed wrong to the moment we go to sleep and I’ve picked out the wrong pajamas. While the rest of the world is telling me “You’re doing a great job!” the person it matters to most has been reduced to a screaming blubbering mess because I spread the peanut butter on before the jelly.
A quick Google search eased my mind that it’s not just me, and it’s not abnormal either. And hopefully my post will be added to the search results for other desperate moms feeling like they’ve got the world’s biggest uphill battle in the tiniest package. Rest assured, there are other people out there suffering just like you! And I’m one of them.
Stay strong Mamas! and Dads too! We have our work cut out for us. And it’s our job to grow these little tyrants into the amazing people they were meant to be.