parenting a strong willed child

dear world,

it seems i have a strong willed child. i didn’t know this was the technical term for an unruly, i’ll do what i want and you can’t make me change my mind kind of kid, but there are lots of articles out there declaring it to be so.

and so, i will now declare: i have a strong willed child.

the bright side, as our child care director tells me, is that V is a future leader. she has her own mind. she isn’t swayed by the group. she has an idea and she can stay focused on it in the face of pretty much anything. she will not be deterred. and she’s really smart and creative. and i’m super proud of her.

the down side is that sometimes her ideas aren’t what we’re doing right now and because she’s so focused, it feels to her like the world is ending. let me illustrate.

V fell out when i went to pick her up from school today. she had a wonderful day with her teachers. i got an excellent report. as soon as she saw me she ran away, she stomped her foot. i let her stay with her class while i went to pick up N on the condition that when i came back to her class to get her, we would leave. if she behaves well, she gets an after school snack.

she did not behave. she ran to hide in the tiniest corner of the classroom. i had to hand N to a teacher so i could physically remove V from the corner. i got her out of the classroom, went back to get N and V had run off. another teacher found her in the teachers’ break room. i’m holding N and have to physically bend down to pick up V. we make it to the front double doors where i plunk V down. she can’t escape into the parking lot or back into the school.

it’s like purgatory. for all of us.

once i get N into her seat, i carry V into the car. i manage to get her seatbelt on and for the entire drive home she yells, screams, kicks, throws things and hits because she can’t have her after school snack. i literally pulled the car over on the side of a busy road because she had figured out how to get her seatbelt off. i will not drive with my child not harnessed. i told her we would stay there until i could trust her long enough to keep her seatbelt on. i meant it.

eventually we made it home. MHM took her in the house. she finally calmed down before dinner.

this is where i’m at a complete loss. i’ve tried all the techniques the articles tell you to try. i’ve used a quiet voice while she yells. i’ve redirected her. i’ve validated her feelings and shared how it makes me feel. i’ve referred to the “rules” so it’s not my fault (as in, the rule is that you only get an after school snack if you have good behavior. do you think you had good behavior?). i’ve offered all manner of rewards for the behavior i want to see. we tried taking things away for behavior we didn’t want to see. i don’t know what else to do.

now, when i read an article about parenting a strong willed child i just get kind of angry. i feel like the person writing the article is academically speaking about a very real situation. maybe these things work in someone else’s world. i will keep trying. but i struggle because i know she’ll stop if i just give her what she wants. she would have stopped crying in an instant if i had given her the snack this afternoon. but, could i reward that kind of behavior? when is it giving in to save yourself and when do you hold out to hope your child turns into a good person?

wondering where the line is,

cm

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