Do you have a little one that makes everything a power struggle? One that makes you wonder, “Why!?” or “Where’d I go wrong?” If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then you and I have something in common, a strong-willed child, or what I prefer to call, a spirited child. Over the last fourteen years I have concluded that the term “strong-willed” often carries a negative connotation. After many sleepless nights, I found the refined the term of “spirited.” In short, a spirited child often has these characteristics:
Every decision is a battle and to win these battles you find yourself pleading, begging or even bribing them;
Meltdowns can happen whenever they don’t get what they want, when they want it;
You can’t count how many times you’ve met with their teacher because they are “defiant” or "struggle with authority;"
They are inquisitive beyond belief, to the point where you find yourself questioning your own answer;
They often exhibit intense, anger or behavioral outbursts that lead to #3 or other parents not wanting any play-dates with you and yours;
Talking to them seems nearly impossible, because for some reason or another you feel like you’ve been in an argument for one-hundred hours; and last on this brief list, but not least,
They’re really impatient (if you must ask what “really” means, then this probably does not apply to the child in question).
These are just a few of the characteristics that these spirited children may exhibit and for those out there reading this and questioning, “Can I really make it through the upcoming teenage years?’ My answer, “YES, YOU CAN DO IT!”
Never, in a million years, from about three years old to a few months before her thirteenth birthday would I have ever believed myself…but now over three years later, I’m living proof that I got through those very spirited years that felt as though they’d never end or that we'd never survive each other.
Those endless nights, where I literally cried myself to sleep, re-reading and re-reading “How to Parent the Strong Willed Child?” Wondering how many more jobs would I lose, how many preschools and even schools would she have to go through to find the “right fit,” who would be left to help me and the worse one yet- the self-doubt that ran through my veins day in and day out about questioning my ability to even raise or help a child, not just my own but any child.
Those tears that just welled up in your eyes are the tears that tell me that may a hug, some baked goodies, and a vote of confidence will help you refuel yourself. Reassurance that you’re doing the best that you can and with a bit of modification I can help you through it. I want you know that you will be okay and that together, all of us can work this out- together with your child.
Together on your journey. - Dr Monique