I am the first to admit that E and I are not parenting experts. We have busy lives and one very strong willed child. In the 9 wonderful years since R has joined our lives, we’ve learned a lot about patience, compassion and parenting.
We all struggle every single day but we have developed some strategies that have helped us during difficult parenting moments. Here are 5 of our most often used strategies to parent our strong willed child:
1. Know your Child’s Triggers
This is a big one for R. He is usually happy go lucky, enthusiastic and energetic. However, if he is hungry or tired he becomes a mess.
We do our best not to let him get too hungry or too tired. This means that we’ll occasionally leave an event early and I must always have snacks on hand.
If the hunger monster and/or the exhaustion ogre pop out their ugly heads, E and I know to be patient. We know that this isn’t our son’s usual behavior and he needs something from us whether it’s a box of raisins or a pillow.
2. Respect and Embrace your Strong Willed Child’s Personality
I admit, it took me a long time to figure this one out. I’m stubborn but fairly quiet and generally willing to accommodate people. According to my parents, I grew up this way as well.
As R has grown, he has become more opinionated, super stubborn and very determined. Initially, this was very challenging to work with but I eventually realized that the best idea was to just respect and work with his personality.
Being a strong willed person will come in handy when R is older. Hopefully he’ll overcome his challenges, be confident and change the world in a positive way because of his personality. I certainly don’t want to stifle that!
3. Meet your Child at His/Her Level
The internet went crazy recently when there was a photo of the Duchess of Cambridge kneeling down to Prince George and Princess Charlotte to speak with them as they arrived in Canada. Apparently the Queen would not have been happy with this behaviour and got angry at Prince William for doing the same thing a few months earlier.
To E and I this behavior is normal. Personally, I always kneel to R’s level whether he’s freaking out or just talking to me. I think about how R must feel. If I’m speaking to someone do I want them looking down at me? By looking into his eyes and meeting him at his level we can have a better conversation and I can understand what’s really going on.
There are many times that this strategy doesn’t work the way I hope it will, but I still think it’s important to treat kids like the little people that they are, show them respect and let them know that they are being heard.
4. Pay Attention to Your Children
I feel like this goes without saying. If you’re going to have kids don’t you want to spend time with them? Not everyone sees it this way. Our lives are busy, our phones are constantly buzzing and I don’t know about you, but I often have loads of things on my mind. I find it hard to pay attention to myself on some days never mind my son.
This is one strategy that I work on daily. To accomplish this goal, I try to make sure that there are times during the day when R and I are home together so that I can give him my undivided attention. My hope is that spending this one-on-one time with R helps alleviate some potential tantrums before they start.
5. Give Yourself and Your Partner Some Downtime
Parenting a strong willed child is exhausting. They are full of energy, often in need of attention and can be frustrating. It can easily stress out and upset the most patient and calm people. When this happens, I find that I just need a break. Whether it’s five minutes to take a few deep breaths or an hour to go run errands and listen to podcasts. These breaks are important because they give me the time to settle my mind. This allows me to come back in a new frame of mind and try to be the effective parent R needs.
What is your favorite strategy when dealing with a strong willed child?