My Strong- Willed Toddler

Well, it definitely happened. God gave me a child that is a spitting image of my own childhood actions, you know that saying “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”. Yup, we have a very stubborn, strong -willed little boy.  Never before has my patience been tested so much (and I was an elementary teacher).

(Forewarning: you will see pictures of a very upset toddler…sorry #notsorry , but that’s real life for me these days. )

Raising a strong -willed child drains so much out of you as a parent. I feel like I’m constantly in a battle with my little one, he fights fiercely for his independence. There is constant redirection throughout the day. When I lay in bed at night I hear my words echo from the day of  “No Johnny we can’t do that. Please come here Johnny. No, that’s not okay. No, No, No, NO,NO. “

Do you see the common trend here? I’m falling into a trap of exasperating the word “NO”. This blog is documenting my motherhood journey, and this is surely one of them. I’ve decided I need to make a change before I develop a really bad habit of always using the word “no”, where it  will soon become a “non-functioning NO” .

(Can you take a guess as to why he was throwing a fit? Well, I had to change his diaper and put his shirt on… Bad mom over here, I know. I’m documenting my journey as a new mom and this is part of it, I can’t always just show the happy & smiling pictures. )

You see, strong-willed children need intentional parenting direction. They need to be instructed on “how to” use these character traits that will soon one day encourage them to become leaders, shapers, and world changers. It all starts with parents navigating them to use their #strongwillpower in a positive way.

BUT as much as they are eager to explore the world, they need boundaries that keep them safe without limiting their eagerness to learn.

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I’m not saying that using the word “no” is horrible, BUT I have been saying it so much lately, where it’s starting to become ineffective. Communication is a little more difficult between Johnny and I because he’s only 13 months old. The tactics I’m trying to use below will help with our communication barrier.

So, I’m challenging myself with limiting my “nos” and turning them more into instruction, redirection, and giving choices. My past classroom behavior management actually is coming in handy here, so I do know a thing or two with managing behavior.  Here’s how I have been practicing it.

Instruct


Instead of just saying “No, don’t do that”, I’m going to focus on telling Johnny exactly what I would like him to do instead. Also, sharing with Johnny the “why” of it is important (even if he’s only 13 months old, starting young will help in the future).  For example:

“Johnny it’s unsafe for you to run towards the street, let’s move over here and play with the chalk instead.”

(He loves to just run off wherever he wants, so we’re really working on this one.)

Redirect


Sometimes this is actually all that it takes. Removing Johnny from something that is very tempting tends to solve the problem. Right now I usually guide him towards a toy or a book and engage in play with Johnny. This way his mind is distracted from the previous tempting activity. Also, a change in scenery/environment always helps.

Give Choices 


When you give a child reasonable choices it gives them a sense of entitlement (which of course we all want), without venturing towards a “power struggle”. We all know strong-willed children like to be independent, so this gives them somewhat of their independent freedom that their screaming for, BUT in a more controlled manner.

For example, I give choices with food, toys, or where to walk to. (Johnny is only 13 months old, so communication is difficult right now.)  I give him two choices to keep it simple and not overbearing.

I’m not perfect with this and I still use the word no, but I’m trying to transition myself into a healthy mixture.

I even have these words written on a piece of paper that I have placed on my fridge as a daily reminder.

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Parenting is hard, especially when you have a strong-willed child. We still have very rough days…BUT with instructing, redirecting, and giving choices, it helps even on the bad days. Along with being consistent and following a daily routine.

While I want Johnny to be happy in life, my overall ultimate goal is to raise a child that we (and others) enjoy being around.

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Resources For You:

The New Strong Willed Child by Dr. James Dobson  (book) 

Dr. James Dobson with Family Talk (podcasts) 

What are some parenting tactics you have used?

Wishing You Well,

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3 thoughts on “My Strong- Willed Toddler

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