Do you ever have those days as a mom where you just lose your cool? That never, ever happens to me…cough, cough. The name of of this post is a bit unfair because I’m not sure “difficult child’ is something we should label ANY CHILD. However, I’m using it here because I think it helps you better understand my direction. There are so many word choices when it comes to explaining children’s “difficult” behavior- strong-willed, independent, free, curious, loud, creative, stubborn, decisive, opinionated, and even fearless to name a few.
My brother and I were talking about Henri one day and he told me something a friend of his with a masters in child development told him. It has resonated so deeply with me and I wanted to share with you.
The characteristics that make a child ‘difficult’ are the same characteristics that make a very successful adult.
So go ahead- look at that list again. It’s interesting, right???!?!
As a parent the question becomes, how do we encourage character traits that are DRIVING US BATTY? I don’t know about you all but many days of the week just getting pants on my little man feels like a battle. We need to figure out a way to help these little ones follow instruction without breaking their spirits. We want our children to grow up to be independent and strong-willed adults. So when we see these “hard to deal with” attributes in them we really need to grapple with the frustration and teach them boundaries they may work within.
Feel intangible??? Ok let’s put it into action! Here are two ways to bring out the best in your willful child.
I have my mother in law to thank for this technique-it works WONDERS on my son and provides him the space to THRIVE.
What doesn’t work: “Henri, would you like to put pants on?”
What works: “Henri, would you like to wear this pair of pants or this pair of pants???
Instead of giving your child a yes or no question give them a question they can’t mess up. It give them some power and shows them that you respect their desires and preferences.
A child with a strong opinion needs a valid explanation for most things. Henri has entered this new “hitting stage”. I think we are to blame for it because we started having pillow fights with him and for a 20 month old, what’s the difference between hitting someone with a pillow or with your hand? Everytime he hits anyone I pull him aside and explain to him that hitting hurts people. It makes them sad and we CANNOT hit. I ask him to please apologize and give them a hug. If he hits me I say “Ow!!! That hurts mama!”
At this point I know that Henri hitting me or others is not an act of willful disobedience. Just like I said in my last post about the willful toddler which you can read here, HE’S LEARNING THE RULES.
Do you all have anything to add? How do we help our children to become strong, free-thinking and independent adults?? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.