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Raise your hand if you are a mama to a strong-willed child. Some days can be a real struggle and completely exhausting, but then other days I realize what a difference my little leader is going to make in this world. And if you have a strong-willed child, you just know it. You set limits, they push boundaries. They challenge you in literally every thing you do. But don’t let that put you off. They have some pretty amazing qualities too, like an undeniable independence, a strong determination, passion and enthusiasm, just to name a few.
So what do you do when you feel like you are running head-first into a brick wall? (a little dramatic, but some days that is actually putting it lightly)
• Learn your triggers. Is it the constant talking when you need 5 minutes of silence, or maybe you asking how their day went the moment you see them is a stressor. Everyone reacts to situations differently, and I’m willing to bet that the reason you are butting heads in the first place is because you are very much alike.
Some possible triggers to consider – noise, pace (my son goes nuts when we tell him we are setting a timer for him to complete a task), change of routine, being ignored, chaos, etc.
• Find a way to reconnect. Everyone wants to feel loved and appreciated, and to know they provide value to your life, so taking time to do that can help you to reconnect with your child. When your child has something to say, listen. Put down your phone and make eye contact. Notice the good things they do and tell them you are proud. Connecting with your kids will create a more peaceful environment.
• Spend time apart. Sometimes, you just need a break. Have your partner or spouse take them on an errand so you both can get some fresh air, go for a walk to clear your mind or find a quiet space in your home where your kids know not to interrupt. P.S. I’m still working on finding that space in my home. The kids can find me WHEREVER I go, no matter what time of day. However, I can usually ask for just a few minutes, and they’ll typically honor that (lucky me, right!?). I also try to plan a sleepover with the grandparents once per month…for the kids, not me.
• Find humor in the situation. This is hard to do when your blood is boiling and smoke is shooting from your ears. Sounds dramatic, but when you are dealing with a strong-willed child every single day, it is trying and tough. I am also someone who does not easily get over conflict (although I am working on that!). Sometimes kids just don’t get it. Hell, we could say that about adults too. Humor is a simple stress reliever in even the most tense situations. You always feel better after a good laugh, and laughing together with your child is even better! When your child feels more comfortable around you, they are likely to open up more. Let them see your playful side.
•Play. Send them outside to run, jump or climb. There is a LOT of energy to exert and that can help calm most situations. Think about it – if your child is school-aged, they get a very small recess. I’m talking 30 minutes small. DUH our kids have a ton of energy when they get home. They have been forced to sit still for almost 6 hours, and not to mention be quiet. That does not mix well with a strong-willed child. Period. Instead of homework right when you walk in the door, allow your child 15-20 minutes to blow off some steam.
Have a strong-willed child? Tell me about them! I bet they are awesome – make sure you tell them that!
P.S. here are some parenting resources you may find helpful…