How To Deal With Strong Willed Kids
Do you feel like yelling doesn’t work, giving lectures doesn’t work, time out doesn’t work, and you child is beginning to run YOU?
This weekend I went straight to our ihelpmoms.com Ask The Experts therapist Marcela to get parenting strategies for handling strong willed kids WITHOUT engaging in the parenting power play.
1. How do you identify your child’s personality needs. Can it differ from child to child?
First, listen. They will tell you. Over and over again.
Second, don’t compare your child to anyone. Not their sibling, not your neighbor, not your friends. Imagine you and your child were newly evolved humans that nobody had ever heard of before. There’s no playbook and you have to write up a new one. Your job is to discover what this new type of human needs to thrive.
That’s what’s really going on.
Third: Believe in them. For real
What does the COO of Facebook Sheryl Sandberg, George Washington, Thomas Edison, Abraham Lincoln, Jane Goodall & Pablo Picasso have in common. They had Mother’s that nurtured their genius and believed they could accomplish anything.
If you can find a way to believe in your child’s strengths and not argue for their limitations, that is the greatest gift you can give them.
2. How do we resist the urge to ‘win’? For example a mom told me by giving my daughter choices I was letting the child win and that it decreased my credibility as an authority. As a therapist helping hundreds of families, what is your perspective on this?
We are raising a thinking human beings! The most successful Lioness first protects her cubs, then teaches them to hunt. We are teaching our kids to make choices. So if you are making all their choices, how will they learn? We are teaching them what it feels like to make choices that feel good and bring desired outcomes vs. the contrast of making choices that feel bad and bring unwanted outcomes.
Today, my son had a tummy ache because he had milk 3 times. Cows milk just doesn’t agree with his dad or myself and him. So I don’t buy it. But he was coming off of a family visit where there was milk and lucky charms left over.
At the end of the day he was uncomfortable and upset that his tummy was hurting. I asked him: what did you have for breakfast: lucky charms and milk. Then he had 2 more servings of milk in the afternoon because we were out celebrating Father’s Day and he snuck in a glass while I wasn’t looking.
Whatever we are told we can’t have, makes us want it more. So not only does milk taste yummy but it also has a forbidden quality to it.
So I told him, this is why neither daddy or I drink milk everyday, because it hurts our tummies too. Then he said: but you do drink it sometimes.
Yes, I love how it tastes, but I don’t like how it makes me feel. So if i have some, I’ll only have a small glass and only one serving. But you know what else I eat instead of milk that doesn’t make me feel sick? Yogurt, cheese & ice cream. And he was super happy That he could eat all those other options.
I want him to learn to listen to his body and know the difference when what he puts in is helping his body or hurting. I can’t do that for him.
My job is to teach him to do it for himself.
Here are some ways we can let them exercise their choice making muscles without loosing your authority.
When packing lunches you could ask them to help pick their snacks. I feel like I’m always getting to know my son because of the conversations that we have. Sometimes if I can I will give him 2 choices and he can pick what I’m packing for lunch. Sometimes I can’t give him that option and I just let him know what he’s going to have for lunch. So he’s also used to not always getting his way but he feels heard by me. If I wasn’t listening I’d still be packing things he didn’t like or eat anymore. You want them to practice making choices on easy stuff that they like so they later learn how to make harder choices.
Another great way to give choices is clothing. Put away clothes that they can’t or shouldn’t be wearing and fill their closet with clothes that they CAN wear and choose on their own!
Play time and activities. LISTEN to what they want to do, instead of trying to instruct them. Give some options and let them choose. You might be surprised what happens when you let them choose and then enjoy the ride of the path of least resistance!
Bath time! Ask them if they want to take a bath now or in 5 minutes. Either way they are getting a bath but you are letting them choose.
We invite you to watch our full video episode on how to handle strong willed kids HERE to pick up THE MOST IMPORTANT TIP! And we will see you every Monday at NOON est for our Ask The Family Experts Show: Making Motherhood Easier!
Give your kids 2 options that you are comfortable with. So it doesn’t matter to you what he or she picks. You just need to be one step ahead.
We want to HEAR FROM YOU! What are some ways you give your kids choices?
On A Mission to Make Motherhood Easier,
Michelle, Founder/CEO ihelpmoms.com
Marcela, ihelpmoms.com Mom Therapist