Saturday, December 14, 2013

Parenting a Strong-Willed Kid

This kid.


Oh man. Don't let the cuteness fool you.


This kid is stubborn.
And strong-willed.
And independent.
And defiant.
And challenging.




But she is also sweet.
And funny.
And smart.
And playful.
And outgoing.
And so very loving.

And, oh yeah, CHALLENGING!  Did I already say that one?

Let me back up and brag for a minute.  Kate was an easy baby.  I mean EASY.  She was one of those kids that you didn't want to necessarily tell your fellow parent friends about, because while their child was waking up 15 times a night, Kate had been sleeping through the night since about 8-9 weeks.  Might I add that this was totally a God thing because I went back to work full-time at 7 weeks, and He must have known I wouldn't have been able to handle getting up a ton.  We got very lucky.  She was a great eater (and still pretty much is).  We never had issues with colic or milk intolerances. She was so laid back as a baby.  Easy, easy, easy.

But she is not an easy toddler.  Not even close.  She presses my buttons.  She tests the limits, and our patience.  She pushes boundaries.  Wait- she doesn't just push against boundaries, she pounds on them with a sledge hammer. She is what we in the south call "a handful", or probably more accurately- "a mess".

We've all heard about the terrible twos.  And then when you have a kid that is either in or nearing that 2-year mark, magically every parent that you know starts telling you "Just you wait- three is worse".  What!? Seriously? And even if that is true, why would you tell me that right now?  I don't need to know that!  I need encouragement. I need to be built up. I need that hope- hope that it is going to get better instead of more difficult.

So here's my advice (for what it's worth).  If you're talking to a mom who is struggling, who is tired, who is so frustrated with dealing with the "terrible twos" - do not mention the "trying threes" or whatever they are called.  Just don't do it.  Tell them it gets better.  Tell them to stay strong.  Tell them to be consistent.  Lie if you have to.

Because we already know that our kids can be difficult.  We know that being a good parent is difficult.
We know all of that already.  The challenges aren't a matter of not loving our kids enough, or not giving them enough time, or enough attention.  It's just a part of them growing up, of learning to make choices and decisions themselves.  Technically, it's a GOOD thing.  It's just not an EASY thing.

So what we need to remember... especially when our kids are in the middle of being stubborn, and strong willed, and defiant, and, and and... we need to remember that our kids are also sweet.
And funny.
And smart.
And playful.
And outgoing.
And loving.

And to make all those challenging times fade away a little bit, sometimes your kid will run at you full-force, throw their arms around you (for no reason at all), look up at you, and say "love you mommy".  And that's pretty awesome.




11 comments:

  1. Hang in there it truly does get better, take it from someone who has and is still parenting a very hard-headed, strong willed one. Sometimes you just have to come to terms with the fact that they are who they are and that's who they are going to be and love them to pieces despite the challenges!!!

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    1. Thank you! We have mostly great days, but do have plenty of days where our little miss has been in time out more than we can count. She is definitely teaching us a lot!

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  2. I love this post and it does get annoying when you hear "Three is worse" or "Wait until you've reached the teenage years" etc. Sometimes when my daughter acts up I get these nasty looks from others that make it seem like her attitude and behavior is my fault. I'm sure you are doing the best you can and these challenges are so normal for every child. You'll get through it. Sounds like Kate is a normal two year old and a precious one at that. Parenthood isn't easy but when you get those unexpected hugs and "I love you" it does make it all worth it. Make sure you always put your foot down and never let her get away with breaking any rules you may have. She's only two and will not understand a lot of what you want from her yet but she will. It sounds like you and your husband are doing a great job but those things you experience with Kate are very normal. Through the years you may be faced with other challenges but I know it will get better and you will see just how much having Kate in your life has been worth it all. Hang in there Mommy. I wish I had better advice for you but I'm still finding what works and doesn't work as a mom of a 6 year old and a 2 year old, both with very different personalities. My daughter is also strong willed and my son has always been easy going.

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    1. Ah - I can't even imagine those teenage years! :) Thanks for the advice!

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  3. It's funny reading this because just tonight at supper a girl was telling how bad her child's "threes" were! I told her not to even tell about it!

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    1. Haha! Oh no! I'm trying to remember NOT to be that parent to friends that have kids younger than mine. :)

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  4. You hit the nail on the head! This is Bennett up one side and down the other. He is ALL of the things you mentioned... however, as you well know, he was not an easy baby. This toddler thing is a LITTLE easier than the baby stage because at least he can communicate! We can do this! :)

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    1. I would love for Bennett and Kate to get together. That would be a REAL handful. They would teach each other all of their "tricks" and we would REALLY be in trouble!

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  5. It does and will get better. The thing about parenting....each "season" is so different....the twos/threes, then the school age, then the preteen, teenager, etc.... I don't think one is harder than another....just all different. But, each one has its unique joys and moments. Treasure them. I am parenting a strong-willed child who is now 13. May God continue to give you strength to enjoy the funny, smart, sweet, kind, adorable times....and to have patience in the "other" times!!!!

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    1. You are SO right! Each season is so different - not better or worse- just different. We are enjoying the two's, even with all of the challenges. This stage is so fun because everything is THE BEST. Christmas time has been so exciting this year.

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  6. Hi Kelley- I found your blog through the Faithful Bloggers site. I'm also an adoptive mom to a strong willed 2 year old so this post caught my eye. I have been really struggling lately because mine is pushing my patience to the limit and I've been feeling really inadequate and questioning my abilities as a mother (especially since we're waiting to adopt baby #2). Anyway, I'm reading "Parenting by The Book" by John Rosemond and it is so so good! If you haven't seen it I'd highly recommend finding it as soon as possible. It's about biblical discipline and parenting and is truly refreshing and eye opening.
    Your daughter is beautiful! I look forward to reading more about your story!
    www.weareexpectingmiracles.blogspot.com

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