Raising a strong-willed child

I gave birth to what most people would describe “a strong-willed child”.  I personally hate this term.  It’s just a nice way of saying that my daughter is out of control.  Sometimes she is, but she’s also only three.  She hasn’t learned how to properly express the emotions that she is feeling.  Most adults I know don’t do too great of a job at this either.

The amount of times that I have gotten irritated looks at restaurants makes me sad.  I get sympathetic glances from other shoppers almost every time we are out.  I see judgement from other moms whose kids are sitting obediently in the shopping cart while mine is running 12 paces in front of me. We get eye rolls as I drag my screaming child from the playground.

Raising a Strong-willed child
Pants from Hearts of Lions Co – Shoes from Beauty and Gents – Top from The Graceful Olive

“You’ve sure got your hands full”

“She must be ready for a nap”

“Honey, do you need some help?”

 

I try my best to make sure that my children know what is and is not socially appropriate.  I know that my job is to raise functioning members of society.  You know how that happens though?  Through learning!  You aren’t just born knowing how to behave.

Raising a Strong-willed little girl
Pants from Hearts of Lions Co – Shoes from Beauty and Gents – Top from The Graceful Olive

My strong-willed child is filled to bursting with life.

She wants to see and touch everything.  She wants to know how things work and why, why, why.  That is okay with me.  Her energy is not a burden on me.  I am sorry that others assume it is.

My strong-willed child has found her voice and is learning how to express herself.

She hasn’t quite learned pitch or volume control yet….but she is working on it.

She is learning what she likes and what excites her.

Today it is dinosaurs and pocketbooks.  She needs them all!  We are teaching her the difference between wants and needs.

My daughter is active.

She thrives on activity.  Being trapped in a shopping cart while we get groceries is torture for her.  Holding hands when we are walking through a parking lot is almost as bad as severing a limb.  One day she will understand why we ride in shopping carts and hold hands to cross the street.  Until it clicks however I will just keep teaching.

My strong-willed child is a fighter.

She knows what she wants and she tries so hard to tell you why she wants it.  Sometimes the only way a three year old can try to reason is with a tantrum.  I’m sorry that its not socially acceptable to kick and scream in the coffee isle at Target but my three year old doesn’t understand that yet.

Raising a confident and well loved strong-willed child
Pants from Hearts of Lions Co – Shoes from Beauty and Gents – Top from The Graceful Olive

Please don’t feel bad for me.  I don’t feel bad for me.  My daughter is my hero.  She needed her big personality to fight a big nasty monster inside her little body when she was just nine months old.  Her personality and spirit are a blessing.

 

Please keep your irritation to yourself.  I imagine those of you who are irritated at my child’s behavior were once three years old yourself and probably weren’t always on your best behavior either.

 

Please do not judge me.  Do not judge my child.  Do not judge her behavior.  I don’t care that she acts differently than your child.  I will not break her little spirit just to avoid judgement from other people.  Would you do that to your child?

 

 

Everyone has reasons behind the ways they behave.  Have you ever considered why children act certain ways?  Have you ever considered that maybe there were things in my child’s life that make sitting still seem like torture, or being quite seem like the end of the world?

Have you ever considered that maybe I am NOT a bad mom?  Maybe I am actually pretty good one.  I am letting her learn and explore and grow at her own pace.  I am not forcing adult behaviors on her at age three.  I am letting her be a child.

Yes, some days I pray for naptime to get here sooner.  Yes, some days I use the Wal-Mart grocery pickup because its far easier than going into the store.  Yes, some days I wake up still exhausted from the day before.  But these are NORMAL parenting things.  These are not a result of having a “strong-willed” child.

Raising a strong-willed girl
Pants from Hearts of Lions Co – Shoes from Beauty and Gents – Top from The Graceful Olive

When I describe my daughter I like to use all the positive words that go along with her big personality.

She is brave and strong.  She’s imaginative and creative.  She loves big and she hurts big.  She’s opinionated and assertive.

What she is not is a bad child.

There are so many bigger things going on in life than having to stress over someone else’s perception of my parenting abilities or my daughters behavior.

Do you ever feel this way?  Like everyone else thinks you are getting it wrong but you KNOW you are getting it right?  Mama, do not let anyone make you question yourself or your abilities.  You were blessed with whatever temperament your child has because God knew you could handle it.  That child and his or her personality was picked for YOU.

Let your child be who they were meant to be. Who cares what everyone else thinks?

 

 

 

Comments

  1. My girls to a T! It’s so frustrating when you do get those stares and glances. What they don’t realize is that maybe it’s not just that they are the most excellent parents, but that their child just has a mild temperament. Now there is nothing wrong with a chill kid who just sits and is always cool with whatever is going on, but the spirit and energy of my daughter’s is amazing. I wouldn’t change it for a thing. They are energetic, funny, smart, and just downright awesome to be around. All that energy has to go somewhere and through love and patience, us Mommas are raising go getters and nothing much will be able to stop them! You are a good Momma and you’re not alone! Loved reading your thoughts.

    • I remember the first time I realized that my child didn’t behave like other children. We were visiting a cousin who lives out of state and Little E was just running circles around her house (totally normal for me) and my cousin looked at me and asked if she was like that all the time. I responded, “yes of course, isn’t yours?” and her response was wide eyes and frantic shaking of her head.

  2. I have one of those too! There are so many good things about that type of personality but, there are definitely ways I have to guide him to obedience as well!

    • Oh yes! With my daughter you have to get on her level, make eye and physical contact and ask her to listen with her ears. Shes just got so much going on in her little brain!!

  3. My middle child is five and this describes him perfectly. I do feel judged and cannot stand when people make comments to me. My mom told me I was a strong willed child as well and that is wonderful. My personality has turned into one of motivation, determination, efficiency, knowledge, patience with others, acceptance, and so much love. I imagine my child and yours will grow up with these awesome qualities as well. It would be nice if people would keep their comments to themselves, but I don’t anticipate that every changing, but when I see another mom walking through Target with a wild animal in tow I just smile and hope she knows she is not alone!

    • Those are all big personality traits and yes, I am positive my daughter will have all of them! She does everything big so I cant imagine her grown up emotions wont be big as well!

  4. Love this article. She sounds like she is going to be the CEO of a company some day. The best part is when they learn to channel all of that inner energy to do something good later in life. You’re an awesome mama and she is adorable!

    • Its so fun to see the things she is interested in! Like she loves to dance, is really into dinosaurs, accessories and playing doctor right now. I cant wait to see which of her grown up interests she follows!

  5. YES GIRL! This is my son. He is 6.5 and it’s still difficult bringing him to the store. It’s just who he is. And no… I won’t break his spirit either. Some days it’s absolutely exhausting, but I wouldn’t ever change him. And I just moved from Sarasota FL 8 months ago! Where do you live?!

    • My family always thinks its a good idea to take the kids out to eat and my husband and I strongly urge the group to eat at someone’s house instead lol. I’m praying age will help at least a little bit!! We live in Lakeland but we have family in Bradenton!

  6. This is 100% true!! I always say that my daughter is strong-willed but to me that means that she is SOLID in who she is! I mean, she’s only 2, but she is solid in what she likes and doesn’t like and who she can be. She is loved and supported and given the opportunity of choice!

    She’s strong-willed and a stage-5 clinger, so there are MANY days that I pray for naptimes, but her wonder and her drive are the things I admire most about her. Even if it means my eyes are rolling back in my head because I just need to take e a nap but she’s intent on learning this new thing.

    • Little E was a stage-5 clinger for a long time too but she has become quite independent in the last year or so. I also have a 16 month old who I am about 98% is also going to be “strong-willed” and she is for sure a total clinger!! I used to pray for naptimes so I could get some work done but now I pray for naptime because mama needs a nap too!!!

  7. I absolutely love your honesty! As a parent, it’s so hard to discipline and teach our children while still nurturing their unique personalities. My daughter went through this phase too, but as she grows up and understand now, I can now have conversations with her so there’s less tantrums. I agree with your tips and sometimes we just have to not be bothered by stares and judgment!

    Mae | http//www.thegospelofbeauty.org

    • I can for sure see that the conversations and understanding are changing as she gets older which is nice!

  8. I love your positive attitude! 🙂 It’s important for our kids to be loved and understood by their parents! Your daughter will use her strengths to make a BIG difference in the world.

    • I think so!! I will love her no matter what but I want her to also know that I “get” her too.

    • So true! Loved your latest post on ways to raise happy kids! This line “When we set limits, or rules, for our children we are teaching them self-control and establishing socially acceptable behavior.” was probably my favorite part. I think lots of parents today forget that they are supposed to be raising functional members of society and discipline is part of the equation.

  9. I loved this post. I also have a ‘strong willed’ 2 yr old daughter. The person who judgemes me most, is Sr. He swears by earlier forms of discipline and says it’s the only way. How do you ladies discipline and guide your children?

    • I could yell and pop her bottom all day but would literally do nothing. No matter where we are or what we are doing I try to stop, get down on her level, physically touch her and make her look in my eyes. She has to be slowed down and grounded before she can process what I am saying. She also really hates being sent to her room. She has a time out stool in our general living area but if its a serious offence she has to spend time (like 5 min) in her room by herself.

  10. This article literally speaks to my soul. I have not one, but three children that fit this mold. I can’t count the times that I’ve actually left a cart full of groceries in the store and went back later because my youngest could not stand to be in the store one more second (and I couldn’t stand the looks of the other customers for much longer either).

    But my kids are learning, they are learning their boundaries as well as others. It’s just a fine line of teaching these things, while keeping their little spirits in tact.

    • I remember my mom having to drag both my brothers from a store numerous times growing up. Mine aren’t at the age yet where they feed off of each other but I know once they are that things will get way worse in social situations!!

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