Have you ever told a story about one of your children and, while talking, you feel like the only one in the room who knows what it’s like to raise this type of strong-willed child?
People look at you with perplexed looks. You’re left standing there feeling like the only one in history to struggle through parenting.
Your kid never throws themselves on the sidewalk as if their limbs no longer can support their body weight, all the while screaming like you’re hurting them. Yeah, mine has never done that either. [Insert sarcasm.]
Sometimes it’s easy to look around at the other moms running this race with us and think that it just comes easy to them. They seem to enjoy every single moment—even the hard, smelly moments. They enjoy it so much so that they continue to have more children which can easily make me feel like I’m really not cut out for this since I can barely handle—and enjoy—the two I have.
My first child out the gate has wreaked havoc on me since the womb—emotionally, mentally, spiritually, physically. And, while I recognize that being strong and determined are fantastic characteristics for an adult, it certainly doesn’t make it easy to parent them as a child.
I don’t think anyone can really be prepared for what is in store when they first read the results of a positive pregnancy test. I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
Strong-Willed from the Start
My girl was determined even from the beginning. I just knew she would be the first child in history to remain in the womb forever. After a week past her due date, we scheduled an induction. However, the hospital canceled it because there were no rooms available. I’m pretty sure she paid off the hospital staff.
When we finally made it to the hospital, the delivery ended up in an emergency c-section because they discovered she was breech. She refused to turn the right way. Determination.
And, when the doctor pulled her from the womb, my daughter was literally chewing on the umbilical cord cutting off the very life support that I gave her. Some things haven’t changed.
As an infant, she screamed like a pterodactyl for hours and weeks, unable to be content. It was like something was in her driving her to push for something better, something more.
She refused a bottle for months and then when she made up her mind about what she wanted. She refused me. Her path, her way, her time.
Potty training was an absolute nightmare. I was scared for life. I just knew she would be the one kid in history to go to middle school in diapers. She had no problem sitting in poop as a 5-year-old. No offense, but I wanted to punch those people who posted on Facebook that their kids were potty trained in one day with a simple reward of a sticker.
And then there are the fights. Tantrums. Meltdowns. I have laid on my closet floor in the fetal position crying more times than I can count questioning why in the world God would choose me to be a mother.
4 Ways for Surviving the Strong-Willed Child
She has made me question everything—myself, my faith, my heart. There are days where I know I’m not cut out for this. This girl, full of passion and glory, is determined and strong-willed. She wants it her way, and she will fight me to the finish.
And as hard as she is, she is good. She is glorious. She is kind and full of compassion. She is my biggest amplifier. It is easy for me to see the qualities in her that are of me. She amplifies my negative qualities and positive qualities. What I am in part, she is in full. If I have emotionally crazy in me, she amplifies that on a greater scale. However, if I have an ounce of compassion in me, she has gallons in her.
I’m not writing this post with answers. I’m writing so that you know you aren’t alone. I am currently right there with you. I have not crossed the finish line.
Maybe you’re just as weary as I am, so I wanted to give you a couple of insights that I’ve learned in the trenches of how to survive a strong-willed child.
1. Remember the Good
I’ve learned that you have to remember the good. It’s so hard to remember or even notice the good when you are dodging bullets. Most days I am worn out. I’m tired of repeating the same thing over and over.
It’s easy to not notice the good. It’s easy to miss the times that she is kind to complete strangers. She wants to know who they are and their story and the stranger always walks away feeling noticed. What a good quality to care for people in such a way.
2. Say Yes Sometimes
I have to remind myself to say yes sometimes. My girl hears no so much on a daily basis.
I have to remember to say yes to building a fort. Yes to letting her play with every single toy she owns even if it means I have to help her clean up. Yes to having a dance party with her while cooking dinner. Yes to crafting with her even though there isn’t a craft bone in my body.
3. It’s Not About Winning
Surviving is remembering that it’s not about winning. My strong-willed girl loves to fight. She wants me to engage. She is full of drama. The times where I know I’ve crossed a line and reacted and disciplined in anger have been when I wanted to win. I wanted to be the last word. I was wounded.
In those intense moments, it’s hard to not take it personally. She has hurled words at me that break my bones. Sometimes it feels like I’m fighting with a teenager and not a six-year-old. I have to resist the temptation to fight back. I want to defend myself, my rights, my position.
She feels the full range of emotions. She will fight with all her might and then in an instant, she’s over it. She goes back to the happy girl who laughs and loves all the while I’m slain on the bedroom floor disrespected, hurt, and not ready to forgive. It’s not about winning especially at the expense of losing the relationship.
4. Love the Way They Feel Loved
And finally, love them the way they feel loved. My girl’s love tank is filled by time and attention. She’s not a snuggler. We laugh that you will be injured by her if you try to get physical affection from her. It just doesn’t come naturally to her.
Let me just say that quality time with little people is not my jam. Playing barbies or pretend play puts me to sleep. Seriously boring, but that is exactly what fills up her little heart. The times that I have pushed aside my selfishness and got on the floor to give her 20 minutes of undivided attention, she glows. It’s as if I can see her feeling loved. Sometimes all they need is whatever fills up their love tank.
I am clearly no expert on parenting, but I do know how to recognize my own mistakes and attempt to learn from them. I know this girl is going to do great things … as long as we don’t kill each other in the process.
What about you? Do you have a strong-willed kid? What have you learned to help us survive?
Welcome to Ungrind!
Do you want to be inspired, motivated, and equipped to live the everyday story of your life well?
If so, you’re in the right place. Whether you need encouragement in your relationships or in your faith, I hope you’ll find the transparent voices of mentors and friends here at Ungrind.
So, grab a cup of coffee and keep reading. We're so glad you're here!
Ashleigh Slater, Founder & Managing Editor
Get Our Free Ebook!
How the Psalms Speak to Our Emotions
The Psalms is a book that's rich with the reality of what life's like in this fallen world. Here are...
3 Ways to Navigate Personality Differences
Sometimes personality differences can wear on us. Here are three ways we can navigate them in a loving manner.
Surprised By ‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’
If you haven't seen this film, God may speak to your heart through it in ways you weren't expecting.
The Wedding Ring
Are you struggling in your marriage? Here's how a wedding ring helped one wife fight for her marriage.
5 Ways to Live an Out-of-Control Life
Here are 5 ways to let go of control and trust your present and your future to God.
5 Creative Places to Find Prayer Accountability
Do you want to pray more, but are easily distracted? Here are some practical ways to stay focused.
How to Rescue a Day Gone Wrong in Your Marriage
Just because a day doesn't start well, doesn't mean you can't rescue it.
What Women Are Saying
-- Renee Fisher, author of Forgiving Others, Forgiving Me
"Real life is not always pleasant. Every marriage experiences disappointments, misunderstandings, sickness and financial crisis. Ashleigh doesn’t camouflage the pain in her own marriage, and offers practical ideas on how to walk through the difficulties and find intimacy on the journey. If you are anything like me, I predict that as you read, you too will find yourself laughing, wiping tears, and saying 'Oh, yes.'"
-- Gary Chapman, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The 5 Love Languages
We are a member of the Amazon affiliate program and regularly use affiliate links. If you purchase an item from an Amazon link we provide, we will receive a small referral commission. This doesn’t cost you anything additional. We only share books, music, and products that our writers personally have used and highly recommend.
Faith4 years ago
When Doing Justly, Loving Mercy, and Walking Humbly Stand at Odds
Faith5 years ago
7 Ways to Create A Family Altar
Friendship6 years ago
Beyond the Registry: The Ultimate Gift Guide for Expectant Parents
Relationships4 months ago
5 Ways to Teach Your Child to Hear God
Marriage6 years ago
4 Reasons I’m Not Facebook Friends With My Husband
Everyday Faith5 years ago
6 Simple Ways to Give Thanks in the Thick of It
Articles5 years ago
10 Ways Life is Like a Box of Chocolates
Articles7 years ago
How to Lift Up the One You Love
Articles5 years ago
Relationships9 months ago
Facing Our Motherhood Fears
Digging Into Scripture3 weeks ago
How the Psalms Speak to Our Emotions
Articles8 years ago
June Cleaver Syndrome