I just read this fantastic article by Dr. Laura Markham called “Parenting Your Strong-Willed Child”. It’s full of great advice for how to make your life a bit easier during these trying years with tiny kids who are strong-willed. Like this little pearl of wisdom:
“Your strong-willed child wants mastery more than anything. Let her take charge of as many of her own activities as possible. Don’t nag at her to brush her teeth; ask “What else do you need to do before we leave?” If she looks blank, tick off the short list: “Every morning we eat, brush teeth, use the toilet, and pack the backpack. I saw you pack your backpack, that’s terrific! Now, what do you still need to do before we leave?” Kids who feel more independent and in charge of themselves will have less need to be oppositional. Not to mention, they take responsibility early.Most parents know that all kids have strong-willed moments, some more than others. I am certain that have a “strong willed” child, through and through. The kid has always known what he wants and has always been willing to fight for it like a Baby Rambo (Ooh! Halloween costume idea!) since he was practically a newborn. Because of this, we let him do a lot more than what many parents would deem acceptable. For example, Oliver started walking early – at 8.5 months – and since then I have had to make great revisions to the safety handbook that most parents subscribe to. My son wanted to walk up the stairs by himself at 11 months. “Oh we don’t let our daughter do that yet” my friend told me while she watched the little dude pull himself eagerly up each step of our porch. Well… I’d love it if I could not “let” my son walk up the steps, but that would mean an epic fight that would probably lead to him popping a blood vessel from screaming so loud. Hey, I’m a stay-at-home-mom and I’ve got to choose my battles (or else I must be allowed to wear one of these at all times).
In the article, Dr. Markam puts it this way: “You don’t have to attend every argument to which you’re invited”. I love the sound of that. It makes me picture opening a gilded envelope and pulling out a letterpress card that reads: “Would you care to join me in the bathroom while I scream at you for not letting me put my own toothpaste on my toothbrush?” I smile and sigh as I reach for my quill, dip it in ink and daintily check the box marked “NO, REGRETFULLY I WILL NOT BE IN ATTENDANCE” Ha!
So that’s what I do, I choose my battles. And rarely do those battles involve whether or not my son can do something that I know is helping him grow in his way. And after reading this insightful article, I better understand that the way the strong willed child learns can be different from other kids. And if I nurture this quality in him, he will likely grow up to be a great teenager, get a full ride to college, law school, and eventually be president!! Right? Right…? Hello…? Some of the advice is for a year or so down the road but I bookmarked this page so that I can read it daily and memorize it!
The photo below is the result of me regretfully declining one of Oliver’s special invitations. He wanted to ride his brand-new scooter nude in front of the whole neighborhood (Maybe he thought it would make him more aerodynamic?)and by golly I let him. He had The. Best. Time. Who am I to stop him?