Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Advice for a Mommy with a strong willed child

Ok, well this is funny and also super frustrating.....I try not to laugh and try not to get mad all at the same time. I normally don't blog about my parenting problems but in an attempt to make this blog more authentic and really show all the sides of parenting here I go.......

I have hit a wall. After 5 years of preschool teaching and 3 years of being a mommy I have finally hit my wall. I love my sweet spunky daughter so much and she is an incredible little person but she is driving me crazy! She is so strong willed that I don't even know how to discipline her. Let me begin with some background since I did not think that an almost 2 year old could even be this difficult when it comes to her will.

Olivia is 21 months old and is extremely smart. Everyone who knows her, including her pediatrician and international adoption specialist doctor, think that she is at least 6 months older. She speaks with hundreds of words, maybe even thousands, and in full complete sentences. I can tell her to go upstairs and find 3 different objects that are in three different rooms without telling her where anything is and she will come back down with all of them. She understands everything I say and can even hold a great conversation about it. She pretty much operates at almost the same level as her 3 year old brother for the most part.

So we have been battling it out. On Wednesday it started with her hitting Jackson. After a two minute time out (she sits in the same room that we are in but has to face the wall) she needed to say I am sorry to Jackson and say no hitting to me. This happens ALL THE TIME at our house and she knows the drill, say your sorry and say no hitting. Well, she flat out refused. She didn't speak for 3 1/2 hours. After several hours of many different discipline tactics (long time outs, isolation in her crib, some not-so-great yelling, etc.), I just decided to just put her down for her nap. The kid would rather sit at the wall staring for hours than just say I'm sorry. I don't even understand it.

So then at 7:30 that night we were at Half Priced Books and she wanted a book. I of course said no and then I caved and said if she could apologize and say no hitting she could have one. So as we checked out she caved, and promptly said what she needed to along with book please? So yeah, I bribed my kid.

And Parent of The Year goes to..........

So every day since she has been pulling this shenanigan. She has refused to say please, yes ma'am and all sorts of things once each day. I decided not to wait it out. She just gets a consequence and it is over. Yesterday she lost her privilege to wear her minnie mouse necklace and lost reading books before bed. Tonight she lost bath time and she is wearing her jacket to bed. Um yeah, she is refusing to say jacket off please. She will just say jacket off. She normally actually says and we usually require, "May I jacket off please," but I am just going for a please at this point. It's just a zip up hoodie over a t-shirt so she isn't going to get hot or anything.....although maybe getting hot would make her just say please......well who knows?

So I need your advice.....Am I doing this all wrong? She desperately wants to hold the power and I do give her a few choices throughout the day and she is normally a very happy kid. I just don't know where she went. Maybe I need to take away her choices until she can prove to me that she can handle the freedom. I dunno, I am at a loss.

I wrote this a few days ago and I can say that it is getting better.....I have also purchased the strong willed child by James Dobson:) Although getting around to reading it would involve having time to myself:)


  1. Just happened upon your blog this morning from a friend's.
    Sounds like you are doing EVERYTHING right! My first born daughter was exactly the same way...spoke early and well, knew what she wanted, and tried to run the house :) Very trying days BUT there are wonderful outcomes with a child who is strong-willed. The teenage years were actually a breeze with this child because she did know her mind...and by this time her love of the Lord, her momma, and herself wouldn't allow herself to compromise her beliefs. She was not a follower or did she give in to peer pressure. Dr. Dobson's book is great too, try to carve the time out to read it.
    My daughter is now grown with a feisty 19mo. old of her own. I try to remember this quote i saw many years ago "in parenting sometimes the days seem to go by as if years...but the years will fly by as if minutes".
    In my adoption journey one of the bits of advice I was given that I try to hang on to is kind of strange but I the recommend telling yourself and your child what a good momma you are. AND You are.
    ...sometimes I would put myself in timeout too LOL
    Single Momma to two grown homemade children
    one Kazakh princess (7yr)and a Prince waiting in Russia.
    Gigi to two beautiful grand daughters and one more on the way.
    Elementary teacher to hundreds of other kiddos.

  2. Wow DeeDee. Sounds pretty intense. I bet it will continue to be up and down this way with some days about doing you in and others being easy. I think you know what you are doing. The most important thing is to stick to what you say. If you start giving in, the bad behavior will grow. I think you know this - it is just not fun to implement on a day to day basis!!
    So excited about all your big news and to see all that God has in store for your precious family!

  3. I don't know ...but I think that book if we could get it on tape would be great!!! We have one that is exactly like that- a little older. She has a will like I have never seen!!! It drives me batty!!! I love her of course, but there are times- many many many times when I question all of my parenting skills because they don't seem to work with her- at all. My mom looks on the bright side because she has seen her in action while visiting. She said maybe she will need that sheer determination to get through something in her life- like you did :) Thanks mom :)

  4. ok, so she reminds me of my VERY smart child #3...My first gut is that she is getting WAY TOO much attention over the "refusing to say" things stuff...then the "negative" effects like taking stuff away is now outwaying the postive which still leaves her getting all the attention..which "bad" attention is better than 'No' attention (which i know she was getting lots of attention to begin with..but she has realized that she gets MORE by refusing to say what you want her to say..What's the answer: I really don't know :) LOL Ok, so for real...catch her being good and reward her for it EVERY SINGLE LITTLE TIME...like "oh, you walked by brother and smiled at him" Praise her and catch her BEING GOOD even if it was a dumb thing she SHOULD do..Get the attention back focused on the "positive" behavior...that's my 2 cents worth...and believe me...it is about worth 2 cents :) My Hal, who just turned 5, is extrememly smart (the smartest out of my bunch) and is definitly the srongest willed..i think it comes with brains :) kj

  5. i swear, some days with little ones i feel like ALL I DO is the same discipline rounds OVER AND OVER-it is so frustrating, no??? but, then again, i also look at my own heart and feel like sometimes I would rather stare at the wall for 3 hours tham say sorry, too, haha!! it is HARD raising super strong willed kiddos (I know it as I have 2 myself-wow, they are awesome but EXHAUSTING!) but it is WORTH it--they are the ones who can be great warriors for the Gospel if they are given appropriate boundaries for their fiery personalities-don't give up!! Hang in there and talk to Jesus about often it b/c He has LOTS of strong willed children so He gets it :)

  6. I certainly can't pretend to have all the answers, but I do/did have a strong willed child, so I know what you are going through. I remember sitting on the stairs (her time out place)for hours waiting for her to apologize - I was crying, she was crying......awful. I will say this tho - consistency paid off - It took a while, but she came around and has blossomed into a delightful girl (10 now) with leadership skills and a contagious personality. You ARE making a difference - even tho I know it all feels fruitless at the time! Hang in there!

  7. You need to read "The Connected Child," by Karen Purvis. Because of Olivia's background what worked for Jackson most likely won't work for her, so Dr. Purvis's book has intervention strategies for children from hard places.

  8. I agree with Jody. It sounds like she is testing you. Hannah will do that at times too and then all of a sudden she'll snap out of it knowing that I am not going to back down. I really like the strong willed child!

  9. I love what Diane said bc that's how my wonderful step-dad put it to my mom when they were dating. He told her to be thankful bc I would always stand up for myself and no one would ever talk me into anything. Haha! Did I have some rough patches? Yes. Did I make mistakes in life? Well of course! But overall, I am not easily swayed and i've always gone after what I wanted out of life. My husband loves this bc it takes the guess work out. ;) Good luck!!! Oh, I don't know if someone else hit this... But I went thru some very tough days with my mother and it was like knock down, drag out... Both of us agree it was totally worth it!!! She is my closest ally!!! Everything I am and hope to be I owe to my mother!!!! It's the hardest job there is and it means everything!! You're doing a GREAT job DeeDee!!!! Congrats on all you've accomplished, your family, and your newest addition!!

  10. Completely agree w/ Annie's comment. Strong willed or not I would strongly encourage you to read "The Connected Child"! Think you will be really glad you took the time to do it! All kids are obviously so different, but I quit taking advice from all my friends long ago and started trying to figure out how to connect w/ each of mine right where they were.... the need for "battling" decreased significantly. I wouldn't leave any young toddler in time out for a long period of time just to "wait" for them to be "ready" or apologize, etc. That is too long in my opinion & I think you will find some more useful strategies in "The Connected Child" that will not only help you "discipline", but connect and nurture your kids getting to the bottom of the behavior. It is a fantastic book! You are doing an awesome job!! Your kiddos are blessed to have a mom who cares so much. Miss seeing you guys. Call if you want to talk about the book. We are doing a training class on it right now and I am so thankful for the material - huge blessing for our family.

  11. Each of us has a selfish heart. A strong willed child is no different yet needs persistent molding for it to be used for good. I would say if you are going to battle you better win. One time of caving creates a hunger in them for control and pushing the limits. Be firm, be consistent, all the time. By giving in to get the result you wanted you did not train her to be obedient or loving you trained her to give mommy what she wants. A term that really helped us train our boys when they were young was delayed obedience is disobedience. Hope it helps. We all have struggles and none of us is perfect. I encourage you to consider what you want the outcome to be and I believe that will help guide your momentary decisions.

  12. Another fabulous book is "Parenting Your Internationally Adopted Child". I think it's a little more in-depth than "The Connected Child", but that is an excellent book too.

  13. My 3 year old is a firecracker and I just bought The Strong Willed Child. I have no great advice to give as I am in the same boat!