Mom of strong willed child looking for HELP!

Brianne - posted on 08/10/2012 ( 14 moms have responded )

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Mom's of strong willed children, does it really get better? My 3 1/2 year old daughter is really pushing it here. I have read books and recently started to talk to a family counselor for help. I am feeling like we are at a peak right now but the frustration level in the house is truly disrupting a great thing we once had. I'm also concerned for my 4 1/2 year old because she is starting to act out and I don't want my sweet, compliant little girl corrupted. How have you dealt with your strong willed child and kept the peace between other family members?

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Cherish - posted on 08/10/2012

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Hi,

There could be a underlying cause for her behaviors,Have you seen a developmental pediatrician?

Have you read "The explosive child"?That book was very helpful for me

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Debbie - posted on 09/10/2012

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I have found a great little program that really makes a difference. It is called, The Happy Face Token system. There is a book called: From Combat Zone to Love at Home. That says it all! I had a strong willed daughter that I just couldn't connect with. When we started this program within two weeks, she put her arms around me and thanked me for the happy faces! We used it for many years to come because the consistency factor is built into the program as a blessing from God and highly adaptable for individual needs of every child. There is a web page that shows a good portion of the book with charts and audio. Maybe it will help with your concerns.

http://foxholeparenting.com

Maggie - posted on 08/13/2012

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Thanks for the examples. They really help me to know what is going on. Yes, I had multiple children that would have been considered strong willed. I also had kids cry in front of candy displays, along with meltdowns in grocery stores, in banks, in church...everywhere. It sounds like you are handling the situation just fine. Exhausting as it is, this stage will end. She is only 3 and acting just like a 3 year old should. She has no idea that sugar treats are not the best thing for breakfast. (Although I may try the popsicle for breakfast for myself) She will eventually learn...I promise. I would not rush to label it a disorder quite yet. The key to her quick recovery is your reaction. Which it sounds like you have under control. If you are not yelling, demeaning or someway damaging your child when she throws a tantrum you are doing fantastic! Let her meltdown and hug her afterwards. Slowly the tantrums will become less extreme and she will eventually 'get it' and understand the 'one treat' concept.

You also may want to put more emphasis on her good behavior. When she is nice, compliment her. When she does something good, hug her. And try your hardest to laugh during the bad times. I wish I had written down the number of times I was embarrassed by my children's behavior in public, but you soon get used to it. Most of us older moms who have been through this stage are not looking at you to cause shame, but to give you a smile and support. We have been there.

One other tip: If your child is having too many bad days, try to spend some alone time with her and do something she loves to do. It just improves the relationship and makes for a happier child.

I know these solutions may sound too simple, but they do work. Good luck!

Cherish - posted on 08/13/2012

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I totally know how you feel...
She may stop having a tantrum sooner for the sitter faster than you b/c she is probably more comfortable with you,and I bet the sitter is down playing the tantrum.
My oldest is 19 and was,and still is a strong willed child(now a "adult")
From what you have said to me,it sounds like a sensory issue.My son had underlying sensory issues we did not know about.Sensory issues do not excuse the behavior but there are things you do to minimize the behaviors.
And yes,it will get better,my son was,at times very hard to manage,at home and school.But after he was 14 or so,he did chill out
Here is info on sensory problems and how they affect behaviors:
http://www.sheknows.com/parenting/articl...

I honestly think the books "the explosive child" and "the out of sync child" would be helpful

Brianne - posted on 08/13/2012

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I understand what you are saying and I do my best to please every person in my family and give them what they need. As a mother you know that can be a challenge. A few things I have learned from books and talking to professionals are 1) do not let your emotions get in the way. This can be very difficult and it is something we are working on as parents. 2) When in a battle of the wills the parents needs to "win" so the child is reminded they are the child. Meaning if I put her in a time out she needs to stay there the given amount of time and I have to keep putting her there until she complies. Another example (which is a daily battle) when I say no to a popsicle at 9AM I have to stand my guard and not give in even though I am so sick of the screaming after 45 min. She will not stop until I give in! That is how a strong willed child works. If she wants a pen and I say no because she has drawn all over her sister and my furniture I try to redirect her toward another writing utensil that doesn't destroy things and I do remind her of what has happened in the past, she doesn't care, she wants what she wants and I have to stand my ground. 3) Always praise them for the good they have done so they MAY do more good. I do this obviously because it is so pleasing to know there is still a sweet and good little girl in there.

I have been told my many that watch my kids, you are doing something right. She doesn't throw as many tantrums and is more compliant with others. I know that is a normal thing but the second I show my face she is back to her strong willed self again. EX: she asks the sitter for a popsicle at 9AM and the sitter says no, she may cry for 2 min. She asks me for a popsicle at 9AM and I say no it's a full out tantrum complete with laying on the floor.

The other day we were grocery shopping and I let her get a big bag of animal crackers and I explained to her that the crackers were the last thing she could pick out because they were not on the list. She said ok, then we go to the cereal isle and she got her favorite cereal and then we got to the pop tarts...I walked right past the pop tarts and continued to the next isle. She asked if she could have them and I said no because you picked out the crackers, unless you want to put the crackers back. That was not good enough for her. She laid on the floor and threw a fit. I finally got her to the next isle and thought I was in the clear, not so much. She then started the tantrum back up and I decided to leave the store. As I told my kids were are going to leave and come back another time my oldest freaked because she though I was leaving them both and our groceries, then as I started to walk they both flew off the handle pushing their carts of groceries. I got down to their level and explained we are leaving the groceries and coming back another day, still children are crying. I had to call my mom to come and get them before I totally broke down in tears. While the tantrums are going everyone is looking, of course, including the ladies in the floral dept. which we are right by. After we had left and my mom took the kids I mustard up the strength to go back into the store, I talked to the ladies in the floral dept. and the one thing they said that made an impact was you got down to their level and we even saw you smiling and laughing. Sometimes you have to laugh instead of cry I said and that was one moments I actually felt like I'm doing something right even in such a horrible situation.

Have you ever dealt long term with a strong will child?

Maggie - posted on 08/12/2012

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HI Brianne.
Can you give me some specific examples? I probably need examples to give you the best answer. Understanding behavior is key to parenting. The behavior of your child is an exhibition of a need that requires fulfillment. When a child shows some type of bad behavior, usually the parents reaction is anger. Anger only escalates the behavior. Instead of using anger on your child the next time you observe an undesirable behavior, stop and dissect what is happening. Then you can figure out the best solution. Feel free to contact me directly with a specific behavior and I can give you a more precise explanation of how you can handle the situation so she stops disrupting your home. I think you will be surprised with how quickly her behavior will improve with the correct solution to her problem. I do parenting workshops nationwide and teach parents. You can go to my webpage or email me direct. (www.parentfix.com or stevensgm@comcast.net) I also have a parenting book I would gladly send you for free if you are interested.

But without specifics my answer would be this comes down to communication. Talk with her. Tell her how her behavior is affecting the rest of the family. It is O.K. to remind her that you are the mother and can handle this situation. So often as parents we expect our child to know how to act. We think we need to control them and make them behave perfectly. Your daughter is in the process of learning what types of behavior are appropriate. If your response to her is soft, and given with love, it will tone down the frustration in your home.

I differ strongly from the theory that you "train a child". Children are not dogs. Children respond to love and gentleness. I parented for over 30 years and had great success with this type of parenting. My children are now happy, successful adults. I don't say that to brag. My life's work is to help parents have success. I watched too many children rebel as the result of overly strict parents. Please do not use those authoritative methods. Parent think those methods work because they stop bad behavior immediately. But, I promise, they will pay for that later down the road in some form of rebellion...drug abuse, binge drinking, eating disorders, trouble with the law. Its not worth the pain it brings. If you put the effort into positive parenting, you will have so much success!

Nancy - posted on 08/11/2012

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You are the mom and they are the children! We train them, not them us. Routines have help also on a daily level. Bed time is this, brush your teeth now or before this, that kinda of thing. Order and discipline.

If the younger one gets away with it then I should also, right?! I have to take my emotions out of it and do not overreact. (easier said than done for me) Hold the line with them every time on NO. Once I give in then they use it to get by every time. I have to have clear cut do's and don'ts about certain things around the house and some just in general.

I did not do that so much so I am having to work harder. Also quite time (down time) at least once a day. That helps stop my child from trying to get his way. Distractions, distractions! And back up from my husband has been a God sent. We have to stay on the same page all the time. Hang in there!

Brianne - posted on 08/11/2012

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All others, thank you for the suggestions and I am meeting a family counselor that has 26 years of family and child counseling experience. In our last meeting we did discuss serotonin levels but my kids graze most of the day so I feel that's not the issue. I'm not one to check labels as I'm at the store because it takes more time that I can afford to spend but in comparison to other children they are fairly healthy eaters. Both my girls are very active, almost 40lbs and the size of 5 1/2-6 year olds, not sure what to change there. lol

As for my husband and I, yes we are strong willed but my parents have actually never experienced a child like my daughter. As a child I was actually more like my oldest, a people pleaser, compliant, independent, loving, I never wanted to do wrong and I would even rat myself out if I lied. My husband is a whole other story. lol It's gotten to the point though, that my mom can't give me advice anymore, we are all navigating a new world here.

Brianne - posted on 08/11/2012

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@Maggie, how do I say yes more and let me youngest be the "leader" and herself with out feeling like I am giving in and have lost control? I struggle with that daily and I feel I am constantly "picking my battles" I agree with you that I should not work to "change" her because she is who she is and being strong willed is part of her personality and not a developmental issue or behavioral issue. I admit her behavior is unacceptable at times but I know part is her "playing" with my emotions and seeing how far she can go and the other part is her being her and challenging the command. How do I still feel like I'm the mom and I'm in control.

Also, won't my oldest see I am "giving into" the youngest and start to act like that too? In a child's eyes I wouldn't blame her. lol

Maggie - posted on 08/11/2012

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Be grateful for strong willed children! It is the strong willed teen daughter who has the courage to tell a teen boy no. The strong willed boy makes good decisions and doesn't let friends sway him. My advice is: Don't try to change your child. Love your children for who they are and learn how to direct them...not control them. To get the frustration out of your home, you will need to change, not your child. As a mother you should be saying yes more than no. You should be spending more of your time encouraging, not thinking up ways to discipline your child. Your daughter wants to be a leader, so let her lead. Find activities she can be in charge of. When she crosses a line, gently remind her you are the mother. If she dominates other children, chat with her about how no one likes to around someone who is bossy. What you are doing is teaching your child correct ways to live her life and then allowing her to govern herself. When ever you try to change your child, you will not be successful. (I know, because I raised 5 children) That is why you are feeling frustration. Good luck and have fun with your parenting.

Lesley - posted on 08/11/2012

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I agree with Cherish here. you need to see a paediatrician and also look at your childs diet. My son (who will be 11 next week) was ever such a handful as a toddler and it wasnt until I adjusted his diet (cut out as many additives as possible) that he calmed right down and became more compliant. Good luck and dont give up hope you seem like a really strong person and a very good mum.

Cherish - posted on 08/11/2012

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@Brianne-lol,you said you and your husband are both strong willed?My mom used to say "I hope you have a child like you"...boy did I,and at times he is a million times harder!I guess that is what we get for tormenting our parents :)
Now my mom tells me "He is his mothers son"...lol

Deborah - posted on 08/11/2012

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Yes, be sure to look at diet first!! I had a little girl in my class that when her sugar level would get low, she would get super angry and defiant. Give her a little snack and some juice and she was a happy camper again. I am not saying it is always that easy, but diet can really make a difference in kid behavior.

Also, consider looking at the information from Becky Bailey: http://consciousdiscipline.com/about/con...

Brianne - posted on 08/10/2012

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I have not, although I have often wondered about diet and if there was an underlying issue. Her dad and I are strong willed to a point but this kid is over the top!! She is very smart and I've learned from the books I've read she is playing me like a fiddle. lol She is right on track with her methods also, according to the books. Thank you for the tip and I will look into that book.

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