Dealing With Willful Children
By Lily Morgan
There are all types of personalities in children, and no child has the same temperament as the next. Some mothers have children that are calm, placid and easygoing, while others have little ones who displace more air and create more turbulence than a hurricane blasting through the home. Dealing with willful children isn’t always easy. Finding tricks to help cope with headstrong kids can be a challenge, but here are some tips to try out for calmer weather:
Learn to say no – and mean it
This may be the most difficult learning curve, but teaching yourself to say no to your kids is important to peace of mind. Headstrong children can wear parents down easily, and sometimes it may feel easier to just give up and give in than hold your ground. But staying firm on your decision is a must to help provide boundaries for willful kids that they will respect. Be smart, though, and follow our next hint – picking your battles.
Save energy for bigger battles
Since managing a child that has plenty of strength of character can be tiring, save your energy for the important things and let smaller issues go. It isn’t a big deal if your child doesn’t want to wear the clothes you’ve chosen; let him or her select the daily clothing, even if it doesn’t match. It is a big deal, however, if your child decides that he or she wants to use sharp scissors or wants to run into the street instead of holding your hand at intersections. In those cases, hold your ground: no means no.
Find big places with open spaces.
Most of the time, headstrong kids have more than enough energy to spare. They can run you into the ground as you spend your days trying to control and outsmart them. In fact, most kids with strong temperaments are continually chafing at the bonds parents restrict them with – they hear “no” a lot. Find places, like big parks, where your children can run free and expend some of that pent-up frustration. By letting them run, play and shout with glee at will, they’ll be more compliant when it will be time to listen and behave.
Give two choices, but no more
Since being controlled, ordered around and told what to do is something that strong-minded children can’t stand (and are often subjected to), allowing them choice can ease the arguments. They can choose which snack they want, which clothing they prefer, which toy they like, and they’ll be happy to be permitted the option of having the decision. Never offer more than two choices, though to avoid option paralysis, or too many choices to decide. It’s this or that, and that’s all.
Take the money and run
For some reason, the most common place for kids to misbehave, demand items or melt down into tantrums is stores. Many parents shopping with a willful child are used to going about their business with a screaming, crying child. After all, the shopping needs to get done. A better idea is to drop everything at the first sign of bad behavior and leave the store. Children quickly learn that stores are places where good behavior is a must or they’ll never set foot in one again. Don’t worry about leaving half-filled baskets behind, either; clerks will put the items away. If you feel bad about the situation, apologize to store clerks on the way out and let them know where you left the basket. You won’t have to explain why, with a child loudly protesting a trip to the store cut short.
In the end, sometimes it’s all about doing what works for you and your family. There is no perfect solution, as all hints, suggestions and advice are designed for general help and never for specific individuals or situations. Do the best you can, take a deep breath when you need to and smile even when you feel like shouting. If anything, tell yourself (repeatedly) that your child will grow up and out of the behavior – and will have some excellent leadership qualities for kindergarten, too!
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