We talk a lot about the strong-willed child today. Immediately, my hand goes up…Oh yeah, I’ve got one of those!!
But what about being a strong-willed parent?
Well, it just so happens that I have to raise my hand for that, too. Call it what you want: Stubborn, determined, Type A…
Regardless of the label we slap on it, when you have these personality traits, it can make working with others a challenge. Especially when those “others” are our kids.
Am I right?
Due to the facts that I have a strong-willed child and that I am a strong-willed parent, there can, on occasion, be some pretty nasty power struggles. And by “on occasion,” I mean that in the past, I’ve fought this battle multiple times a week.
Have you been there?
Today I want to talk about what happens when we get caught up in those fights. I’m talking about the times when we lose our s*** over something that isn’t that big of a deal…Sadly, that isn’t the only thing we lose. We also forego any possibility of having a teachable moment.
Respect and obedience are high on the list of things that I require of my kids. But, I’m not going to lie, there have been times when I have gotten so focused on requiring these of them, that I have failed to show any respect in return.
It is extremely easy to forget that:
Yep, sometimes my drive to be right and “win” causes things to escalate to a place that could’ve easily been avoided.
Here is an example: One of my little loves does something to break the rules. Let’s call this “Infraction A.” Infraction A falls low on the scale of severity; let’s say it’s a Level 2. But before I know it, things have escalated out of control, we’re fighting for power and my reaction cranks up to a Level 11!
There is yelling. There are tears. There are fits in the floor… and that’s just my part, lol! 🙂
But seriously, if you are reading this and thinking it sounds too familiar, then congratulations! You, too, are probably a strong-willed parent.
If that’s the case, I don’t have to tell you that we may “win” the argument, but that it does not feel like a victory. In fact, often, it is more akin to the feeling of being the worst parent ever.
Gosh, it gives me heartburn just to write about it. I’ve been there a lot. Ugh…
Now that I have you feeling sick right along with me, I have some good news for you (drum roll, please):
All hope is not lost.
What if I told you that there is a way for you to not only get the respect you desire but also to keep from going to the “place which shall not be named.”
Well, take heart, because today I want to share the magic formula with you. Taking these steps has definitely helped me to reduce the frequency of power struggles with my strong-willed one, and I’m sure it will help you, too.
Shh…don’t tell them that we have figured this out. It will be our secret. 🙂
Disclaimer: This will not keep your kid from being strong-willed. Sorry, if you have one, then it is time to realize that there is no way out. We must now accept that it is our job to funnel their strong spirits into the mold of “world changer” instead of “gang leader.”
Just repeat this mantra with me…One day they will change the world. One day they will change the world. One day they will change the world. 🙂
Anyway, the next time you feel that familiar fight coming on, try to remember these.
Here are My 3 Secrets to Instantly Diffuse Virtually Any Power Struggle with Your Strong-Willed Kids:
1. Stop…Wait a minute.
(Every time I proofread this, I got all Bruno Mars-y here…and although the “fill my cup, put some liquor in it” lyric may seem like the best advice when a power struggle strikes, hopefully you’ll find this a little more constructive. 🙂 )
When you feel the tensions rising, always stop yourself before you respond. As strong-willed parents, our first instinct is to jump right in and “fix” everything. We
want need things done our way…right now. And when that doesn’t happen, we push and push and push until it does.
Now, this makes us really good at a lot of things, but often it complicates the heck out of parenting. So when your blood pressure starts to rise, the first thing you have to do is stop and wait a minute. If you need to leave the room, then do it. It is okay to put yourself in a parental “time-out” because if you blow up, then it will teach them to blow up. And that is the opposite of what we are trying to teach. Remember this: Responding in anger to win only leads to losing.
2. Get Centered…
As the parents, we are the adults. We have kids (no matter what their ages) who are trying to navigate big emotions. It is our job to help them. We do not show them appropriate responses to emotions by reacting poorly to their behavior. Yes, our kids absolutely require discipline. It is a necessary part of raising healthy kids. However, discipline is ineffective if it is delivered in anger.
So when I realize that I can’t handle a situation in a healthy manner, then it is time to back off and get centered.
I know the behavior that needs attention will still be there after I take a break to figure out my best response.
My favorite ways to center are #1, talking to my partner in crime (who happens to be fabulous at teachable moments) or #2, spilling everything I’m thinking onto paper for a few minutes.
By using these tools, I get to release all of my frustration. Then I can return to duty with a clear head and without a volcano of emotion erupting anger all over my kids due to things not going my way.
3. Take Care of Business…
After I take a minute and center, I am ready to address the issue. And by taking the time to cool off before storming into a problem with guns blazing, I not only remove the possibility of feeling like a complete failure due to overreacting but also teach my little ones how to handle conflict in a healthy way.
It is my goal to raise kids to be problem solvers and this is a huge part of that.
Well, that’s it. Now let’s recap what we have learned today…
- When things make you angry, Stop, wait a minute. The problem will still be there after you take a break.
- Get centered. Talk to someone, jump on our Facebook group here to vent, or grab a pen and paper and write for a few minutes. Getting your emotions under control before handling the mess will teach your kids how to respond appropriately to their big emotions.
- Take care of business. Once you have control, handle the problem. Remember they are who you are. They mirror what you do, not what you say to them. Choose your responses wisely. Remember that discipline is ineffective if it is delivered in anger.
Parenting, like anything else, takes A LOT of practice. It is a big job, and it ain’t easy, y’all. Did you know it takes around 10,000 hours to master something? That is a lot of parenting to get to pro status, my friend. So don’t be too hard on yourself. Just keep learning and keep growing. And if you mess up, do it differently next time. 🙂
Wanna talk? Leave me a comment below.