Are you one of those lucky parents who happen to have a highly spirited, incredibly difficult, excessively stubborn child who always wants to have her own way? So am I. Lucky us!
She was 11 months when she had her very first temper tantrum. Full fledged tantrum, laying on the floor, on her belly, hands and feet pounding on the floor. My daughter was not a happy camper when she didn’t get her way. When I saw this unfold at 11 months old, I knew I was in trouble. She was way too young for this type of behaviour, and if we didn’t do something about it now, this was only going to get worse as she got older.
That’s when I made the decision to never give in. Whenever I say no to one of her frivolous requests, I will not give in. No matter how much she begs, cries, kicks, screams, spits, bites, hits or threatens (yes, she’s done all of those!), I will not reward her bad behaviour by giving her what she wants.
Easier said than done, right? I mean, at first I thought that by sticking to my guns, keeping my foot down, her behaviour would get better and she would understand she’s just NOT getting her way. She’d have manners and show respect. Give it a few months and she’d understand that. Isn’t that how it’s suppose to go?
Well, maybe in your house, but that’s not exactly how it went in mine.
My daughter is now 10 years old and we still battle about different things. She must have control over every little thing and when she feels she’s losing control, she flips. It’s been a looooong ten years! Some days, I feel like I’m going to lose my mind!
Although we still have bad days, I must say that they are not the norm. She’s not angry as often as she used to be. It used to a be an issue we battled a few times a day. Now we may struggle a few times a month. She has slowly learned that certain behaviours are unacceptable. She has begun to show maturity and self-control. She keeps getting better and better.
How? I NEVER gave in. I knew that if I gave in once, I was completely screwed!!! I promised myself I would only reward good behaviour. She needed to understand that the world does NOT revolve around her and that life does NOT always go as planned. She needed to learn to be flexible and to roll with the punches. It was my job to teach her this. It’s a very important life skill for children to have. But if I had given in once, she would have tried to use that as a way to get more. She would have manipulated to get her way. The kicking, the screaming, the threats? They would never have stopped. That’s not good!
So I made the promise to never give in. And I kept it. Was it easy? Heck no! Ten years (and going) of never giving in? Some days it feels impossible. But I keep reminding myself how much more difficult it would be if I DID give in.
I just don’t want to go there. It’s not worth it. As difficult as it is to keep my promise, it’s still the easiest option I have.
Also, it’s the best gift I could give my child. She is now learning to ask for things politely, how to debate issues without getting angry, how to manage her frustrations and how to forgive others.
She is still the same high spirited child as she used to be. Except now, we are trying to use this energy in a positive way instead of in a destructive and selfish way.
She is becoming a beautiful young woman. God has blessed her in so many ways. I love seeing her blossom before my very eyes. I feel very fortunate to have been chosen as her mother. It was not always easy, but I have learned so much by being her mother. We have both matured during the past 10 years. I’m a better mother because of her and she’s much better because I never gave in…
Regardless of how long you’ve been battling with your child, you can still change things. All you need to do is commit, in this very moment, to never give in again. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. Your child will learn to respect authority, make better choices, complain and whine less. Gracefully teach your child that it’s not the end of the world when they hear the word no. It’s good for them to hear this two-letter word and to teach them how to properly deal with disappointment.
You can do it. Just don’t give in…