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Challenge: Finding Your Voice as a Parent

How We Made the Decision to Change How We Parent Our Strong-Willed Kid

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There’s something to be said about strong-willed children. If you have a child with this prized characteristic trait, then you know what I’m talking about.

This evening my husband and I reached our breaking point. All this time we thought we had seen the worst, but apparently our mini felt like he hasn’t quite been giving it his all. Tonight, however, we feel as if we’ve reached the top of Mount Everest. Something needs to change, and it needs to happen now.

Leave it to my kid to make sure he gets the full preschool-age experience. He’s been challenging us to the greatest degree and it feels as if he keeps trying to outsmart, outwit, and outplay us. Yes, we are literally playing Survivor.

Tonight’s episode forces us questioning our parenting techniques as we aren’t sure why he just won’t learn from previous consequences. Every button is pushed and no stone is left unturned. He’s testing every single boundary as if he were conducting a psychological experiment. “I wonder how much more my big people can handle before they absolutely lose their shit?” is what I can imagine him thinking.

Maybe it’s my fault. Maybe it’s because I sometimes I lower my shield because I’ve just had enough. Maybe it’s because I give him too many chances and too many warnings. I have been on the fence about allowing my husband to discipline our child the way he wants to, which is to instil a small amount of fear into the boy. Despite having a minimal amount of fear from our parents, I tend to start feeling bad for my kid when my husband tries to eradicate unacceptable behaviour. Maybe I’ve allowed the books I’ve read on parenting that tell me to follow my child’s cues instead of my gut cloud my judgement. Following my child’s cues would lead us directly into war and that is not an option at his age.

Our child is not simply strong-willed. He’s stubborn, adamant, high energy, strong, and clever. For an adult, it’s awesome. For a child, it’s dangerous concoction. Listening is not his forte. In fact, he couldn’t be farther from mastering this skill. The boy needs boundaries. He needs structure and consistency. He needs more consistent and realistic consequences, which is hard for me to think of on the spot. Parenting him has gotten us caught in a whirlpool and we’re having a hard time grabbing onto the sides to get out.

My anxiety spikes every time we go through this, so I’m guessing that’s why I cave. To relieve his cries is to relieve my discomfort and pain. Knowing this, it’s time for me to make a change. There’s work to be done on myself in order to be the parent I need for my kid. I feel guilty when I take something away or when I get upset with him. But if I don’t teach him how to behave appropriately now, we will be setting him up for failure. This is our responsibility. It’s our job to create an environment where he can learn to grow up to be a productive and kind member of society.

It’s not uncommon that I feel like a failure and a bad mom. It’s true we compare ourselves to other parents and feel like maybe we’re bad parents. There is a tornado of madness ripping through our home and we need to make it stop.

After what seemed like an eternity, we got the tiny human into bed and asleep. Then we hugged each other, and told each other that tonight is the night where everything changes. Tonight, we start doing what is best for him and not what is convenient for us.

This post originally appeared on The Antsy Butterfly and was syndicated on That's Inappropriate

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