I have the pleasure of raising a strong willed smaller version of myself. After a battle in power struggles all I can do is snicker in reflection of the play by play. My daughter is the reason authors write books on strong-willed children. She is the reason I’ve probably read them all. The complexities of her personality have had me stumped more than a few times, which is why I came up with a hybrid parenting approach.
When my children were just infants I began with gentle parenting. I didn’t know that was what I was doing at the time. It just came naturally, I breastfed until they self-weaned, I co-sleep, and I intuitively responded to their needs. If they cried, I responded to whatever it was that they needed. I love and nurture my babies. It was only after reading some articles online that I learned that this is called “gentle parenting.”
In time, my oldest became a toddler where the phrase, “hands are not for hitting” came into play. Thankfully this lasted for a few short weeks, until my son came along. My daughter had strengthened my parenting skills so well, there wasn’t anything he could do that I couldn’t handle. However, as they grew older I quickly realized I needed more than a gentle approach to parenting.
In steps positive, respectful, biblical, parenting, using love and logic. It’s a lot to take in, I know. Both my kids have pretty strong personalties. Negative parenting approaches felt unnatural to me. A forced approach that I would grow to hate. Yet, my children needed guidance and rules that gentle parenting didn’t provide.
Positive parenting techniques that I integrated into our family are natural, logical, and associated consequences. Rest assured, I don’t parent alone. I research, discuss with my husband, pray and with his support we move forward. An example of an associated consequence would be if you ask your child to shut the TV off and they ignore you or have a tantrum, then they have the TV privilege taken away. The more the consequence is associated with the issue the better the child learns from it.
Logical consequences are both derived from positive parenting and love and logic parenting philosophies. My daughter for the longest time would not put her shoes on before we would leave to go anywhere. Countless requests, 30 minutes of instruction and they still were anywhere but on her feet, it could be maddening. I waited until spring and began with a logical approach and allowed for the natural consequence to occur. I told her when we were leaving and what she needed to have on her feet to go. When it was time to go, I left, and walked out the door with no shoes.
It was early spring so the cement was still cold. She did a little dance across the pavement as the chilled cement tickled her feet. She stopped and turned to me, “I need my shoes.” I didn’t go get them, I simply said, “yes you do, what should you do right now?” A light bulb went off, “I should go get them.” Which she did. This took a couple tries but enduring a natural consequence taught her to put her shoes on without asking, and she gained some independence.
Positive parenting experts encourage Time-Ins and a love and logic approach supports time outs. We do both for different reasons. My husband grew up on time outs, and based off of his childhood feel they are a effective form of discipline. I don’t disagree with that, but it depends on the kind of effect I want.
I want my children to understand what they did wrong so they can learn from it. Which is why I prefer time-ins. If your not familiar with this, it means you sit in timeout together with your child. Together you discuss what they did wrong.
I’ve customized by adding character development books, reading the section that discusses what character quality they are struggling with at the moment. I will confess, I don’t always have the patience for this, I am not Jesus. (😂) I have left my daughter to flip through the character development book (sometimes a childrens bible) until we are both calm and then we discuss what she’s done wrong and how she can correct it.
Another aspect to positive parenting is ensuring the child knows what is expected of them. For instance, shutting the TV off resulted in a loss of self control on a regular basis. Going forward I would pause the TV and give a 5 minute warning. “The show ends in 5 minutes, when it ends you will shut it off and we will go outside. If you start another show or lose self-control, then as a consequence you will lose the TV privilege for the day.” I had immediate success with setting this expectation but it is imporant to note, I always follow through with what I say, and consistency is paramount for parental success.
Respectful parenting is a perspective that I am still adjusting to but it jives very well with Charlotte Mason’s Methods. I find this approach compliments our core teaching style. She recognizes that children are not less then adults, they are also human and just like adults, deserve respect. When you really think about it, it’s true. Furthermore, how can you expect a child to have respect for you, if you don’t set an example by treating them respectfully. Too often I observe parents extremely shaming, blaming, and degrading their children. I am no saint myself but all I can see coming from this is low self confidence, distrust of the parent, poor bonding in the parent child relationship, and a negative self image.
In contrast, I want to see my children thrive in all parts of their lives. I intentionally avoid negative talk out of respect for my children. Instead, I focus on praise and encouragement. Going back to the TV struggle we had for a while. Once my daughter shut the TV off immediately without a loss of self control, I made sure she knew I was proud. It went something like this, “I know this has been a struggle for you but you shut the TV off without arguing. You did very well on not losing your self control.” Then she hugged me with a big smiley face.
My daughter is strong willed and my son is determined and fiercely independent for a 2.5 yr old. I use to think strong-willed wasn’t such a good thing. After awhile, I began to see the beauty in it. One day she will be a very strong young woman and one day my son will be a brave and determined young man. Right now I am raising the future generation, the most important job God has ever given to me. I stand by it and I will serve him well.