Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Gentle Discipline and the Strong Willed Child

the boy
Image credit: slightly everything on Flickr
I am posting over at Natural Parents Network today on Gentle Discipline and the Strong Willed Child.

"The truth is that if you enter into battle with a strong willed child, your entire life will turn into a war zone. We will not back down, will not give in, will not surrender. If it truly becomes a fight, chances are good that one will have to defeat the other, in spirit if not physically. And that is to destroy not only part of your child's God-given personality, but also your relationship. Either your child will be deeply imbued with shame and believe that she deserves to be treated that way, or she will continue the fight once she is older and has greater resources."

The conflict for many parents is that they have been told that Godly obedience means that children will comply first and understand later.  That is *not* the Hebrew understanding of obedience.  From a Hebraic view, it is a process of hearing, understanding and then obeying from the heart. 

Another common objection is that parents don't have time to argue over every detail of an instruction before the child complies.  Here is the thing: you don't have to.  True emergency situations will have a number of differences, including how your child responds to your emotional stress.  It is also likely that physically helping a child will be a part of an emergency situation.  Furthermore, a history of good reasons for your instructions and connection between you are *more likely* to result in trust when it really counts.

I have come to celebrate my strong willed children, and cannot wait to see how they will change the world.  Head over to NPN for the full article!  :)


Angela said...

My middle child is very strong willed and I wouldn't change it for the world! I have learned that working with her rather than against her has the best results by far. She just turned 4 and I know that we are building the foundations for an amazing relationship :)

Gretchen said...

Thanks for this. I was a strong-willed child. I fought because I didn't understand. My parents, while very well intentioned, were regularly guilty of the "obey first, explain later" mentality. I was often confused, and my immature self only knew to throw a tantrum - there was no other way to be heard. If I understood why a rule or instruction was important, it was no problem to follow it.

Suchada @ Mama Eve said...

Dulce, I couldn't agree with this more! My oldest is *definitely* a strong-willed child, and that was evident from his first days. As he got older, we tried "traditional" discipline (time-outs, punishment), and it did nothing but make our home a battlefield. It wasn't until I learned to really listen to what he was trying to communicate were we able to move forward and find peace.

We don't use any punishment in our home (although we do use consequences . . . such as, if you hit your brother with your car, I'm taking the car away), and I'm so proud of how my son is growing up. He is polite, respectful, inquisitive, caring, and truly interested in the world around him. I feel like if we continued with traditional parenting, we would have shut him down and missed out on knowing what an amazing person he is.

Mike and Christie said...

Great post! I too have found that my stronger willed children need the gentlest of instruction lest they be crushed.
Our 3rd son was the strongest willed child in history... I SWEAR HE WAS... (that is until Miss Alli) LOL
And you are soooo correct that through relationship they will become a STRONG ALLY! They cherish relationship and obey from Love.
When our son was 3.... OH MY.... I am so glad that I threw "The Strong Willed Child" away! and trusted my instincts.

Kathleen Quiring | Becoming Peculiar said...

Love this! Why are we told that being strong willed is a bad thing? Why must we make strong-willed children (especially if they're girls) think there's something wrong with them? I love your attitude.

Vanessa said...

I'm beginning to think I have three very strong willed children, just in different ways. But, yes I have always said that about my oldest (my personal hardest challenge), that when she is a teen, she will be strong willed and stick with her convictions and not sway! Thank you for the timely reminder!

Willa said...

I liked the thought about the Hebraic understanding of obedience!

I agree -- love and gentleness are perhaps even more important with strong-willed children -- that has been my experience, as well.