Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Parenting a Strong Willed Child

Here's an update after an extremely long hiatus.
Kayleb has grown up very much over the year. His strong-willingness is getting more obvious by the day and he wouldn't stop until he gets what he wants.

There are parents who regard his behaviour as disobedience and he's no more than a spoiled child. I beg to differ, not just because I'm his mother. The truth is, there are strong-willed children and parenting them comes with techniques.

I admit I'm not the best mother. There are tonnes of things I've to learn. This is one of the hardest lesson - Dealing with a strong willed child without losing sanity.

I'm short-tempered. Sometimes when he insists, there's this build up in me that wants to explode off my head. There are times where I lose it and there are times the sane part of me persuades myself to take a deep breath and restart my engine.

There are many articles that teaches parents on how to deal with a strong-willed child.  I practise what works best for me:

Give Choices
Since strong-willed children needs to feel in control, thus, offer options. Instead of a flat "No" and expecting him to obey, give alternatives.

Meal times are not the easiest. He isn't much of a big eater and getting him to consume meat is a tough task. Instead of forcing him, I offer choices. "Would you like noodles or rice for lunch today?"

He makes the choice of either noodle or rice, and mommy gets to choose the dining venue or recipe if I'm cooking. 

This apparently works. And it has saved me tonnes of time and energy in getting food down his throat. He fills his tummy without putting up a fight.

Set Routines and Rules
We set daily routines so he knows of what to expect everyday.

Weekdays starts early so we get to work and school on time. We start by going to the toilet, brushing our teeth, washing our faces and then getting dressed. If we're earlier than usual, we can have time for light breakfast, other wise, we have them in school.

When we get home, our priority is finishing any home work before play time. The quicker we get homework completed, the longer our play time. He gets options of having a shower before or after home work. He gets to choose the type of play time depending on how much time there is. Playstation is a luxury play time only when it is still early or over a holiday evening.

Preparation of bed time starts at 9pm. He gets to choose the type of milk (chocolate or orignal) and the storybook. 

There are definitely moments where both of us lose it and those days where parenting sucks. But I make it a point to remind myself to always listen.

He may be throwing a fit and yelling. And Bad Mommy me wants to scream even louder to shush him up. But Good Mommy me lowers myself to his height (so we speak eye level to eye level) and speak in a soft and calm tone. 

He calms down as well and starts explaining himself.

Feeling like he's being understood is important for a strong-willed child. They yearn for understanding and respect. Fighting head strong isn't going to resolve anything. Be in their shoes, understand their situation and meet them half way with parental limits. 

There was once Kayleb insisted to bring his bear to enrichment class. He refused to enter the classroom without his bear. I told him "I know you love pi-pi very much and wants to be with him. But we are going for class right now. How about I put him in your backpack and you can take him out and cuddle him when class is over?"

Parenting ain't a bed of roses, especially with a strong-willed child. Everyday is a lesson. And I'm still learning to be the best parent I can.
Setting limits with understanding of your child's perspective so they can co-operate.
See the whole list of tips from AHAparenting.

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