No, no, no! she screamed, as I tried to put her in her highchair. What was she protesting? Having to eat her dinner in her own chair instead of on mommy’s lap.
And then, she arched her back and stayed stiff as a board so that I couldn’t put her in the highchair.
Do you have a story like this? If you have an SWC (strong willed child), I’m sure that you do. In fact, you probably have many. But you don’t like to tell these stories because the drama overshadows your SWC’s incredibly sweet side. (The side which is actually their norm but is just less “newsworthy” and shocking.)
And while you know that your child is good and sweet at heart, you just long to help them express themselves better when they get frustrated. Did you know that you can help them do this? Without squashing their spirit and their determination?
How, you wonder?
By helping them channel their determination for good!
That’s right! Your older SWC can most certainly channel their determination for good, and that you probably already know. But so can your toddler.
Are you a little skeptical? Don’t be!
Now, I can’t promise that you can help your child avoid every tantrum or that you will never clash wills. There will probably be plenty of that in your future. I’m sorry. Please don’t hate me. However, most of the time, you can help your child use their determination to work with you. And that is the recipe for success!
For example, take the previous scenario. Instead of threatening or just plopping her in the high chair when I was met with resistance, I gave my daughter a choice. I told her that I would love to give her dinner. And I was happy she wanted to snuggle mommy. But since dinner time wasn’t snuggling time she had to sit in her highchair for dinner. And that she couldn’t have dinner until she sat in her highchair. Would you like to know what happened next? After a few moments of sitting on mommy’s lap with no dinner, she chose her highchair. 🙂
You see, channeling your SWC’s determination is all about giving them options and firm boundaries. (When you give them options, you actually have to follow through with whichever option they pick.) Sounds easy, doesn’t it? And it can be easy! The challenge comes in the form of creating two choices you would be happy with her choosing, on the fly, while you are faced with a tantrum or a stressful situation.
Let me give you another scenario from today. We were playing in the pool (and my daughter won’t wear her floaty – and since I’m not prepared to tell her she can’t go to the pool without her floaty until next week we haven’t addressed this issue). Our game was that my daughter was jumping fearlessly into the pool and then I would swoop her out of the water and put her back on the ledge that she could actually stand on. Only, she decided all of a sudden that she didn’t want mommy picking her up out of the water. The problem with that is that she can’t swim yet.
So I told her that if she kept growling at mommy because she didn’t want help, then we would have to go straight back to the house. Or, she could be sweet and happy and we could stay at the pool for a while longer. And because I always follow through with the choices I give her, she decided that she wanted to stay at the pool so she stopped growling at me. Tantrum avoided.
Do you see the theme? I help my daughter to make a decision that I would at least be okay with, and then once she has made and owned her decision she will actually follow through with it on her own rather than protesting because it is a choice mom is trying to make her decide upon.
Anyways, I hope this helps you bring more peace into your home and serenity into your life. And, please, let me know how this strategy works for you in channeling your SWC’s determination for good! (I am also always open to new strategies if you have any to throw my way!)
Have a lovely day!