The Strong Willed Child

Mac has begun the "terrible twos". I actually hate that term. I should call it the not-so-fantastic twos. Anyhow, somewhere my mom is laughing because Mac has inherited the stubborn gene from both my husband and myself, making him only slightly less difficult to deal with than a mule at times.

Last week I was talking to my mom telling her his attitude was starting to be less than pleasant at times and I commented on how stubbornness is not a BAD trait, as long as the person is being stubborn for the right reason. I also said that I don't want to "break" him of being stubborn, but rather teach him that I'm the boss. That's that.

When Mac was about 1 year old, I ordered three books, all of them written by Dr James Dobson: Dare to Discipline, Bringing up Boys, and The Strong Willed Child. Call it mothers intuition but I had a feeling I would be needing them.  I breezed through Dare to Discipline right after I bought it and found it a pretty good guide, but to be honest, I hardly remember any of it. Due to Mac's current shift in behaviour though, I thought it was time to start reading the Strong Willed Child.

I'm about a third of the way through it and I love it. I'm the type of person that likes having a detailed plan of action and I don't function well with ambiguous guidelines. For instance, I KNOW that my child needs to respect me, you don't have to convince me of that. But HOW do I make that happen??  This book (So far) has been perfect for me. I just finished the chapter on how to "Shape the Will Without Breaking the Spirit and I wrote some notes that I wanted to share. He gives a step by step guide on how to respond when your child directly challenges your authority.

1. When my child challenges me I need to be a secure and confident leader. A child that learns to yield to the authority of God by first learning to submit to (rather than bargains with) the leadership of him parents.

2.  Make sure to define boundaries before enforcing them. You can't punish a child for breaking a rule he/she doesn't know exists.

3. Distinguish between childish irresponsibility and WILLFUL DISOBEDIENCE. Childish irresponsibility should be dealt with differently than willful disobedience. Dobson advocates spanking only for WILLFUL DISOBEDIENCE.

4. Reassure and teach after the confrontation is over. After having disciplined your child, hug them, tell them you love them and are doing this for their own good. Discipline without love is abuse.

5. Avoid impossible demands.

6. Let love guide. Dobson says that while establishing boundaries is important and necessary, there are times when mercy or grace is appropriate. This models the mercy/grace shown to us by God. Dobson also very clearly states that you can do everything right and that doesn't mean the your child won't misbehave. Children and children and they have bad days just like parents aren't perfect and will make mistakes.

These are just bullet points and in no way as informative as the actual book is, but I found it very helpful. I would recommend this book to any parent because it provides a game plan going into the battle. And don't wait to read it will you're in the middle of it - you might save yourself a few headaches if you read it earlier!!


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