Are you raising a strong willed child?

Strong - To have the power to move heavy weights, a great force, powerful or difficult to defeat, powerfully affecting mind, senses and emotions, extreme, especially excessive, able to withstand force or pressure, very intense!

Willed - To have a specified level of determination, intense desire or wish, deliberate, try to make someone do something or make something happen by exercising mental powers.

Butter wouldn't melt in this mouth!

When my daughter was 5 days old I got the first glimpse into what raising a strong willed child would be like. Due to the pain associated with reflux she exercised her strength of will and refused to feed. Fast forward 3 and half months and we were in a hospital ward where my then 'failure to thrive' baby was being fed via a nasal gastric tube due to her continued refusal to feed. Her paediatric consultant said to me during that stay that he had never encountered a baby of such a young age with such a strong will! He said to me "she is going to drive you mental trying to raise her but it will stand her in good steed for the future!" - He wasn't wrong on the drive me mental part.... the future is yet to come. I have always claimed my daughter will make the papers; either she will do something amazing like cure cancer or you will find 46 bodies buried in her backyard... I hope it's the first option. 

I haven't always believed my daughter was just 'strong willed', I've searched for something concrete, measurable, diagnosable to explain her often extreme behaviour. In the process she was diagnosed with Dyslexia which explained a few things and certainly made communicating with her easier but it most defiantly did not increase the length of her somewhat short fuse. 

I remember when she was a toddler and other mothers would comment on how 'stubborn' their children were. They would say things like "little Mary can pack a real tantrum, the other day I couldn't calm her down for an whole 30 minutes!" I used to envy their minor 30 mins of screaming as my daughter could pack a solid 3 hour tantrum without loosing any steam! 

From about the age of 1 she used to hold her breath until she turned blue and passed out. This happened whenever we tried to put her pyjamas on at night or whenever we put her in her car seat. The first time I was so scared by what was happening but after a lot of research, Dr's appointments and confidence in myself I just ignored the behaviour. Thankfully she soon realised it wasn't going to get her anywhere or gain her anything and by about 2 she had stopped doing it. The look on people faces as I buckled a blue child into a car seat who then passed out on me was priceless. 

Probably the biggest issue I've had in raising my strong willed daughter is the battle I have with myself as a parent. I have constantly questioned myself and my parenting style. I've doubted everything I've ever done with her and analysed every moment in her life wondering if I could have changed anything that would have meant she wasn't so extreme. I've thought I've been to hard and disciplined too much, I've thought I was too weak and allowed her to control situations. I've blamed myself over an over and over again for the constant battles she brings to our family. It's taken 9 years but I think I've finally accepted that she is just 'strong willed' and I will hang on for the ride and hope that Dr was right and her determination will infect stand her in good steed. 

So how do you know if you are raising a Strong Willed child? Here's a few things I've learnt.... 

1. They can throw a tantrum, and I don't mean the whinge a bit or cry occasionally. I mean they blow their top on a regular basis over some of the most minor things. Some sure fire tantrum inducing moments in my house include suggesting she take a shower, asking her to tidy her room or telling her she needs to pick up her stuff. The tantrums are loud, they are long and they can not be calmed or controlled. They are instantaneous there is no warning they hit like a brick to the face!

2. They like to do things their way and only their way and most importantly when they want to and on their terms. Theres little room for negotiation and even less desire for them to want to possibly change their views. They're often called 'bossy' or controlling. If you're in a positive mood and looking from a happy perspective you could say they are good leaders. Another positive is they probably can't be sway to do anything the don't want to do, a great bit of character for a teenager, not so much a threenager!

3. They are often little angles for everyone else! This was the ONLY factor about my daughter that reassured me I hadn't completely failed her. She is perfectly behaved at school and with other people, she's well mannered, compliant and friendly. If I ever tell teachers about the child I live with at home they are completely shocked and always she say she is NEVER like that here. I figured if she didn't pack tantrums at school she has full control over her emotions and choses to exercise the right to express them in my 4 walls. 

4. They can argue and argue and argue. You say black they say white, you say now they say later, you say No they say Yes.. you get it?! and they often do it with arms folded all while stamping their foot! 

5. Their character has always just been this way and you don't remember a time when it was any different. Like I mentioned earlier we noticed our daughters will at only 5 days old and it's never faltered. This is who she is, it's always been like this and I'm confident it always will be. As a parent of a child with this sort of character you need to hope you teach them the skills they need to make the right choices in life and their determination, persistence, iron will and grit will do the rest! 

Lastly, to all the parents of strong willed kids out there I just want to say well done. Well done for standing your ground in the line of fire, well done for taking that deep breath when deep down all you want to do is scream back at them, well done for showing them kindness and compassion only moments after they've almost broken your will to live and well done for creating a little human being who has the fire of a dragon in them and is likely to change the world! Our strong willed children are our leaders, or movers and shakers. They questions the status quo and change things if they see fit. They are our drivers and motivators and they are going to make you very very proud one day.... unless they find 46 bodies buried in their back yard! 

Take care and best wishes

Zalie xxx

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