Faith and Family Friday–HELP ME PLEASE, MY KIDS ARE WILD!

Who’s Wild???
Today, I thought I’d build off a post over on the Women Living Well blog–http://womenlivingwell.org/2012/03/dealing-with-bad-attitudes-in-children/. Courtney talks about how she’s working to teach and train her children to have good attitudes.
Kids smart-mouthing their parents, throwing tantrums in grocery stores, biting their playmates…any of this sound familiar to you? Today, I’ll focus on the in-your-face stuff (developed into an art form by many strong-willed children), the kind of stuff that makes you feel like you’re beating your head against the wall when you’re disciplining.
Now, I’m no expert on child-rearing, far from it. But I’ve learned some things along the way that have made our lives easier. I hope they might help you, as well. 
I’ve stolen all my best ideas from a) the Bible, b) my Grandma, or c) my parents and parents-in-law, whose children did turn out quite well in the end (though my destiny was questionable for some time…yeah, I was a strong-willed little booger)!
First off for the wild kid: Tolerate no disrespect. This is imperative.
The moment the wild kid tries to hit, kick or bite you, you have to shut him/her down. Otherwise, they basically dominate you and they will not stop trying to do so. It’s just human nature. Kid nature, you might say.  
How you shut them down is up to you, but for us, it was spanking. This might be controversial, but done right, it can have nearly miraculous results. Eventually, all you have to do is give your child The LOOK, and they know there will be trouble when they get home, unless they stop dumping candy in the grocery cart.
And do not fear that you will crush your child forever. Strong-willed children have a higher tolerance for disciplinary measures, and they actually enjoy seeing how far they can get with their disobedience before they’re called on it. Trust me, I know. But if you don’t quite trust me yet, take Cynthia Tobias’ word–she was strong-willed too, and wrote a book about itYou Can’t Make Me, But I can be Persuadedhttp://www.christianbook.com/Christian/Books/product?isbn=1578561930
Secondly: Set boundaries and make them CLEAR.
For us, this often took the form of lecturing BEFORE we went into that grocery store/restaurant. A little pep talk, if you will. “This __________ (fill in the blank) is how I expect you to behave.” It was a little reminder, but I found it to be very effective, given just PRIOR to when said activity was to take place.
A great book on this very topic is Boundaries with Kids, by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend–http://www.christianbook.com/boundaries-with-kids-henry-cloud/9780310243151/pd/43157.
Thirdly: Love on your Wild Kid in the Meantime.
This is very self-explanatory, but sometimes it’s hard to do, when your child is driving you nutso. But just be sure to work those hugs and kisses and bedtime stories in there. They know you love them, but it’s good to remind them of it. I always explained that when they were sinning, I knew it was taking them AWAY from God, and they would be happier if they got CLOSER to God instead.
Sometimes, with a strong-willed child, you feel you’re disciplining all the time. But the Bible tells us “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.” Gal. 6:9 NASB. 
Moms/Dads of small strong-willed children, I know you are already weary! You’re so weary you feel like you might as well give up and let the wildness take over. But trust God. We will reap, we just have to keep from fainting (the KJV uses that term, and I like it a little better on this verse!). 

I remember when I was ready to give up with my strong-willed young-un. I had three kids under the age of three at one point in time and my husband worked long hours, so I was Bad Cop most of the time. I remember calling him and asking if I should keep up the discipline or just give up the fight. 

My wise hubby told me to just keep doing what I was doing, and eventually it would get easier. 

And he was totally RIGHT. By the time said strong-willed young’un grew up a couple of years, it was much smoother sailing. Wild child learned that obedience was expected. Wild child learned the path of least resistance might be good. 

My wild-child will always be strong-willed, I have no doubt. In fact, the day after I wrote this post, guess what? We had to have a chat about something behaviorally related (happens every time!).

Strong-willed children will stay strong-willed. But if you help them learn to harness that when they’re young, it will be helpful to them when they get older. Strong-willed children have a natural drive and determination to beat the odds.


(A very helpful thing to have in the writing industry, I might add.)

Regardless, I hope these little pointers encouraged you in some way today! And just don’t faint! You will reap!

****What about you? Do you have a strong-willed child? Do you hate these suggestions and have some better ones? Have you almost come to the breaking point with your wild child?****

14 thoughts on “Faith and Family Friday–HELP ME PLEASE, MY KIDS ARE WILD!

  1. Thank you for the encouragement and words of wisdom. I have two girls, 7 & 5 and twin boys who just turned 2 today! My girls were a breeze, but my boys are already pushing my buttons and it's a little more intense because there are two. When one wants something, the other thinks it's a good idea, and when I say NO I have two toddlers throwing a fit. I am weary, but I know that things will get better and I need to stay consistent, because I will reap the benefits later on.

  2. No kids of my own, but with our cat we make sure that we stay consistent with our reward/punishment program. I've noticed if I grow lax with discipline for unwanted behavior, the problem gets worse. Our cat likes to test if we're still guarding the counter tops by jumping up on them once in a while. He gets thrown in the bathroom every time he gets caught and it seems to deter the behavior for a long time after that. But if I don't do anything about it, or I let it slide, he'll be up again within the same day.

  3. From the moment my kid entered the world he let us know he was not going to follow our expectations. I think I might have the first baby ever who the nursery in the hospital wouldn't keep him that first night- they brought him back to me because they couldn't get him to stop crying!The first few months he was alive I drove myself crazy reading all sorts of parenting books on getting your kid to sleep. A lot of good that did! In the end, reading the Bible and trusting God to help me deal with his unique personality is what has worked.I know our road ahead will be full of challenges but I'm looking forward to every minute of it- though I might be bald before he is five.

  4. I love all these comments, keep trying to add mine but blogger won't do it! At least it's getting yours!TC–I had a kid they brought back from the nursery the same night I gave birth to her (nurses were too busy or something). Yes, keep praying and reading the Bible and good books, that helps.Gabrielle, glad I could help you!And Wendy, it is such hard work! Consistency is so hard for tired mommas.And Kimberlee, I think you do have a strong-willed cat! Hee.

  5. I used to say my son would never live to see his third birthday because the crazy boy would either kill himself with one of his stunts, or I'd kill him for his disobedience. Happily, he is now nineteen. He's over six feet tall, and he thanks me often for spanking him when he was little enough to be spanked, so that he learned to obey before he was too big to be stopped.

  6. Glad to see so much common sense here. I get fed up with the "no spanking under any circumstances" brigade. They either have no kids of their own, or kids who totally rule the roost to plaintive and ineffective cries of "No, Quentin, please don't do that…" :)Of all those ideas, though, the third is vital and all too easy to forget.

  7. And Sally, great example. They can be regular little wild-uns as kids, then grow up into perfectly respectable teens (and I know many strong-willed kids who come back and are VERY GRATEFUL for their parents' discipline!). I think the key in all of it is obedience. We want them to be willing to obey God someday, and that involves putting that strong will UNDER, for greater reward.

  8. Well, this comes at the right time! lol It seems like the disciplining never ends. I have three boys and yep, times get wild. They take turns being strong-willed. lolI love your tips. The reminder works well for me and spanking, when done right, also works well. So does the corner. Nothing like stinking up a boy's day than making him hold still. Heehee!Thanks for popping by my blog the other day. πŸ™‚

  9. Ours are 10 yrs apart, with the youngest being a newer teen-ager. She's always been our "free spirit", whereas her older brother was a little more easy-going. Such great thoughts here. Consistency with discipline and follow-through are key. When we give in as parents, we're doing as much of a disservice to God as we are to our children.

  10. My daughter is more the determined child, she'll be three in May. I've learned time outs work well with her, but sometimes we repeatedly take her back to the time out spot until she realizes she has to stay there. Many times I've prayed for God to give me guidance and patience during these times.

  11. Great post, Heather. I've read Tobias' book too. Dr. Dobson's "The New Strong-Willed Child" was also very helpful to me.There are definitely days that my strong-willed daughter makes me want to give up. I just keep bringing my burden back to God and praying He'll show me how to reach this girl he created in such a fashion. I know He has a plan, just hope I'm let in on it sooner rather than later. πŸ™‚

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