I am all about being real and raw – this is one of those posts. I hope you can relate to it in some way! Maybe you’ve been there. Maybe you are in this chapter of life right now. Maybe you haven’t experienced this, but you could foresee it happening. Whatever your situation may be, I’m sure you know someone who is that strong-willed child.
I have often thought that as a parent, as much as we are trying to teach our children lessons, in change, we are taught them ten fold. This past weekend, was one of those moments.
I recently finished reading “The New Strong-Willed Child” by Dr. Dobson. It has been sitting on my shelf for awhile, but over the past 6 months, it has become clear to me that Mazy can be a bit strong-willed. The book indicated that some parents can tell they have a strong-willed child when the come out of the womb. When I look back, granted I had nothing to compare the situation to, but yes, I would agree with that statement, after reading that section. Though really, I could not be more thankful for who God created Mazy to be.
Mazy feels deeply. Her compassionate, care, and love are so deep. To feel deeply to me, is a true gift. It is something uniquely given, and a treasured trait to have. Because Mazy feels deeply, she can react strongly too, with a bit of stubbornness. Through that willfulness, everything to her is black and white. And that’s when the rubber met the road for us this past weekend.
There were two toys. A hoola hoop and a toy dog. That’s all that had to be picked up yet, as we picked up toys together. She refused. And stared at us with a stern face and said, “I don’t want to.”
We have gone through this routine countless times, and at times, it has been a 45 minute battle. Typically it is not that long of a struggle, but today it seemed to be one of those “episodes.” After reading Dobson’s book, I was again encouraged to not just give in and pick them up for her. We started with a spanking and that form of discipline went no where. Often it does, but not this time.
Then we moved onto a timeout in her room. This only aggravated her more and at this point, Mazy was beside herself. We just let her go, until Dan had the genius idea of telling her that if she did not pick up her toys, that he was going to put them in the trash. Of course that set her off even more, but she had to realize what her choice to NOT pick them up, meant.
We value what we own. If we don’t take care of the things we own, we take them for granted, and eventually become ungrateful for what God has given us. We want Mazy to value what she owns and be thankful for what she has.
Well, she still refused. So Dan picked them up, with Mazy in hand, and put them in our garbage bin. And yes, I’m sure the whole neighborhood heard what went down! It wasn’t easy. And yet she still refused to put those two simple toys away, even though we had given her AMPLE opportunities.
It honestly was so hard to see and hear her so distraught. She wanted those toys back so bad! She kept telling us they were her favorite, that she loved them, and yet she didn’t want to put them away. This girl has willpower! After a few minutes, Dan grabbed them out and gave her another chance. Gave her some grace. And she still refused, so back in the trash they went. Beside herself again, he gave another opportunity for grace and put them on the floor in the living room. Again.
Dan went outside while she continued to think about the decision she had to make. I sat down with her, as she wiped her tears, and just asked her why not? Why was it so hard to just pick up those two toys? She just stared at me.
I told her I wanted to play with her, but couldn’t until she picked them up and then all of a sudden, the switch flipped.
“You want to play with me?”
I told her I want to, but I can’t play with different toys until she puts the ones she’s done with, away. And just like that, she picked them up. It was like the past 30 minutes never occurred. It was like “duh, why didn’t you ask me to pick them up before” type response!
Oh the mind of a strong-willed child! But I have to say, that whole ordeal taught Dan and I so much. Dan’s idea to put the toys in the trash has been a game changer. She has NO problem picking up toys and each time she does, we thank her, give her a high-five, and a few times she has said, “Because I don’t want them to go in the trash.”
Oh that about brings me to tears! Those 30 minutes were brutal. Oh it would’ve been so easy to give in and do it for her! But what lesson would that have taught? The tears and screams were so hard to listen to, as they were getting on our nerves too. But she has to understand that as parents, we LOVE HER SO MUCH, and sometimes love means doing the hard thing to. Those toys are not in the trash (even though we could’ve left them there), but Dan taught her also about grace. What a valuable lesson to teach, even at the age of 3!
All I know is that when it comes to picking up, we have a different kid. Next week it could be different, but this girl got the point. Does she still throw tantrums? Oh yes, on the daily, but she knows we love her – her words to us say it all and her hugs and kisses all the more.
Parenting has taught me more in life than any other event or circumstance. Every day there is a lesson to learn – some bigger than others. I know I have surely made so many mistakes. It is hard to be that constant authority, but what Mazy thrives on, like the book said, is love and control. We are probably a little too lenient at times, but I know I am learning too.
Do you have a strong-willed child? Do you find yourself in similar situations?
All I know is that Mazy is the most beautiful and tenacious girl. Timid around others, but is fiery and full of love. This girl has endless love to give to those she knows and as she grows, I hope she continues to pour into others, as she does even at just 3 years old. You have to earn her trust, but once you have it, you are all hers! Her care and compassion, like I said, brings me to tears at times. My prayer is that she continues to use that fiery spirit to serve God above all. To use that spirit for His Kingdom and to continue to serve Him wholeheartedly.
P.S. The other night we were ready to eat and Mazy said she was going to pray. She held our hands and just said the most heart-filled prayer with no prompts and no script. It was a prayer from that tender heart of hers, that brought both Dan and I to tears. Lord, may her fire for You never be put out!