Story by Angela Anagnost-Repke
Just the other morning, my strong-willed child grew upset about something. Honestly, I have no idea what, but I thought, “I need to nip this now or this will be the longest day ever.”
So, I took a few deep breaths as she marched into her room.
Once I knew I could stay composed, I pushed her already-cracked door open. She sat on her floor crying softly. “Can we talk?” I asked.
“No!” she said.
“Ok, well, I’m just going to sit here for a bit, is that okay with you?”
“No!” she shouted.
Her shoulders softened. She paused. “Well, okay,” she said. But I do NOT want to talk.”
“That’s fine.” I said.
I nudged a little closer. “Do you mind if I sing to you?”
“Welllll, okay,” she said.
So, I began to sing to her in my croaky voice. My strong-willed child nuzzled into me and I cradled her like she was a toddler again. We talked about how her feelings are valid, but that it’s not okay to explode onto others like that.
I’ve found that with strong-willed kids there’s a fine line between getting walked on and teaching them that those big emotions are okay to have, but they have to learn how to express them.
So far, the only thing I’ve found that works is gentleness.
When I’m harsh with her, things escalate quickly. They go from her being upset to a freaking tsunami whirling around in our family room. My failure to remain calm gives my strong-willed child the green light to unload in an unhealthy way.
But when I breathe, it allows my child to try to do the same thing, too. Breathe.
I wish I always had the patience to act how I did in the above scene. I don’t. I often lose my temper and scold her too harshly in an attempt for a quick fix.
But the truth is that all kids, even strong-willed kids, deserve to be heard. This is hard work. While these explosive souls take more patience, I believe that if we remember to breathe, the payoffs just might change the world.