Summer and the strong-willed child

Summer and the strong-willed child

Posted: Wednesday, June 1, 2011 8:01 pm
By: By Lisa Smartt

Does this scenario sound familiar to any of you?
“Mom, may I have a popsicle?”
A patient and loving mother replies, “Sure, Honey! Popsicles are a summertime tradition.”
“Mom, I want an orange one.”
“Sorry, my darling. No orange ones left. We’ve got green and purple. Which one would you like, oh precious child of mine?”
“Mom, I want an orange one.”
“Yes, I’m aware of that, Darling. There are no more orange ones.”
“Mom, the orange ones are my favorite.”
“Yes, Sweetheart, I know that. However, there are NO MORE ORANGE POPSICLES!!”
“Why did everyone eat my orange popsicles?”
“They are not just YOUR orange popsicles. They belong to this family. Now, would you like a popsicle or not?”
“Yes, I WOULD like a popsicle. I DEFINITELY DO want a popsicle!! I WOULD LIKE an orange popsicle.”
“Listen, MISTER!! You should be thankful you even live in a country that has popsicles and air conditioning and public education … and … um …  that you have your freedoms and liberties. My grandparents were out picking cotton when they were your age, Mister Orange Popsicle. They would have never even DREAMED of anything as delicious as a popsicle and let me PROMISE you they would have gladly wiped their scarred and bloody hands on a tattered rag and walked an uphill mile for A GREEN OR PURPLE POPSICLE!!! What do you think about that??”
“I think I really want an orange popsicle.”
Do you know a strong-willed child? If you’re not sure if you have a strong-willed child, you don’t. If you had one, there would be no doubt. Trust me. Strong-willed children face the day with an agenda. They want their own way at all cost. They tend to rise early in the morning to get the upper hand. Some people are just plain easier to deal with on a daily basis. They’re not better or worse, just easier. My parents tell me I was an easy kid. I simply didn’t like trouble and conflict. Hence, the strong-willed child amazes me.  They’re willing to sacrifice their own privileges and personal comforts in order to attempt to overthrow the family structure.
People with strong-willed children need to get up early and devour a protein shake. They need to spend countless extra hours in prayer and meditation. The strong-willed child doesn’t want to win. He wants us to be “adult enough” to handle the situation and remain in control. When his manipulative tantrums work, he feels a sad sense of insecurity. (That advice was free courtesy of James Dobson and others!) There’s a more appropriate way to handle the popsicle situation. “Look Honey, it’s green or purple. No more discussing it. I’ve got to move on to the next task at hand.” If Junior wants to continue the debate, the freezer door gets closed and it doesn’t open again. Yes, I know this will cause wailing. Send your little darling to wail on the back porch and remind yourself how cute he is when he’s sleeping. My advice for “summering” with a strong-willed child? Get plenty of rest, drink lots of fluids and remember this bit of encouragement. Some of the most incredible adults on the planet began as strong-willed children.
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For more information about Lisa Smartt, visit her website lisasmartt.com.

Published in The Messenger 6.1.11

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