Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Strong Willed Child

Recently, I have had several conversations with other mothers that have been really difficult to understand. The basic undertone was something to the effect of  'wonder what it is that you're doing that causes Karsyn to act the way she does?' . Not only is this a hard thing to hear from someone that you consider to be a friend, but it also creates all sorts of 'mommy guilt'. Karsyn is strong-willed, and has been since she was born. She was never a "happy baby" or one that was wanted to be held and loved on. She has wanted to be up and on the move, doing her own thing since birth...seriously...There were days when to get her to eat (when she was around 9 months old), that I would have to hold the bottle in her mouth and follow her around and around her exersaucer because she refused to sit still and let me hold her to eat. The older she has gotten (she's now almost 27 months), the more her strong will has been exhibited. We have read many, many books on the topic, have spent a great deal of time in prayer and have consulted with other parents who have also had a strong willed child and survived. We are doing all that we can to try to instill in her the things that God has told us are necessary.

I spent the last week pulling out all the books that I have on the subject again and trying to see if there is anything that I missed. I found such encouragement today when looking at "The New Strong-Willed Child" by Dr. James Dobson while on the car ride home. I have read this book multiple times, but today I really felt reassured and renewed to tackle the task of raising our sweet, strong-willed girl. Since I'm keeping this blog as a way to look back and see what was going on in our lives, I want to write down some of the things that I found important and want to remember. If you have a strong willed child, read on and find the same encouragement. If you don't have one, maybe you should read so that you won't make hurtful comments to a friend who happens to have the task of shepherding a strong-willed child.

-First, recognize that strong-willed children are NOT a liability, and you should never let yourself feel victimized or cheated by having borne one of them. DO NOT compare your child with the "perfect" children of your friends or relatives...a tough-minded kid IS tougher to raise and at times may push you right to the edge. But that wonderful assertiveness and determination WILL be an asset when your child is grown. That irritating temperament was a gift from God, and He makes no mistakes.

-Children DON'T start life at the same place...the aspect of inborn temperament is NOT something boys and girls learn. It is something they ARE.

-Strong-willed children often possess a certain strength of character that will help them grab the opportunities that come their way. When they make up their minds to reach for something, they are likely to stay with it until the goal is achieved. They are less susceptible to peer pressure.

-Those who are effective in shaping the will without breaking the spirit are going to appreciate the person their child eventually becomes.

-The ultimate paradox of childhood is that boys and girls want to be led by their parents but insist that their mothers and fathers earn the right to lead them.

-Once a child understands who is in charge, he or she can be held accountable to behave in a respectful manner.

-God has instilled parents as leaders for a finite period of time. Authority must be preserved in the home. Children who are acquainted with it learn to yield to the benevolent leadership of God Himself. God has given parents the responsibility of representing Him to their children. He is a God of unlimited love and our children become acquainted with His mercy and tenderness through our own love toward them. But make no mistake, He is also the possessor of majestic authority! The universe is ordered by a sovereign God who requires obedience from His children and has warned that "the wages of sin is death" (Rom. 6:23). To show our children love without authority is a serious distortion of God's nature.

-When your child's behavior is saying "I hate you" in every way possible, hang in there. Keep your courage. Better days are coming. Don't panic...Don't try to "fix" them overnight. Choose carefully the matters that are worthy of confrontation, then accept his/her challenge on those issues and win decisively.

-Parents will not harm a child by taking steps to gain control of a child's rebellious nature, even though it sometimes involves confrontation, sternness, warnings, and when appropriate, reasonable punishment. Only by accepting the inevitable challenges to parental authority and then by "winning" at those critical moments can parents teach a headstrong boy or girl civilized behavior. And only then will that child be given the ability to control his or her own impulses in the years to come.

-If you don't take a stand with your child early, he/she is compelled by his/her nature to push you further. 

-There are two messages that we need to convey to our children before their 4th birthday:
1- I love you more than you can possibly undersatnd. You are precious to me and I think God every day He let me raise you.
2- Because I love you, I must teach you to obey me. That is the only way I can take care of you and protect you from things that might hurt you. The Bible tells us "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right" (Eph. 6:1)

-While raising a strong-willed child may be difficult, it is worth the effort to do the job right. The Lord gave you that challenging child for a purpose.  He wants you to mold and shape him/her and prepare them for a life of service to Him. You're up to the task! You are going to make it with the Lord's help!

If any of you are struggling with the same thing, be encouraged! Feel free to message me if you have any great advice or success stories that you can share. If you don't happen to have a strong-willed child, be careful of the messages you are sending to those that do. We are all just doing the very best that we can. I can promise you that it is not my desire for my child to throw a tantrum in the middle of wal-mart or to cry fourteen times within our hour long visit together... We're working through it and I know that one day things won't be quite this challenging. Karsyn Rose, if you happen to read this one day years down the road, you are worth every bit of the effort. Daddy and I love you and are so very proud to be your parents! We would not trade you for anything. We know and believe that one day you are going to do great things. We pray that you will use your strong will for Christ and that you will be able to stand strong when others can't or won't. We love you!


  1. Wow, Kara!! I'm not sure where to begin...do you have a minute? ;)

    First, an amazing God-incidence: several weeks ago, my husband was attempting to purge some of my book collection and came across my parenting items. God has been calling me back to 'The New Strong Willed Child' child, so much so that I actually read the intro last night. This morning I happened across your inspirational blog and am amazed, once again, at God's powerful influence on our lives.

    I had almost given up altogether when my oldest, Logan, was about 3. He was super independent and, although a very loving child, most days were extremely difficult. Whether at home, at daycare, or with grandparents, Logan was a challenge. I sought out a local child counselor, asked questions of every parent I knew, read books & listened to tapes, all while feeling like a complete failure as a parent! I was the cliche young, single mom that just wasn't doing something 'right', when in fact I just didn't turn to the 'right' place. Had I fully understood the power of Christ at that time in my life, perhaps things could've been easier.

    Now, there is Micah. He is a stubborn 13mth old that loves to challenge us! Thankfully, I have become MUCH stronger in my relationship with the Lord and know where to turn for guidance. He's made it very clear which direction He'd like me to take when dealing with my children and their equally strong wills..... Is Logan still head strong at 9 yrs old? Yes. Has it gotten easier? Yes. Am I still working on being the best parent I can be? Absolutely, everyday!!

    Thank you for sharing some of the things that encourage you, they most definitely have encouraged me as well!!! :)

    (God Loves You And So Do I)

  2. Two to three (Bryant is only strong willed some days) out of my three kids are very strong willed every day. I completely agree that it's just WHO they are and where they come from (strong-willed parents) because how else could parents raise kids so completely different. Cody is as sweet as he could possibly be when he wants to be, but he also tests my authority many times every day. Yes, part of being 2 is testing authority and boundaries, but he takes it to the limit. He wants what he wants and will take it from whomever has it. We are working on these things a little at a time to a great improvement.
    I want to thank you for sharing those points and I may have to invest in that book one of these days because I am more than aware (because Taylor (8) is still strong willed (will be forever) and we had to work through these things when she was two too) things may improve, but more and more complicated challenges are to come and searching for tools and advice is definitely in the game plan.

    P.S. I always appreciate opinions. Even ones I strongly disagree with. I know that unwise people can be hurtful, but I also know that God uses all things to better us. Sometimes we may need humbling or maybe God used those people to make you defensive and cause you to seek Godly guidance elsewhere and it appears you found exactly the encouragement you needed in the first place. Praise God He turns ALL things to GOOD:)Genesis 39:1-6


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