Archive for September, 2010

I’ve had a strong-willed child on my hands for five years.  From birth (complications) through the first year (colic) to toddlerhood (authority schmauthority) to preschool (I don’t care for circle time.  Let’s play.) to kindergarten, where we are now fumbling our way through conversations like:

Me:  This work doesn’t look complete.
SW Boy:  It’s not.  I didn’t really feel like finishing it.
Me:  SW boy, you have to finish your class work in class.
SW boy:  Why?  Why can’t I just finish it at home?
Me:  Because…because…

So now, at the recommendation of his teacher, we’re doing “speed games” because he’s slow in class.  I give him two or three tasks and set a timer.   The funny thing is, he thinks the games are silly, and we both know he can beat the clock any time he wants to.  Methinks the well-intentioned teacher may have met her match. 

But I digress.  I’ve read at least five books on the topic of strong-willed children, and I have a solid base of textbook knowledge from which to draw when said will exerts itself (which is daily, thank the good Lord child No. 2 is compliant).  The problem is, in part…me.  I find myself debating with him when I shouldn’t (because he counters, questions, stalls relentlessly); I wind up snapping at him (when I should just gently but firmly implement a consequence); I find myself being stubborn and I almost never give in (when I know there’s nothing wrong with giving in every once in a while).

A while back we wrote a list…Eight Rules of Behavior that I found here and modified, and we’ve been largely holding him to these rules.  For each one he breaks, he gets a consequence of parental choosing.  But the implementation is rarely smooth on account of the aforementioned parental behavior.  So I sat down today and wrote a list of rules for myself:

1.  No yelling – let the consequence speak for itself.
2.  No repeating – implement the consequence as soon as I’m ignored.
3.  No dinner battles – if he doesn’t eat and he’s hungry later, he comes back to the same plate.
4.  Be consistent

I know I’ll add to this list over time, and I’m going to post it somewhere prominent so that I have a constant reminder. 

If you’re the parent of a strong-willed child, I would love to hear about your strategies.  I need all the help I can get.


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**not for young eyes**

An 18 year-old man – a child, really – ends his life with a Facebook post and a single step off the George Washington bridge.  Reading this afternoon about the sad chain of events leading to his death stunned me, and I’ve been morbidly following the story and reading the witch-hunt like comments attached to the Fox News article.

At first I got caught up in trying to sort out responsibility and  the level of prosecution that would be adequate for the suspects, all while commenters raged on about privacy and gay rights and homophobia and personal accountability.  Eventually I began to wonder about the point of all the debate. 

I’m the bazillionth person to say this, but it’s a tragic event.  And it’s over.  It’s horrifyingly over and a child is dead and two more children will likely be imprisoned for their cruel and childish behavior.  We can try the perpetrators according to the law, but only God can judge them. 

There is a larger question behind this calamity, but I don’t know what it is.  That the perpetrators did not consider the consequences of their actions (or, worse, didn’t care), and that an 18 year-old boy felt he had so little support that he would choose ending his life as the best course of action speaks to a larger failure – one that extends far beyond the plight of these three individuals.   

I wonder whether we as a nation linger too long in our collective carefree youth, when it’s responsibility and servitude that grounds us.  

But that’s not it either.  I had hoped to write my way through the void, but it’s a question to be pinpointed by people much more insightful than me.

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