Soon after the birth of my little girl, I realised she had a very strong will.
It started with feedings, absolutely no routine – when she was hungry or thirsty or sometimes just in the mood, I had to be there and ready. I tried to fool her with a bottle, she preferred the real thing, and this had to go on until she was three years old.
I remember how I struggled to get her to sleep for more than two hours at a time, all I wanted was that little bit extra sleep, another moment to regroup. But she insisted, awake time! The more I wanted it different the more tension I created.
I soon realised I had to let go, perhaps if I made her believe she was in charge she would relax a little bit. I tried and it worked!
She learned to speak quite early on, by the time she was a year and a half she could speak full sentences. Oh my word! Oh my sentence! She soon let me know, and very quickly too, if she was not happy with something. It freaked me out completely! I felt totally out of control. And I really thought that this was disobedient behaviour.
From the spoon she uses to the type of fruit she eats. It is all her decision and a constant power struggle. If I say this, she says that. Imagine the surprise when all we were ever taught was that obedience is the alpha and omega. That there is no choice just accept and do what you are told to do. I realised, I am about to embark on the greatest challenge of my life, to accept and then to let flourish a strong-willed daughter!
One day, she tested me again, I can’t even remember what it was, perhaps it was about the colour of her shoes, or the plate she wanted to eat from, all I know is that I just stood there thinking, you are doing this on purpose little girl! You are making me act and feel like a five year old, I am throwing a tantrum because you are so intentionally disobedient!
Before I could snap, I thought this is it. It’s time for the self-help aisle again. Nothing can prepare you for a strong-willed child. So there I was, back to the books. I had to figure out firstly, am I the only one?! And if not, please help me understand this child!
I learned that it is very important to pose choices rather than commands. Mishka is not deliberately awful, she has to understand why she is told to do something, or for that matter why not. I learned that if I don’t give her options, she will make the whole world know that she is unhappy with what I suggested, or gave her, or wanted her to do.
Don’t sweat the small stuff. Don’t sweat the small stuff? It is terribly difficult to live by this motto. It became a lifestyle rather than an abstract idea. I had to practice every day, I still do. Let it go. Because, I started thinking, what is more important, obedience or having strong moral values. How can I force her to do things against her will just to enforce obedience?
My mission is to make her trust my judgement so that it is not a case of obedience but a case of “cool, it’s my mommy and she knows best”. To establish this, I realised the most important thing for our relationship is communication.
I believe by giving her choices will enable strong leadership characteristics; it will motivate independence especially when it comes to making decisions. She is incredibly courageous and spirited, and full of life and so much passion. Why would I want to suppress these qualities by enforcing obedience?
Mishka usually chooses the right thing, but she has to be given options. This gives me peace of mind. Afterall isn’t it more important to do the right thing at the right time than to just blindly follow?
“Morality is doing what is right, no matter what you are told. Obedience is doing what you’re told, no matter what’s right”- H.L Mencker
I am striving to raise a child with self-discipline, a little girl who takes responsibility, a considerate child with good instinct, to know who to trust and by whom to be influenced by. Much rather this, than raising an obedient little girl.
The biggest risk in this is allowing her to make mistakes and to learn through the experience without putting her life in danger. I constantly have to remind myself that I must not command but offer options.
I love my strong-willed daughter unconditionally, and she is truly a blessing, with or without this strong will. I sometimes find myself as the student and not the teacher.
I can’t wait to see how she unfolds into the most beautiful butterfly.
Black Lace Cape by Rising Heroes Kids