When you have children, you quickly realize not all personalities are the same. My oldest daughter was strong willed, and she still is sometimes. My son is as easy-going and sensitive as they come. And then there’s my Audrey. She is sweet as can be, but sugar bear is strong willed. She is 17 months old, and she has been keeping me on my toes ever since she joined our family.
I have a very Type-A personality. I like things to go a certain way, stay clean, and be put back in their place. Audrey has her own opinions. She’s so small but so mighty. She’s already decided high chairs aren’t cool, or bibs either. When we take my oldest daughter to school, Audrey likes to walk and attempt to carry my daughter’s things in the building. She wakes at night still a few times and wants momma milk when she wants it.
Now, let me just say how much I love this kid. Yes, she’s strong willed, but she is a funny girl. She is adventurous, silly, and loves her family. I’ve heard that strong willed children grow up to be leaders, and I have no doubt my Audrey will be a leader someday. But, until then, this momma has to survive the toddler years.
Here's how I'm doing it.
Don’t worry about you look like parenting.
I’ve heard lately that we need to focus on the relationship with our kids and not our reputations. For so long, I have worried that my child’s behavior was a negative reflection on my parenting. This is not so. We should put taking care of these strong little humans ahead of what we look like. So, if your child won’t hold your hand or sit in the cart at Target, focus on their safety and taking care of them more than if they fuss or cause a scene. We need to care more about them than we do about what others think of us.
Distract, distract, distract.
I use this tactic with my Audrey often. When she is mad about something or she doesn’t understand why things go a certain way, I use the power of distraction. She loves kitties and puppy dogs, so if she’s upset I usually start talking to her about them. We go over animal sounds or sing a silly song she likes. This usually works. You can distract toddlers with snacks and toys, too. But, these don’t usually work for Audrey.
I’ve discovered with Audrey that I need to get her more involved. She likes to help. She helps me unload the silverware in the dishwasher. She likes to put dry goods from the groceries away. If the dryer stops, she’s right there to help me. Strong-willed little ones often love to help! Sometimes they just need their power shifted in the right direction.
So, you can survive a strong-willed toddler. Will it be easy? No, probably not. I’m already thinking about all of the stops we have to do today and how Miss Audrey won’t be happy. But, I will focus on keeping her safe and happy and try to have fun with her. After all, one day she is going to rule the world.
Karyn Meyerhoff is a mom of three in Arkansas where she needs to let her strong-willed kiddo have some fun.