The willful child. It's like living with a teen when they are little. They want what they want when they want it. They often show up most willful, e.g. demanding, assertive, out of control, emotional, physical or all of them at the same time, when they are in transition.
Getting ready in the morning.
Going to bed at night.
And most any transition in between.
The willful child is often loved by their teachers. Especially in elementary school. You go and speak with their teachers and you are proud, yet you wonder: why isn't this person living in my house?
The great thing about the willful child is that they can change the world when they are grown ups. They are tenacious and leaders.
It is this tenaciousness and desire for leadership that they feel now that makes the parenting of the willful child so challenging.
An antidote to this is allowing the small child the "false" sense of leadership. For example: giving two choices and allowing the child to decide. As simple as "do you want milk in the yellow cup or the blue mug?" They are going to have milk, but they get to feel like they are making an "executive decision" (the cup the milk comes in).
As they get older, the willful child can be given choices about where they want to do homework every day. Again, an example: Do you want to do your homework in the kitchen at the counter or at the table? Do you want to rest for 20 minutes before you start your homework or do you want to work now for 30 minutes and then take a break?
These kinds of options give the willful child a sense they are in control.
So the next time your willful child behaves in a way that causes you to feel like you are going to lose your mind:
Breathe in. Breathe out.
It's not what happens to me, but how I handle it.
I choose to handle my willful child with love and understanding that they are not being "bad or difficult" they are leaders and decision makers.
I choose to offer my willful child choices. Unless it is an emergency, I choose to always offer choices to my child.
In so doing, I am teaching my willful child to see that there are choices and how to make them. They have responsibilities, but they can choose how those responsibilities are met.
The values of love, compassion, understanding and peaceful parenting.