The spirited child—often called "difficult" or "strong-willed"—can easily overwhelm parents, leaving them feeling frustrated and inadequate.Spirited kids are, in fact, simply "more"—by temperament, they are more intense, sensitive, perceptive, persistent, and uncomfortable with change than the average child.
That's the tag line for Mary Sheedy Kurcinkas book Raising Your Spirited Child
and no, I'm not going to talk about the book, because I haven't read it. But the tag line sounds familiar.
I used to have one of those. A spirited child. Or strong-willed as I called her.
Can you say power-struggles? Years of arguing over that one dress she wanted to wear everyday, come rain, shine or freezing cold! Can you say temper tantrums? Or will of steel?
I can't count the times I came to get her after school, and found her outside without jacket, shoes or socks??? And the teachers just: She refuses to wear them, it seems like she's never cold.
Or that time, when she was just 6 years old, and ran away from ... you guessed it ... school - with a friend, had a walkabout through the entire capital of Norway - in her bare feet, and ended up being written about in the news paper, with the police and school security involved and so on!
There are more stories like these, I just suppressed them.
Needless to day, I was dreading the mean teen years.
I had heard, and read - that teenage girls are the worst. At least to their mothers.
Because adolescent girls often feel torn between wanting to remain close to their mothers and wanting to separate. They can declare war on us.
"Tteenage girls can have a very difficult time acknowledging, much less dealing with their anger and other strong emotions, and we are their safest and most available targets. Also moms so often feel that if they deal with the anger, and heaven forbid, they should have some of those same feelings toward their daughter, that they're being 'unmaternal' or not a good mother" Dr. Cohen-Sandler
But to my surprise, life got easier the older my daughter became.
I'm not going to toot my own horn, because the teen years are not over by far - but fighting is a rare thing. She is more forgetful than anything else. I still have to ask about that jacket which was left behind at school - again. Or remind her to brush her teeth, and PLEASE close the cap on the milk bottle properly! That last one still needs a reminder once a day. Hmn... But very little fighting. If I'm excluding that tiny black leather shorts she bought for her own money, and think is very appropriate to wear at school. I would rather see her not wearing that one for a couple of more years, or 6!!!
I'm not sure what changed along the way. Maybe things did because I started having more routines and consequences? Or maybe she just changed all on her own. Maybe I did too, in some way. But one thing I do know, and that is:
Conversations are golden.
We talk a lot. We talk about what it means to be a good person. Or daughter. Or mother. How do we, and should we treat people around us? And she is allowed to be mad, angry, happy and everything between. But how is she, and we all dealing with anger? I say: Just don't be rude! Or say hurtful things! And if you do slip up:
Say you're sorry!
I have slipped up, said things I didn't mean. Or did mean, in just that spilt second, but still wasn't nice to say. And I felt like the worst mother ever. And I said I was sorry, it wasn't her fault.
It was me, not controlling my anger. Say you're sorry!!! They'll get it, and maybe even say it back.
Our toddlers and teens are not little monsters. Just tiny humans, who have a more difficult time controlling their temper than we do.
And for those of you with spirited child's, you've heard it before and I'm saying it again, because I really think it's true:
"Have a strong-willed child? You're lucky! Strong willed children can be a challenge to parents when they’re young, but if sensitively parented, they become terrific teens and young adults. Self-motivated and inner-directed, they go after what they want and are almost impervious to peer pressure. As long as parents resist the impulse to "break their will," strong-willed kids often become leaders" Dr. Laura Markham