Saturday, June 2, 2007

Dealing with A Strong-Willed Child

By Van Walton

P.R.A.I.S.E. God for the strong-willed child, He has given you as a blessing from Him. Life with this child will never be boring. There will always be adventure built into every day! This is a child who wants to make decisions. (S)he will grow up to lead and make choices that will affect others' lives. In the hands of a Godly mother the strong-willed child will learn God's ways. We would all agree that the world desperately needs Godly men and women who aren't afraid to lead.

Pray daily for yourself and your child. God knew what He was doing when He handed your baby to you. Ask God for wisdom, strength, and endurance. Ask for protection. One way or another your child will be a leader. Pray that your Christian walk will be a transparent and credible one, one that your child will admire, respect and emulate.

Pray with your child. Pray at all times. Never let a day go by without bringing it to a close in conversation with each other and your heavenly Father. Get on your child's bed and talk about the day. Model a prayer using the ACTS guideline. You praise God and then let your child do the same. Then you confess your sins and, when finished, tell God that your child has some confessions to make. Let your child speak to God. Thank God, especially tell Him how grateful you are for your child because of his qualities. List and name your child's attributes and then ask God to hear your child's words of appreciation. Tell God that the two of you are going to pray for people you know and then take turns praying for friends, neighbors and family. Finally pray for yourselves. Intimate evening prayer is an activity that will take you into the teenage years and if never broken will be the most special memory you will ever construct. Don't miss it!

Remember that God gave this child to you and He has a purpose for both of you to grow closer to Him and develop deeper Christian character. Your role as a mother is to be a leader for your child. He is totally dependant on you for his well being and future success. Be strong yourself. Set guidelines and stick to them. Confidence and trust are built where there are clear and consistent boundaries in the home environment.

Remember that the work you do when your child is young will pay off when he is older. As he grows up he will want more and more independence. Good teenagers learned obedience at an early age.

Allow opportunities for her to exert herself. Be firm and consistent in the areas where you must be the final answer and do not give in. Pick and choose your battles. Try to say "yes" often. Responses that promote communication and patience are, "Yes you may, but later when…" "Would you let mommy think about it?" "Why do you want to do this?" "That sounds like a good (fun, adventurous, interesting, etc.) idea. Can I ask some questions first?" Learn to anticipate where your major battles erupt and discuss the potentially volatile circumstances before the problem occurs. For example before going to the grocery store remind, "You may choose one cereal and one snack. We will do your shopping first." This shows respect and trust in your child's decision. Remind your child that there are never purchases in the check-out lane. If that is where she wants to go first to pick her snack or treat then do that first.

A church service is often a place where a child chooses to assert herself. Bring along activities and take a bathroom break immediately before worship begins. If children can sit in school for an entire hour they can do so for a church service.

"No" means no. Once you have said "no," do not make it a practice of backing down. That is why it is very important to weigh your "no's" and say "yes" often.

Tell stories about strong-willed people and ask questions about their character, behavior, choices, affect on others, and appearance before God. Point out strong-willed people doing good and talk about it. Then point out strong-willed people making bad choices and discuss it.Don't forget to be loving, gentle, patient, and consistent.

Instruct him in God's ways. Daily prayer, devotionals, good reading and viewing materials all are tools that can be used to bring children up in the way they should go. Look around you and encourage your child to become aware of God's creation. Be willing to give praise to God when an opportunity presents itself. Be a model for your child. He will imitate your relationship with Jesus. Introduce your child to Christian activities like choir, dramatic productions, church sports leagues, AWANA. A child who knows the ways of God is more likely to make good decisions.

Select circumstances where your child can be a leader in the family. Questions you can ask are, "Can you give me directions to the store? What should we do today? Go to the park, library, movie rental store, or shop…How would you like to organize your room? You tell me and I will help you. When should we walk the dog? You set the timer, OK? What would Daddy like for dinner?"

Following through with your child's ideas are huge confidence builders which begin your child's march toward knowing how to make good decisions. If she doesn't choose well, tenderly question her, offering other solutions. Be willing to back off so they can learn from mistakes. Failure is a good teacher. Of course only allow failure in non, life- threatening circumstances. You always want your child to be safe and respectful.

Endear yourself to him. Love, hug, affirm, encourage, play, smile and laugh. Create fun in everyday activities. Stop at the park while running boring errands. Grab a milk shake on the way home from school. Make chores fun and rewarding. The strong-willed child does not want to be told what to do, so ask for help and be willing to work along side him.

Yes! You have a strong-willed child. Praise God, and praise your child!