Family Friday: Raising a Strong-Willed Child

Second Friday of the month:  Parenting / Kids

Fierce, willful, inquisitive, temperamental, street-smart. These are just some of the words to describe our daughter. She's a toughie, a complete opposite of her brother (that's a whole different story). She can be sweet one moment, then play hardball the next. Sugar and spice, that's her. Is there a right way to parent a strong-willed child?

M is our spunky girl. She's independent, creative, playful, opinionated. She can be very persistent and stubborn too. Ang hirap timplahin minsan. Everyday, we get into a situation where she will challenge us, day and night, there will always be an issue to process, to argue about or to negotiate. There are a lot of "NO" in the convo. It can stem from anywhere -- meal times to organizing her toys, bath time and sleeping hours, wanting to buy something, even to combing her hair and wi-fi disconnections! There will be days when she will throw a fit, become rude and unreasonable (even in public!) that it will really test our patience. Parenting nightmare, I know! Horror, diba? I feel so helpless, embarrassed. I feel judged.

At some point, I resorted to spanking and locking her in a room as punishment. I didn't like it, and I was shaking in anger while I forced her in to the room. I also cried many times out of frustration, not knowing how to get through to her. Patigasan talaga kami. I dreaded the teenage years.

During some meltdowns, she would cry hysterically and starts hyperventilating (happening now as I type this --  may issue tonight!!!). She's really pushing and testing our patience. We learned to just ignore her and allow her to calm down (even if it takes an hour) on her own before sitting her down for a talk.

Before, I used to shout and nag out of impulse. We clash...a lot! I know that it's not the solution. It's not an effective way to calm her down and manage the situation. Minsan, give up nako. Most of the time, I let J handle her. Still a trial and error on finding the best way to approach her temperament and tantrums. It's sooo exhausting. We are hopeful that this is just a stage.

I hate to say it, but I think she feels entitled and is turning into a brat. =(  She knows it, but matigas talaga siya. It really bothers me, and I feel that we failed her.

Talking with J and my friends, and reading up on related parenting articles help me a lot. I also learn so much from coach Pia Acevedo of the One Core every time I attend a Better Me session on parenting. The last one was several weeks ago and here's what coach Pia has to say, and my take-away from the open forum in relation to my parenting woes:
  • People make the right decisions that they can make in a given time in their life. Don't apologize for the decisions you made.
    • I know we've made mistakes that led to where we are now with our children. Not sure when or what, but we can only move forward and try to make better decisions this time around. Ang hirap! Parenting is a work in progress.
  • Everyone has their own process. Tantrums are kids' process, but it's the parents' responsibility to create a safe environment and acknowledge their feelings (ask them to communicate their feelings)
    • The magic word -- process. Each one of us has our own process, our own way of dealing with every situation. It's just so hard to ignore when they become disrespectful during their process. But kailangan palampasin muna yung moment na yun, and then talk it out afterwards. I need to be more conscious and to recognize that in both my kids, especially with my girl. Good thing the boy and the girl know how to express and verbalize what they feel so we can understand and find a way to address them.
  • Parents should have a strong core for kids to follow -- present certitude to help kids find what they are good at
    • It's not going to be easy, but I know I need to better myself first to be able to nurture my kids and raise them well. I owe it to them and to my husband.
As the saying goes, the struggle is real! Minsan, hindi ko na talaga alam ang gagawin. We resorted to threats and punishments as the easy way out. There are moments of self-doubt and guilt. Then I came across this article last month - 8 Truths Of Parents Who Are Raising A Strong-Willed Child from Scary Mommy blog, and it hit home. I've embraced the good and the not-so-good sides to her character. You'll understand me more after you read it.

Don't get me wrong, she has more positive attributes than negative, and we are so blessed to have a daughter like her. M is a smart cookie. She's well-loved in school, mature for her age, and she's feisty. A well-rounded individual, self-motivated, and a critical-thinker. Etong issue lang talaga ang super mega challenging for us. Stressful! At 9 years old, she knows what she wants, and she knows what she's doing. We love her for that. We're still trying to figure her out, to get to know her better and how to approach her episodes the right way. I know she will eventually grow out of this "difficult" phase and that being strong-willed is a key to her future success. We're here to help her learn to be more mindful, to manage her emotions and, ultimately, find her joy.

Do you have a strong-willed child? How do you "deal" with them?

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