Friday, April 17, 2009

The Strong Willed Child

Dr. James Dobson wrote a book called the New Strong-willed child.  I was intrigued by the title because I have one child who is very strong-willed.  Well I wanted a taste of it so I just read the workbook.  Now I need to get the full book.  Just in the workbook I learned a lot.  There was some gems of wisdom in here for parents who are struggling with their children who want to live by their own rules.  
Who's in charge at your house?  Most children respect their teachers, scout leaders, a bus driver and yes their parents if they have the courage to take charge.  It seems that their are many parents who would rather be their child's friend then their parent.  I think it's important to love, respect and support your children but doesn't mean you will be your child's best friend. 
Dr. Dobson says in this book. "Proper, immediate response to willful defiance during childhood is required, for that rebellion can plant the seeds of future personal disaster.  The weed that grows from it may become a tangled briar patch during the troubled days of adolescence."  pg 2
I really liked this workbook because of the real life examples he gives and great ideas to remedy the problem.  He also asks thought provoking questions after each chapter The following are some questions he asked on a variety of topics.
When have you felt guilt, self-condemnation, or self-doubt in your parenting?
Why do many parents fear being firm with their children?
What can parents do proactively to defuse competition between children? Conversely, how might parents make matters worse?
When have you found it easier to reward the little rebel in your family because you feared the fuss he or she would raise?  How did this make your other children feel?

The chapter I thought I would focus on is "Shaping the Will" (Chapter 3).  
"Parents must begin shaping the will of the particularly aggressive child very early in life.  A child who behaves in ways that are disrespectful or harmful to himself or others often has a hidden motive.  Whether he recognizes it or not, he is usually seeking to verify the existence and stability of the boundaries"  There is a difference, however, between crushing the will of a child and teaching the child to rein it in for his or her own good.   pg 37  
He gives six principles to help parents shape the will of a child.
1.  Begin teaching respect for authority when children are very young.  
He gave the example of a pediatrician who said a mother of a six-month old baby who thought her baby had a fever.  The doctor replied, "did you take his temperature?"  "No" she said, "He won't let me insert the thermometer."  There is trouble ahead for this shaky mother.  There is even more danger for her son in the days ahead.  he will quickly sense her insecurity and step into the power vacuum she has created.  For there, it will be a wild ride all the way through adolescence." pg 39
Recently in General Conference I was picked with this statement by Maragaret S. Lifferth "My stake president has been a dear friend for over 30 years, and as friends, we have always called each other by our first names. But because he serves in a calling of priesthood leadership—in public and certainly in a Church setting—I make a conscious effort to refer to him as President Porter. Teaching our children and youth that it is appropriate to address our leaders as president, bishop, brother, and sister encourages respect and reverence. It also teaches the truth that leaders are called of God and have been given sacred responsibilities."  
Because of this reminder I am going to emphasising this with my kids to call their primary teachers and friends parents by their last name.  I think I have the hardest time with this because I always have the children call me by my first name.  So I'm going to try to introduce my self with my last name now.  This I think really helps the respect their elders and those who are "in charge."  
2.  Define the boundaries before they are enforced.
Before children are to be held accountable for a rule they need to know them.  Have a family meeting.  We like to reinforce family rules on Family Home Evening Night.  
3.  Distinguish between willful defiance and childish irresponsibility
Examples of childish irresponsibility-milk spilling because he is goofing around at the table, forgets to bring his bike in before it rains.  Accidents happen, patience and tolerance are in order. Mom or Dad might want to have the child help cleanup or even work to pay for the loss.  Sometimes it's best to simply ignore these kinds of incidents.  Willful defiance of parental authority is far different.  This occurs when a child shouts, "I will not!" or "You shut up!" or "You can't make me."  These behaviors represent a willful, haughty spirit and a determination to disobey.  In these cases a mild and appropriate spanking is the discipline of choice for a hot-tempered child between twenty months and ten years of age. pg 40
4.  Reassure and teach after the confrontation is over.
After a child has been disciplined, the child needs time to be loved and reassured.  These are the moments a child needs you to express your love for him and why you were disciplining him.  Christian families may want to pray with your child.  Asking for help and forgiveness.  pg 41
5.  Avoid impossible demands.
Never punish the child for wetting the bed involuntarily, not becoming potty trained by one year of age, or doing poorly in school when he or she is incapable of academic success.  Be reasonable in what you're asking.  pg 41
6.  Let love be your guide!
If you have a strong willed child (Dr Dobson's research showed that there are nearly three times as many strong-willed kids as those who are compliant) I would recommend reading this.  

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this posting - quite timely under our circumstances. :)


I appreciate your comments!