LOOKING FOR ADVICE ON WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU HAVE A STRONG WILLED CHILD? THEN YOU HAVE COME TO THE RIGHT PLACE!
So I guess I should preface this post by saying I have not one but two feisty, strong-willed kids.
By feisty I mean: confident, outgoing kids who like to speak their mind and aren’t afraid to question things.
AND NO, I WASN’T A FEISTY KID MYSELF
I am not even sure how it happened, given that I was such a quiet, obedient child, who liked to follow the rules. I never dared to speak back; indeed I never even dared to SPEAK UP. I did pretty much whatever my parents asked me to, like a dutiful sheep following the guidance of its shepherd.
Looking back, I’m sure it was a shock to my parent’s system to raise my two younger, feistier sisters after me, because pushing boundaries was definitely not my thing. But as I grew older, I found my groove, gained my confidence and finally embraced stepping outside my comfort zone.
SO WHEN IT WAS MY TURN TO BE A MOM, I DIDN’T KNOW WHAT TO EXPECT.
One thing you do learn pretty quickly as a parent however is how nature is potentially more powerful than nurture. Without a doubt, each baby comes hard-wired with their own unique personality, and sometimes there’s very little you can do about it.
Some infants are naturally shy while others are naturally outgoing. Some trust people while others are more cautious. And nope, it doesn’t always mirror or match their parent’s personality either.
Along the way I have learned that parenting feisty kids requires a different mindset and slightly different tactics than when parenting a typical meek and mild child.
HERE ARE THE TOP FIVE LESSONS I HAVE DISCOVERED FROM PARENTING TWO FEISTY KIDS.
1 – FEISTY KIDS SHOULD NOT AUTOMATICALLY BE CONSIDERED NAUGHTY
Think this is a silly lesson to learn? Well this fact isn’t always obvious to the parents of the quieter kids. Don’t worry – I’m familiar with the stares from some of the more judgmental moms, whose kids don’t say peep.
They think because your kid is loud, slightly crazy or tends to be involved in the thick of whatever is going on, that they must be NAUGHTY.
Sigh. I guess I should make it clear that I really dislike that word! Sure, if your child is specifically misbehaving, then say they are misbehaving and note the action so they can correct it.
However – and I’m noting this for all the moms who like to point their “non-dirty” fingers – focus on the ACTION itself and not the general temperament of the child.
For the record a person can be loud AND kind or confident AND compassionate. In fact you can have a kid who is feisty AND at the very same time, respectful, honest, loyal, caring, ANY OR EVEN ALL OF THE ABOVE.
That doesn’t mean your child is perfect. Let’s be honest – every child needs to be pulled up on things time to time. And if your kid is doing something wrong, then cool, it’s easy enough to rein them in for that and steer them in the right direction.
But don’t automatically give a broad negative label to any feisty kid because they are a little more confident or opinionated than you are used to. NEWS ALERT: Quiet, mellow kids have just as much potential to be rude and badly behaved as anyone else.
2- IT’S IMPORTANT TO SEE THEIR CONFIDENCE AS A GIFT
Maybe it’s because I wasn’t super confident as a kid that I’m in awe of anyone who is secure in themselves. Me personally, I think it’s an incredible achievement when a parent raises a kid who is comfortable in their skin – someone who isn’t afraid to stand up to others and question things.
Their confidence will come in handy later on in life when they need to stand up for themselves and others; it will also buffer them to some extent from bullying and a negative peer group (which can be devastating for those kids with more fragile personalities). If I could bottle up the confidence of feisty kids and adults, I think I would be a multi-millionaire.
3 – FEISTY KIDS WILL PUSH YOUR BUTTONS SO PATIENCE AND DEEP BREATHS ARE REQUIRED
Yep. It will sometimes be hard. Before you have kids, you wonder what all the fuss is about. Surely raising kids can’t be that difficult if they just do everything you ask them to and agree with everything you say, right?
Um…wrong. If there is one thing you need to accept right now about feisty kids it’s this: they are not puppets. They won’t nod their heads simply because you asked them too. They won’t jump or say how high if every other kid is jumping off a bridge.
To the contrary, they will question you when you say something they don’t agree with. They will point out when things are unfair or uncalled or you can’t back up an argument you are making.
This behavior will at times make you seethe and fume. You will need to take deep breaths, especially when you realize they are 100% right.
If you missed my recent post on TOP TED TALKS FOR MOMS you need to stop right now and watch the clip by Kris Prochaska on How to Get Your Kids to Listen and Engage. After watching this, you will never again feel annoyed about having a more highly-spirited kid.
Kris questions how we treat our children and asks: “What if you saw your child as equal to you in their capacity for creativity, intuition and intelligence even if it is not yet fully formed. This is one video you really need to see as words cannot fully describe how powerful this clip is. It will make you super proud to be a parent of a feisty child but…
4- YOU NEED TO JUST CHANNEL THEIR HIGH ENERGY TO THE RIGHT PLACES
Feisty kids can easily be led astray if you aren’t careful. They are strong individuals who need to learn to use their confidence for good.
You can do this by teaching them that while it is totally fine to have their own opinion they need to learn to express it respectfully. It is also fine for them to question things if they learn to take other people’s thoughts and feelings into consideration.
Life is a two-way street and you can only grow as an individual when you learn to live harmoniously with others, despite people’s differences.
5 – FEISTY KIDS ARE BORN LEADERS AND WILL SUCCEED IN LIFE WHEN THIS CONFIDENCE AND THEIR LEADERSHIP SKILLS ARE NURTURED WELL
The world is full of kids who are always looking to others for validation. So when you have a child who is confident and feisty enough without seeking that validation for their self-worth from others you have hit the jackpot.
All you need to do is steer your child in the right direction. Don’t try to kill that special spirit of theirs because you secretly feel like they need to be more compliant. Before you know it, they will be adults, getting ready to make their mark on the world and they will need as much confidence as possible to protect them from heartbreak, disappointment and frustration on that trip through life.
So please don’t let anyone convince you that your child needs to totally change their bright and feisty personality because it doesn’t fit into a cookie cutter box.
Why? 1) Because it’s impossible and 2) Feisty kids are definitely not born to fit into any box.
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