Soothing a strong-willed child



Some kids are more challenging than others

Some kids are more challenging than others


The term “strong-willed” can mean a lot of things. It can mean a child’s refusal to sit at the table, or their refusal, after repeated warnings, and even consequences, to clean up their room; or they shout and get violent when they don’t get their way, or they don’t talk at all, no response to questions. With the cabin fever-element of more families in enforced lockdown, parents working from home, kids learning online, such behaviors are more common than ever.

Once upon a time, the operative term for all of the above was “difficult.” Perhaps because of the inherent negative connotations of that word, we now have “spirited” and “strong-willed.”

Mom Angela Anagnost-Repke describes her daughter as a ‘strong-willed child.’ Every day feels like going into battle. According to her, the most constructive way to deal with “these explosive little souls,” is with gentleness. “Otherwise,” she writes, “your whole day is in ruins.”

READ MORE: Tantrums explained

She also advises nipping things in the bud. It is crucial to be proactive on the front end of a meltdown, rather than let it play out. She would know. She writes: “When I breathe, it allows my child to try to do the same thing, too. I wish I could say that I always had the patience... I don't. I often lose my temper and scold her too harshly in an attempt for a quick fix. However, that never works and often just sends the wheels catapulting off.”

Anagnost-Repke endeavors to check herself before engaging, to be mindful of the stress in her body. As simple as it may sound, breathing is of the utmost importance. It may take a while, but once a child’s fury plays out – during which time a parent can take numerous deep breaths – and their mind has calmed, the first thing to do is to calmly acknowledge the child’s feelings, whatever they are, as valid. And then to acknowledge the parent’s feelings as valid. And proceed with calm, with more notes on how to handle the next storm.



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