Strong Minded Child

Updated on July 26, 2008
S.M. asks from Gilbert, AZ
35 answers

I need HELP! I have a 15 month old little terror.She is my first child. She is sweet, affectionate, fun but STRONG WILLED. I know that she's still young and can't communicate completely and take this into consideration. My problem is she is so young yet sooo Strong willed. When trying to discipline her, I firmly hold her hands or face and sternly say NO to whatever she is doing that is wrong. She understands she shouldn't do things because when I say her name she'll stop. I say No and she yells or screams back at me. She slaps at me or throws her self down. Funny because she never hits me just hits at me. I thought this would happen later why so early with me? My friends are older and say their kids NEVER did that or were disrespectful. I ask 'What I'm doing wrong and what they did right?" but they have no answers. I can't understand how to fix this type of behavior. I need suggestions or advice from a neutral party. I feel like a bad mom around my girlfriends..

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So What Happened?

Just an update for everyone out there who was nice enough to offer me great advice. I purchased the book many of you recommended, The Strong WIlled Child, by James Dobson. I've only got into this book a couple chapters and have already been encouraged. He brings light to alot of the frustrations I've had and even talked about "friends who make unsolicited comments about my child's behavior." After all the comments received, I felt so much better. I didn't feel as alone in this situation or like my child is an isolated case. I am hopeful and encouraged that we will make it through this stage with the victory...Thank you again for caring enough to offer words of kindness and encouragement.

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M.B.

answers from Phoenix on

I am a first time mother too, but my little one is only 3 months old. Therefore, I haven't got the experience of parenting my own child, but I was a school teacher and like to think I had to use many parenting "tricks" to manage the classroom. I highly recommend that you buy this book: "Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood." I am a strong believer in this parenting and teaching philosophy. It's all about putting responsibility on the kids and giving them power over their choices. Good luck!

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M.O.

answers from Phoenix on

My daughter did the same thing at that age and she is now 2 and no longer does it-I would hold her hands staight out so she couldnt hit and say no hitting-she did not like it but it worked-and stay consistant with it-good luck-

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P.D.

answers from Phoenix on

You are not a bad mom at all! Mine was the same way, she seemed to hit the terrible two's at 15 months. Here's what I did and it made the biggest difference in the world: Kids cannot verbalize what they are feeling so I started teaching her sign language. Start with the Baby Einstein videos with "hungry" and "thirsty" then move on from there. She is trying to set boundries with you and so far she is in control. When she throws a fit, in a calm voice call her over to you and hold her, wrap her in a soft blanket and make her have eye contact with you. Rock her, rub good smelling lotion on any of her "owies" (make her show you where they are, even if you don't see them put the lotion on anyway). You have to regain control over her activities in a way that she doesn't even know you're doing it. She could have been exposed to a traumatic event, she may just be strong willed (which stinks right now but we want our girls to be strong in life). The most important thing is that you stay in control of your emotions. I had to give myself time outs many times and go outside to cool down, but my these activities have really helped me regain my place as an authority figure. Play bubbles with her, do whatever, as long as YOU initiate the activity. It is a process but in time this will help you during her 2's and 3's too. Try to think of an alternative to the words that set her off. Take 2 paper plates and make a happy face and a sad face and try to get her to point out how she is feeling, you can add more emotions as she gets older. This helps her identify and communicate her emotions. If you need any more advice don't hesitate to email me at [email protected]____.com I have definitely been in your shoes and would love to help if I could. Good luck, you aren't alone and you are not a bad mother!

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V.C.

answers from Albuquerque on

Hey - I have a strong-willed terror of a child too! I adore her, but she sure does wear me out. She just turned three, and while she still has her own opinion about the way things should be, she has also developed a lot of ability to accept it when things don't go the way she wants. It's been a process. It started about the age your daughter is now - and my girl didn't mind hitting me. I took it as a message that she needed to hit, so I let her hit - I brought my daughter to her bed, and we hit the pillows together. She LOVED it! All the while I told her things like "Oh you are SO mad!". Eventually she would grab a pillow herself when she was upset, start hitting it, and say "I'm SO mad!". Now she just says "I'm SO mad!". Once she gets all that mad energy out, she generally is in a great mood. THEN we can talk about what happened, and how she could do things differently next time.

A great book for general communication with kids is "How to talk so kids will listen, and listen so kids will talk" Such great ideas about how to communicate with kids.

Kids have strong feelings, and they need to learn how to express them, Any way you can support and channel that expression into an acceptable outlet is the way to go. Yes, it can be embarrassing when you are out on public, and your little cherub reveals her little demon side. These things happen. We graciously stepped out of many a playgroup in our day. However, many of those play groups left me feeling like a bad mom, and it was just no fun to get that kind of feeling from a group that was supposed to be enjoyable.

Find your own way, and help your girl find hers. I would often comfort myself thinking about what would happen to a sinister character who tried to kidnap my daughter. She would probably kick his ***! So, there is an upside to being a determined, vocal, stubborn girl in this world!

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T.L.

answers from Phoenix on

My son was the same way, and at almost 3 now we still have a hard time with him. Her personality won't change, but like some others have said The strong willed child by James Dobson is helping us relate with our son better. It's a great book!

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B.F.

answers from Tucson on

Please read the book Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn you can check it out from the library. It will change your life and your daughter will thank you.

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R.J.

answers from Phoenix on

Sweetheart, if your friends are making you feel like a bad mom for having a strong-willed child, you have the wrong friends.

Strong-willed children assert themselves from infancy. I was one, and now I have one. Many of my friends don't struggle with the type of things I do, but they struggle. And they've all encountered some kind of disrespect from their little angels. And if they told me they didn't, I'd either chastise them for lying or go out and buy the drugs they take.

My little guy is eight now, and we have gone through an unbelievable amount of insanity in such a short lifetime. We literally could not take him in public from age 3 to age 4.5. I thought we were the most pathetic parents. And the truth is, we were pretty inexperienced and sometimes downright clueless, and I felt just miserable about it. After all, a mom is supposed to just know what to do, isn't she? It wasn't until I let go of this fallacy and all the guilt and focused on a solution - or two...or twenty - that we finally started to make progress as a family. And this is a whole family issue. The big picture is so important here, S.. It helps us stay consistent and optimistic. A VITAL piece of advice would be to stay unemotional when you discipline (and yes, they still need some "mini" discipline at this age). There's nothing a child feeds on more than an emotional parent.

Now, I don't mean to freak you out here, honey. Your daughter is just a baby. There's no reason to believe you'll go round and round with her for years like I have with my son. But you certainly have a windier road than your friends, who apparently have much more compliant children. One of the greatest helps on my journey has been Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family. His work: The Strong-Willed Child, Dare to Discipline, and Parenting Is Not For Cowards. They're all excellent. He's informative, direct and encouraging and he speaks from so much experience and wisdom. I'm sure these can be found at your local library. Personally, I needed copies I could keep! lol

I hope this helps at least a bit, S.. All the best to you and your little gal. Keep loving, learning and teaching. You're doing just fine. :)

~ R.

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C.K.

answers from Tucson on

Aren't toddlers great? UGH! Having raised four, I know that they make you feel like you are losing your mind sometimes. I found a couple of things helpful:

A book called, "The Strong Willed Child" and The Happiest Toddler on the Block DVD by Dr. Harvey Karp. You can find titles at www.amazon.com under search "strong willed child."

It is key that you set boundaries right now, early on in toddlerhood. I know that the DVD is excellent, and it really helps explain how kids that age become frustrated, and how we can prevent outbursts before they happen, and difuse them when they do.

Rememeber to get time out for yourself, so you can take an emotional break!

Best,
C.

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M.L.

answers from Phoenix on

Sounds like a tantrum to me. My very independent daughter threw herself on the floor in protest for the first time when she was about 15 months as well. My response? I said, "don't hurt yourself throwing that tantrum" and continuing carrying in the groceries. Don't worry about being a bad Mom, all kids throw tantrums, you just can't give in to them or they will never stop. I have found that a solid routine helps prevent them. She needs the security and the feeling of control she gets from knowing whats coming next. Transitions, like "okay 15 more minutes to play and then it's time for....", or singing the munch a bunch of lunch song (I made it up)when it's time to eat, and letting her do for herself. She always wanted to click herself in, at first it took forever for her to get the belts clicked, now she's a lot quicker and actually it helps out. also, if she is not using a lot of words yet, try teaching her some sign language. It seems to be helping with my son, now 15 months.

also, hugs, when the tantrums get really bad it's just because they can't process what they are feeling. Giving my daughter a hug and telling her I love her works wonders.

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N.H.

answers from Tucson on

Hi there. I am a SAHM of four. My youngest is 20 months.
Based on my experience, what your baby is going through is very normal. She is at that stage where she is just trying to gain some control in her own world and when that independence is challenged its very frustrating for her and she lashes out. What works for me is being very calm and instead of saying NO I turn her attention to things she CAN do. Babies at this age dont always understand as much as we might think. She is responding to your tone and to her name, but she probably does not understand exactly what it is you are angry about. When my daughter lashes out, I say be nice, and I gently rub her faceor arm. It takes a little while, but now when she starts to get mad, she stops and says BE NICE... She has learned from me repeating the words and actions and responds much better than if i raise my voice at her. Believe me, she is a very strong willed little girl as well, and it just takes some patience. Maybe just try to focus on not saying NO throughout the day and turn her attention by saying in an excited voice, lets do this instead!! And try the be nice thing. Toddlers respond much better when thier independence isnt being challenged. Good luck and hang in there!

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I.O.

answers from Las Cruces on

I'm fairly sure you will get this recommendation from others, but there is a show on TV called Suppernanny and it is great. It shows all the info how to encourage good behavior and discipline bad behavior. Each show has a particular family showcased and deals with each child's personality and how to deal with it. The Supernanny has wonderful family activities to help each member come together in respect and love for each other. My most important initial recommendation is to recognize you are the parent, and use your authority to lead this child. My oldest is 37. Wish I knew this stuff then! I'm praying for you!!!

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N.W.

answers from Phoenix on

My daughter is EXACTLY the same. She is incredibly willful and I have found that if I stay calm and stern she calms down quicker than when I yell. Also, at about 18 months we started using time-outs. Of course she would not sit still so we (still) use her booster to keep her strapped to the chair. We calmly tell her that yelling (or hitting or other specific behavior) is not acceptable and that she needs to take a time out to calm herself down. Now there are certain situations that get her an automatic time out--no warnings--and it is finally starting to sink in. Don't expect anything to work right away. We have been persistent and vigilant for MONTHS and are only recently beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I don't know how to deal with the friends thing--the only thing I can say is you are not a bad mom. In fact your nurturing is what gives your child the self confidence to be assertive and someday that will serve her well. In the meantime, just remember that you are a good mom and your daughter is a good child, she just needs all of that energy harnessed. I've also found that the busier I keep my daughter the better behaved she is. I give her tasks to "help" me and I've found that she likes to be needed. Of course it takes me a little longer to do everything, but giving her little tasks or projects keeps her from getting bored and frustrated.
Good luck and best wishes!

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H.A.

answers from Phoenix on

Ok, my son was very similar....he wouldn't stay in time out and threw huge fits. Finally I got so upset that I decided that he would stay in his room until he was done with his fit. I felt like a horrible mom doing what I did but it worked. We turned the lock on his room. I would calmly explain what was going to happen if he didn't stop a behavior, and then what was now happening because he didn't stop. I actually only had to put him in his room once with the door locked. He was very angry and threw toys at the door but after that I only had to threaten being in his room and he would stop. I think for him it was about controlling me. Once I put him in his room and walked away, he didn't have the control he wanted and he stopped the behavior. When this went down, he was about 2 and a half (a little older than you daughter), but he was doing the same behavior at her age. Maybe if you try this now, she will get over it sooner. Just remember, you are not a bad mom and try not to feel guilty. But I warn you, you will cry and feel horrible, but it will pass. BTW, my son is now 9 and still strong willed but not out of control. He has manners and a temper but we have a good, healthy balance. I think that is because I showed him early on that he MUST respect me. Good luck!

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D.W.

answers from Albuquerque on

Parenting with Love and Logic is a great book that helps with all types of discipline issues. Though I agree that your daughter is young and is probably acting out more out of lack of vocabulary - this book will still be a great help for you to learn techniques for dealing with discipline. It is written by Foster Cline and Jim Fay and it even has a reference area in the back for specific behavior or issues.

Best to you!

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T.R.

answers from Phoenix on

All kids are different and we all parent different. You don't know what happens behind your friend's closed doors and vise versa. You need to concentrate on you and your child and do not let your friends dictate you. That said, I would highly recommend Dr. James Dobson's "Strong Willed Child." All of his books are fantastic with great information and advice. And he was just inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame (over Howard Stern!). Also, sometimes there are medical reasons for your child's conduct. They don't know how to express themselves, and sometimes when things are going haywire inside, it shows in their behaviors. First, try Dr. Dobson, then when all else fails, talk with your pediatrician. Best of luck to you.

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K.B.

answers from Phoenix on

Hi S. first let me say you are definatly not a bad mom. All children have different temperments. As for the strong willed child I can identify my daughter is now 7 and still as strong willed as ever. My advice consistancy, consistancy and consistancy with the disipline. Also pick your battles because you dont want to break her spirit. Try to see if your having a battle because of a control issue or is she really doing something wrong. I believe that the strong willed behavior will be to her advantage later in life she will be able to do anything she sets her mind to. I have found now I after I have taught my daughter to communicate with words and express how and why she is feeling or doing something has really helped me in handling her stubborn strong willed behavior. I myself am strong willed and wonder if we just were both seeking control. Dont acknowledge the temper tantrums and check out the show Super Nanny she has great advice. Hang in there mom it gets better!

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D.K.

answers from Tucson on

Yes, a 15 month CAN be strong willed. Start working now, and you will have fewer issues when this 15 month old is two, three, four years through teen years.

I am a "Mom's Class" vet (Tucson area, Barb Tompkins--I know some of you are on here with me), and it has sure helped with my children. :)

If there isn't something like it in your area, start reading any parenting book by Dr. Kevin Leman. HE points out the very young can learn. One of his books was already recommended. I am currently reading his latest book, "Have a New Kid by Friday". Oh is it good!

~D.

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M.J.

answers from Tucson on

Read the Strong Willed Child by Dr. Dobson. Great book.

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C.M.

answers from Phoenix on

I completely understand!!! You are not alone. I have an 18 month old who seems to be very strong willed every since she came out of the womb. Go Figure!!!! I also have a 3 1/2 yr old (both girls) that is for the most part very calm.
I asked the doctor because she is throwing tantrums, and I thought that didn't start until 2 or 3. The doctor told me that it was just "her" temperament, and that she will be a strong willed child for the most part. It is just the way she is built. Of course I wasn't the happiest camper in the world, but it truly is amazing how different each child is. No two are alike even if they are from the same parents. I asked the doctor if it was something I was doing to "promote" this behavior. She said it was just her genetic makeup. With that said, and probably no help to you at all!!!! Here is my two cents......Your child is the way she is because God made her that way....for whatever reasons, only he knows. Remember, she still is very young, and until she can communicate it is just as frustrating to her as it is too you. If you feel she truly understands you, then maybe try a time out session. She might not sit there for very long, but it changes things up for her, and moves her away from the "scene of the crime." Also, if she throws herself on the floor, don't give in and try and pick her up. Don't give her the attention that she wants, because that is all it is......"I'm not getting my way mommy!!!!" Just let her throw her tantrum, and don't pay attention to it. I think you are doing everything right. Please don't compare yourself to your friends or their kids. That will just leave you feeling depressed, and your daughter will pick up on it. You are not a bad mom!!! When you are around your friends and she starts acting up, excuse yourself, and do your discipline in a different room. Also, don't act like it is a big deal or that your child is a nuance in front of your friends. Your daughter will pick up on everything.....eventually...if not already. I hope this helps.....Just know, You are not alone!!!

God Bless, C.

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M.E.

answers from Anchorage on

Hi S. -

Don't let your friends dictate how you relate with your daughter. At 15 months, she is testing her boundries. One of 2 things will happen at this point, you will "break" her spirit and she will become a shy little mouse - or - you can sit down with her - eye to eye - and ask her why she is behaving the way she is. I know you are thinking - she's too young to understand - but believe me, she is not. From birth to about age 5, children are little sponges. They absorb and give back everything they see, hear and feel around them. I would guess that you are a strong willed person also....??? Be proud that your daughter got this from you. Just teach her how to direct it - slowly but surely, you will see a vast improvement.

Blessings,
M. M. Ernsberger
Holistic Healthcare Practitioner

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M.P.

answers from Phoenix on

S.,
First, you are not a bad M.!!! You have a child that you desire to have good behavior and a good up-bringing. Even though your daughter is 15 months, it might be wise to start time out when she displays the unwanted behavior. You would put a small chair, piece of carpet or even an old placemat to be designated as the "thinking spot." Her time out would be in a very boring place and you might need to keep her their but not be talking or interacting with her for her full minute in the "thinking spot." Describe unwanted behavior first so she will know what will send her to the "thinking spot." Also explain to her other ways to communicate her displeasure other than hitting at you. Role play some of this out so she can "live" it: the correct behavior and the praise that comes with it and the unwanted behavior with the time out that comes with that choice. Consistency is huge here. Also you don't yell when disciplining your child. You get on your knees and stay in control of your emotions. I say you but I mean any adult! When you are on your knees, you are at her level and can speak to her calmly but firmly and are ready to give out hugs, too. After time out, always go over why she ended up there so she'll completely understand and learn from it and have her say she is sorry. Then hugs all around!!! Another idea is to use a chart system with proper behavior listed or drawn out for her. Everytime she does some positive behavior ( a good choice ) you have her put a gold star or sticker by that behavior and praise, praise, praise her. When a little older, the stickers can be tallied up and she gets some kind of a special reward that you have already talked about together. Good luck and God bless you. S.R.P.

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E.M.

answers from Phoenix on

I agree, that sign language is a good tool for the newly and pre-verbal child! You don't even have to buy a book or take a class...just use your own signs...esp if you stay-at-home.

Please do not let your friends reactions and opinions affect your choices in how you look at and work with your daughter! It is very counter productive. If you have to break off socializing, do it.
My daughter is 2 and will slap at me from time to time....you must remember that little ones are impulsive. Getting a handle on that takes a long time and is far from complete, even for adults. We have our adrenaline rushes and say and do things we shouldn't.
Children can not really see themselves, their feelings and actions as separate things. We have been taught to do look at them that way, but they are simply experiencing the world and relationships. I am not so sure that even older children understand that we disapprove of their actions and Not Them. For this reason, I am a follower of more gentle analytical, negotiative discipline methods. I do not know all the associations being formed in my daughter's head...therefore act with compassion and caution.
I encourage you to treat your child as a whole, not an odd collection of behaviors (as so many experts look at kids) One of my favorites is Gordon Neufeld..who talks about "counterwill" a very real human phenomenon. A good one, or kids would follow the directions of strangers...but bad, in that it leads to resistance with familiar adults and nagging. His book is at the library...or his DVD is online...worth every penny.
I encourage you also not to label your child anything...("spirited" ) It can have unintended consequences for you, her, and others. Let her label herself, as an adult, if she desires.

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A.

answers from Albuquerque on

I really think 15 months is too young to be purposely disrespectful. She is not sure how to communicate at this stage. Like you said, she's not trying to hit you. She's wanting to show you she's frustrated. She sounds completely normal to me. I HIGHLY suggested teaching her some signs. Signing kids have a tool of communication beyond hitting the air and screaming. Go to http://www.sign2me.com for a list of qualified instructors in your area. They are also well versed in many typical toddler situations and what signs and strategies might work for you. Good luck!

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A.S.

answers from Phoenix on

Hey S.,

Well, I guess the first thing I want to say is that your friends' children are complete anomalies, and their parents just lucked out, if what they are telling you is indeed true. I'd say, in the long run, you're the lucky one, though, because if you can channel your daughter's energy in the right way she's gonna be an assertive, confident person capable of making her own decisions. She'll be a leader, able to think for herself, not a follower who looks to someone else to tell her what to do all the time. I know whereof I speak. Both of my kids are strong-willed, and I wouldn't have it any other way. So, looking to your friends for advice is the wrong thing to do, because their little darlings aren't like yours. You don't want to squelch your daughter's spirit by "controlling" her behavior too much. What to do? Well, I'd go into observation mode with your daughter. I'd stop saying no and I'd talk to her in complete sentences about what you want her to do and why. No obviously doesn't work for your child. Didn't work for mine, either. This doesn't mean you don't guide her in the right direction, it just means you need to communicate with her, not to her. I have a feeling that your daughter is an intelligent little being, so you can talk to her calmly and rationally. When she misbehaves, instead of going straight into discipline mode, pick her up and talk to her calmly and lovingly. Speak in the positive as much as you can, demonstrating to her what you want her to do. Tell her what to do, not what NOT to do. If she's doing something you wish she wouldn't, ask her why. She's probably pre-verbal, so she can't answer you, but you can provide some reasons to her yourself. Give her lots of hugs and kisses, even when she's not doing what you want her to do. When she hits at you, say something like "Oh, that hurts mommy's feelings. How about nice touches?" Then, take her hand gently and guide it to your face, showing her what nice touches are. If she balks at you taking her hand, use your hand to give her a nice touch. I know there are going to be moms that urge you to "take control." But, S., you ARE in control. How you choose to use that control is the key, here. Sometimes you have to say no, but most of the time you can get what you want without using that word. I'd use no in emergencies-when she's going to hurt herself or someone else. She obviously doesn't respond well to it, anyway. I disagree strongly with isolating your child when she's having a tantrum. If you need to put her in her room for a minute to catch your breath, then that's fine. However, I wouldn't wait for her to stop crying before I went back to her. There's no need to get in a power struggle-you want to empower her, not "break her." You don't have anything to prove to your girlfriends or anyone else. Speak from a place of love and kindness. Trust your instincts and center yourself before you approach your girl. There's my more than two cents.

Take care,

A.

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E.D.

answers from Tucson on

every child is different- truly. there could be some things you could improve, but ultimately your daughter is herself- stop balming yourself, and i promise you that there are a million parents out there with kids like yours. a few book suggestions: love and logic (this is a discipline program, which is VERY effective, i use it, and when i'm consistent, it works like magic, although when you first implement it, it may take a couple of weeks of consistency before your child starts to respond. this got us out of a really bad time with one of my sons when he was 4). the idea is allowing natural consequences, and providing logical consequences, instead of punishments. it requires you to have no emotion while providing the consequences (that's the hard part). second, read "parenting the spirited child" (i think that's the title-) it really helps understand how to change how you think about your child. for instance, being strong willed or stubborn is considered a negative thing, but if you change your perspective, being steadfast is a great trait! when she's older, sticking up for what she believes comes from that same trait.

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P.G.

answers from Phoenix on

Hi S.-

I have a daughter that is very similar. She is two and does not throw tantrums, but decides what she will and will not do. If it is not her choice, she WILL NOT behave the way I want her to. I have tried lots of different things and being firm, calm (if that is possible when you feel you are going to lose your mind :)) and consistent seems to work the best. She is also very smart and way ahead of others her age. I bet yours is too. I think particularly intelligent kids progress through stages earlier and faster than others. Last time my step-dad saw my daughter he told me not to worry about her being so "strong willed" because that just means that she will NEVER be talked into doing something that she does not want to do. That made me feel better because I know I am giving her the tools she needs to make good/smart choices, and if she makes them on her own instead of listening to others, then she will always be ok! I would like to talk to you again as our daughters are teenagers. I imagine we will have very similar feelings once again! :) Good luck and know that you are doing the best job you know how.

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M.H.

answers from Phoenix on

My daughter is the same exact way...I can't tell you how many times I've felt that I was at my wits end and I wished she would just behave and I could curl up in a ball while she transformed. She'll be 3 in October and I do have to admit that she is getting easier to deal with. Your daughter is old enough to know when she's doing something wrong, but still too young to really care. I don't have any direct advice, just know it gets a little easier and don't give in to her fits. At the beginning of this year whenever mine would start to whine or throw a fit I'd tell her to go to her room and do it...I haven't seen a real fit in about a month and a half...Good luck and I hope that this helped a little or at least showed you that you aren't alone with a crazy girl!

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S.L.

answers from Tucson on

Hi S.-
Your daughter is smart and willful. Good thing they usually go together. Don't always say 'no'. Just say her name, tell her what you wish her to do in positive terms, then praise her when she stops. She is tantruming. If she is on the floor screaming, pick her up, with her back to you; keep her head below the level of your chin, and her hands away from your glasses or earrings. Put her in her room, close the door, and let her scream. Don't talk. Don't let her out until she stops. In a restaurant or store, same thing. You both go in the car, or you both go home if she won't stop hitting at you. Hope it helps- S.

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K.M.

answers from Phoenix on

My son who's 23 months now, started asserting his will at about 18 months. When he starts on a temper tantrum because he's not getting his way, which includes throwing things, hitting or biting, I sharply say "NO!" and then put him in a chair that I've designated as his timeout chair. I keep him there until he's in a calmer mood. When he's in the chair, I don't give him any attention. Surprisingly, I haven't had to struggle to keep him in the chair. I don't have a time limit, sometimes it's a few seconds, sometimes it's longer. Afterwards, I give him a hug and kiss and let him go and play.

You're not alone. Some kids are just more determined and aren't as easily distracted/redirected as other children. Don't let your friends get you discouraged or second guessing your parenting skills.

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K.C.

answers from Phoenix on

Dear S.,

As a retired teacher, with a minor in psychology and having worked with children for many years and taken a lot of child development classes--I assure you, a 15-month old cannot be called "disrespectful." She's just a strong-willed baby who is testing your limits and probably is easily frustrated due to lack of language skills to communicate clearly her needs and wants. But as Dr. Phil says, kids get too many "no"s and not enough "atta girl"s. My niece used to work at a day care center where they were not allowed to use the word "no." They had to say to the child, "That's not acceptable." We thought this was a little extreme for babies, but the idea is that they need a lot more "yes"es and fewer "no"s. First of all, you need to know that you are doing the best you can as a parent and are not doing anything wrong, per se; but you could use suggestions and reassurance that this is a stage your daughter is going through and that "this, too, shall pass." I think that holding her hands (rather than slapping or spanking, which would be counter-productive) and being stern is the right approach to that point. But instead of just saying "no," the best thing you can do for your "little terror" is offer her alternatives. E.g. say "It's okay. Shhh! How about doing (this or that) instead?" Children usually respond very well, even at this young age, when given alternatives and choices. Just make sure you don't overwhelm her with choices. Make her choose between two things you know she likes, and she will forget all about whatever it was that she was doing before. As she gets older, if she refuses to make a choice, you say okay I'll choose for you (then pick the opposite of the one you think will keep her happy longer); and she will automatically choose the other. She is asserting her independence at that point and will have no idea of the reverse psychology you are using!
Best of everything. I hope this helps.
K.

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J.L.

answers from Phoenix on

Hang in there. I have a very strong willed 2 1/2 year old son. He used to be into everything and whatever i said no to he was twice as determined to do. If he opened a cabinet and i told him to close it, he opened it as far as it would open. Then he would throw himself on the floor (as to say "oh yeah...what are you gonna do about it?). That is just the nature of the strong willed child.
I found that just being consistent and following through in correcting the bad behavior (making him close the cabinet himself, moving him away from whatever he was getting into...ect )he eventually started listening better. It takes forever and makes you want to pull your hair out but just hang in there. When you have a strong willed child they are more difficult no matter what kind of parent you are. The good news is that strong willed children are less likely to be influenced by their peers later in life. They are leaders not followers.
If you haven't tried timeout yet, you might try it. It works on my sister-in-laws 16 month old strong willed son. It's surprising how fast they pick up the concept. Also, you might try removing her from whatever she is doing and sitting down to play with her for a few minutes. Sometimes they are just needing that extra attention from mom.
It does get better as they get older if you stay consistent! Yeah!
I hope this is helpful to you.
Good luck!

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R.E.

answers from Phoenix on

S., I feel your pain and experience it with you. First, you are not a bad mom, we are all doing our best. I felt the same way with my daughter who is now 5 1/2 and I have an early childhood degree and work in the field. I was helping other moms who had children better than my own. That was very hard for me to deal with. It wasn't until the birth of our second daughter who was the polar opposite of her sister, did I realize that it was mainly their personalities! Of course, how we react to their tantrums and crying and misbehavior shapes how they will respond the next time....there is still nothing we can do about who they are! At least that is what I believe. The birth of my second daughter validated that for me. We use to joke that our daughter was going through the terrible twos at one. I continued to say to myself that her "strong will" will pay off in the future when she becomes the CEO of a company because she never takes "no" for an answer and will fight for what she wants. I guess, upon some of my readings about strong willed children. Many presidents, CEO's, and people with high positions...all their mothers said they were also stong willed children. It is so hard to deal with, but although she is still stong willed at 5 1/2, she is much easier to reason with and explain things to. I use her compassion and sweetness to my advantage too. HOpe this helps.

Just stick to your guns, the one time you back down, she will take advantage of it for months. IN the same note....pick your battles, otherwise you risk your sanity!!

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T.T.

answers from Phoenix on

Hi S.-
You are NOT alone! Many of us have dealt with this issue in our children. 2 out of my 3 were strong-willed. You are not a bad mother, your child is acting normal for her temperament type.
You are right to start working with her now and not waiting til she's 15 years old. Now THAT'S a smart mom!
A couple of books that have helped us (hope you'll check into them):
The Strong-Willed Child by James Dobson
Don't Make Me Count to Three by Ginger Plowman (this one is for later, but really funny, too!)
Consistency is the key... if you are consistent with her about boundaries, you will find later that her energy can be directed into so many great areas. You may have a great potential leader who has been given to you to raise.
You can do it! Lots of consistency, lots of love, lots of patience. Remember you are not alone!
toni

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T.N.

answers from Phoenix on

I HIGHLY recommend taking Love and Logic classes. Here are the list of classes the local Love and Logic instructor is teaching: http://www.keriparentcoach.com/447486.html Tell her T. sent you. You can also call the Love and Logic company at 800-588-5644 to get the contact info for people who teach classes in your area (I just called and a real person answered right away and was very helpful).

The Love and Logic approach is all about tough love--being firm and consistent in letting children suffer the natural (logical) consequences of their actions, while doing so in a very gentle and loving way, having true empathy in your heart. My mom parented this way, and I really appreciate my upbringing. I feel she was a very effective and loving parent who helped prepare us for the real world.

If classes aren't available near you, check out some Love and Logic materials at the local library for free or buy them at www.loveandlogic.com. Here are some I recommend: a seminar on DVD "Painless Parenting for the Preschool Years," the book "Parenting with Love and Logic." They also have some great CDs full of wonderful advice and real-life applications that you can listen to in the car while driving.

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L.P.

answers from Phoenix on

Hi S.,
I think many parents under-estimate their toddlers. She is definately old enough for time out. You will probably have to use a place like a pack and play for now but by 18 months she will sit on a step or in a corner if you are consistant now. Tantrums are normal anytime after 13 months or so its how you respond to them that makes the difference in long term behavior. Your friends might have just forgotten the early stages of setting boundaries. If she is throwing a fit to get your attention or becuase you taken something away just ignore her but if she attempts to hit you or anyone else you should respond immediately with a 1 minute time out, no discussion, no anger just calmly tell no hitting, place her in the pack and play and leave her alone. WHen you come back to retrieve her get down to her level say... you had time out for being mean, or hitting... say sorry (if she can) or give mommy a hug. Then it is all over. Until the next time. Children push to find their boundaries and establish who's incharge. They want it to be you even if it doesn't seem that way. Your not a bad mom and your daughter is not a bad child she is just testing her boundaries and as a very young child this is the only way she knows how. If you are consistant she will be just as well behaved as any of your friends chiildren.

L. JH Pinson MPT and Owner
The PEDI Center for Therapy
Mother of 2 boys, 18 months and 3 yrs

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