Adventures in Parenting: dealing with my strong-willed child!

Here’s the story known as I was “that” parent who took my kid to Cici’s Pizza in last year’s Christmas Pajamas (which by the way are slightly too small and incredibly faded).  I had a good reason, though!  My son had always been very easy-going!  This is something I heard over and over again from babysitters, daycare providers, and basically anyone who ever came in contact with him.  We didn’t have terrible twos with him, but when he turned five, suddenly the FEROCIOUS fives hit us!  My easy-going little boy suddenly became very stubborn and strong-willed.  The slightest things (ranging from not having the “right” shirt to wear to not being able to watch Netfix) can lead to insane tantrums.

Friday night was one of “those” nights in our house.  We’d had a great week, and I had planned on taking the kids to Cici’s Pizza, which is one of their favorite places, as a reward.  For some reason unknown to me, when we got home from school, my son decided to put on his Christmas pajamas.  About 10 minutes before we needed to leave, I told him that he needed to change which led to a tantrum.  I tried to remain calm (and for those who have been there and done that, you know that’s no small feat!) and warned him that we were leaving in 10 minutes with or without him.  When he still refused to change, I went out to the car with my daughter hoping that would get him to change and hurry out.  No such luck.  His screams could be heard throughout the neighborhood, though, so I decided I needed a different tactic and QUICK.

Of course, the easiest option would have been to just stay home, but that wouldn’t have been fair to my daughter, who hadn’t done anything wrong.  Too often lately, I feel like she has to sacrifice because of our struggles with her brother’s behavior.  So, I tried a new tactic.  I told him that he had 5 minutes to get dressed or he was going to Cici’s with us in his pajamas.  I set the timer and walked away.  One minute before the timer was set to go off, I gave him one last warning.  He didn’t budge.  So I carried him out to the car kicking and screaming in last year’s Christmas pajamas.

When we got there, he was still carrying on and of course refusing to get out of the car.  I knew I couldn’t leave him in the car, but didn’t particularly want to drag him screaming in Christmas pajamas into the restaurant either.  Either was I looked like “the bad parent.”  I finally was able to get him to calm down and we had a conversation about choices and consequences.  He was worried about being embarrassed and we talked about that, too.  For what it’s worth, I think I was probably more embarrassed than him, but not embarrassed enough to miss out on this chance to teach him a lesson!

Even though our evening had gotten off to a rocky start, I had some great conversations with my kids over dinner and I was amazed at the insight that came from my five year old as he processed his behavior.  As parents we always have to pick our battles, and I am glad that I decided to tough this one out.  A few times since then, as he has started to approach the tantrum phase, he has stopped himself and said that he wants to make “Good choices” and that he was “glad he went to Cici’s in his pajamas because it taught him how to make good choices.”  Now he knows, too, that I am going to follow through on the things that I say.  My hope is that as we go through all of these struggles now while he’s young, things will be much easier as he gets older.  A girl can dream, right?  I have no doubts, though, that in the mornings when I’m battling with him to get dressed for school and I tell him that he can go to school in his clothes or his pajamas, he won’t doubt for a second that I will follow through!

What struggles do you face with YOUR kids?  How do you handle your stubborn or strong-willed children?


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