Everyone told me raising a daughter would be totally different from the house full of boys I was used to. While I’m not sure how much of our differences are gender based and how much is purely personality, my daughter has definitely been my most strong-willed child to date. Finding ways to parent her without butting heads has been an interesting experience.
If you’ve dealt with a strong-willed toddler (or are dealing with one now) you’ll certainly feel my pain. My days are a balance between learning to be flexible so we don’t clash and trying to stand my ground enough so my toddler doesn’t walk all over me.
So how do you deal with a strong-willed toddler? Carefully. Very carefully.
Pick your Battles
Not everything is worth a fight. These days my toddler is determined to choose her own clothing every day . . . well, more like several times a day if I’m being honest. I’ve let that one go. She’s learning some independence and practicing her motor skills in the dozens of times she changes her clothes. I draw the line at having chocolate for breakfast though and that has resulted in more than one screaming fit.
It must be hard being a toddler. They are really trying to figure out who they are as an individual and working to move out of the baby phase and become more independent. It’s an important developmental stage but it can be hard as a toddler. We all know that when toddlers get frustrated that’s when things get hard for everyone. Offer choices as often as you can to prevent meltdowns. Your toddler will feel like she has some control and you’ll be able to offer two good choices that you are happy with.
Do you want carrots or cucumbers for a snack? Would you like to read a story or sing a song before bed? Either way you win.
It’s a sad fact that as a parent, you don’t always get to be the fun one. Kids need limits but enforcing them sometimes makes you the bad guy. Think of it as practice for the teen years. After all, a screaming toddler is still way cuter than a screaming teen. It may be easier to give into your toddler’s demands but she won’t learn that way. You have to set limits and be prepared for the consequences like the inevitable toddler meltdown. On the plus side, toddlers forgive and forget quickly and once they learn where you draw the line they’ll eventually stop fighting you on it . . . probably.
Consistence may be hard thing to master but it’s important. If you aren’t consistent it can be confusing for your toddler who won’t know what behavior is expected of her. If you don’t want your toddler jumping on the couch (or in our case the kitchen table) don’t let her do it. The first time you laugh because she just looks so dang cute doing it she’ll think that her behavior is okay and she’ll be confused the next time you tell her no. Make it easy on both of you and just stay consistent.
How do you deal with a strong-willed toddler?