Gentle Parenting Challenges

"I dare you to move me!"

There is one parenting rule that I follow: "Treat others (your children) the way you want to be treated." I try my best as a parent to be a gentle guide...opening minds, sharing experiences, advising as opposed to controlling. It is not always easy. I sometimes loose my cool. I yell.

Lately, I feel like I have been yelling a lot more. You see we have one child in particular who is extremely willful. There is just no budging this kid if he doesn't want to move. He has been on Easter holiday for two weeks now. Which means two weeks of wild kid abandon. He has been outside since the crack of dawn, running up and down the complex with his friends, going none stop and full speed ahead. I love that he can be a free range kid. That we have a community of families that look out for the entire group. It's heavenly to open the door and say,"Go outside and play." I love it. And Shine loves it. Good all around.

However, after two weeks of vacation mode, he is unable to fathom a return to school and the standard routine. He is fighting against it with the very core of his being. (Did I mention that his iron will rivals the strength of Superman?)

To celebrate the last night of holiday, Mo and I decided we would all go out for ice cream after dinner. Thinking we would be met with smiles and cheers, we were shocked to get crying and wailing as a response. Mo and I looked at each other in confusion. Who refuses ice cream??!! Shine was protesting because he wanted to continue playing outside with his friends whom he had been playing outside with since 10am. (And who would soon be called inside to dinner.) We were stumped by this. In the end we made the authoritative decision that we were all going for ice cream and we would all enjoy it...humpf.

The pouting lasted for the duration of the car ride but once at the ice cream shop, Shine happily ate up a huge dish of strawberry ice cream and ran circles around the garden. He had fun. We all had fun. But having to coerce him into having a good time was not fun. Nor is it fun to convince him to bathe when it is time to bathe, eat when it is time to eat, go to school when it is time to go to school...It makes gentle parenting a challenge! I have to bite my tongue before the words, "Do it because I'm the mom and I say so" come flying out.

So, who else out there is parenting a willful child? Anyone have any gentle parenting tricks up their sleeves?


Anonymous said…
I completely understand! I have been struggling with my 4 year old. She is very willful and thinks she knows what is best for her already. I find myself yelling way too much. I do not like this reaction that involuntarily comes out. I desire to parent with a purpose not by reacting. I have been leading a parenting group at my church in which I am so not qualified, but we are all learning together. It helps to have a core group of peers that are going through the same thing. It is hard to give advice since every child is different, but it is helpful to talk about what has worked and what hasn't with each child. I do believe the most important thing that a parent can teach a child is obedience. Remember that it is a work in progress and we must adapt to many different phases and situations that childhood brings. "Love conquers all".
Marcie said…
Lovely posts. We miss you in Brooklyn though. And we all know what an amazing mom you are. Tough challenges and all. I look back know and think about all the things I put my parents through. Man, they put up with a lot from three kids.
Erik Weese said…
routine: it helps to say, " its bath time", the same time every day,
choice:give two choices that you can follow through on. Do not make promises you can't keep. IF you say your going to go home, you have to be able to go home.
bribe: I once bribed Kasper saying that he can brush his teeth only if he gets out of the bath now.

I Love, Love , Love this blog.
We miss you guys.
keep writing.
Rae said…
thank you all for your support! i keep telling myself that his willfulness is a good will serve him well in the future. and i have to say, i am impressed with his determination and stamina! he gets plenty of forwarning about what is going to happen and we often consult him to help make the routine or plan...but it doesn't change the reaction when it is time to actually do x,y, time i guess...

i miss brooklyn too. especially at this time of the year. i so want to ride my bike through prospect park!! we are hoping that we can move more fluidly between NYC and Kingston in the coming years.

thanks again, guys!
A. Betty said…
Well my dear, they don't come any stronger willed than your cousin Melissa. I have to agree with your friend Erik's advice. Plus we always had to find a consequence (and it wasn't being sent to her room) that really mattered to her because Melissa always wanted to know the punishment first before she did the crime to decide if it was worth doing anyway! Talk about parents having to be quick on the draw! Her will and determination are serving her very well in her adult years. She is consistently the early bird that gets the worm!

Love your blog too!! We miss you all. Love A. Betty
Rae said…
aunt betty, i had to laugh! mom sometimes says the same thing about he and lissy!

we miss you lots too! lots of love,
Renee said…
ha ha, Aunt Betty...I knew as soon as I saw your name who you would write about. I remember you saying that Lissy always wanted to hear the punishment before she did the crime...What a stinker!
I have a seven-year-old who thinks he's twenty-seven. He doesn't understand why he should obey his parents because in his mind, we're all equals. One of my mantras is something I learned from the book Raising Your Spirited Child - "look for a yes." If I find myself arguing with him, I ask myself, "Am I asking him to do this because he really needs to or because I want him to?" And if it's just because I want him to, I look for a way to negotiate a compromise. And I try to teach him to look for ways to compromise rather than arguing with me.
Rae said…
Erin, Great advice! Thank you! We have been working on compromise as well. It is a long road and I sometimes get discouraged if we have set backs and fall into the old patterns of arguing.