Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Strong Willed Child

Does this look like the face of a strong-willed child?  Does this look like the face of a young boy who challenges the words of such a kind-hearted mother? (on most days the kind hearted part is true)
Does a picture really paint a thousand words?

This is my last child to be home with.  This fall he will have his lunch made, put into his backpack, wear shoes every day, and be placed into the structures of the world outside of our home. This kind of transition will be not be to hard, as we do have a certain amount of structure at home.

I have enjoyed Emerson in the same way I enjoyed Emily.  Not to say the other three were less enjoyed, but there is a special time when all the other kids are off to school and you are left with just one child.  Emily was the youngest, before the younger boys came along. When Elliot went off to school she and I spent our days in and our days out together.  It is the same with Emerson. Both very strong-willed by many standards of what that strong will looks like.

I chose these two pictures because they do have a thousand words to go with them. Let me start with the first one. I promise I will keep it short.  A snow day.  A child asked to go and get his snow clothes on. He has them. Powder pants, snow coat, hats and gloves. All in a neat tidy place for easy accessibility.  He shows up in these clothes instead.  Do I discipline for disobedience?  Or do I ask questions first and then decided if grace will be extended?  I asked questions first.  Emerson did not want to wear his snow clothes. He wanted to wear his new red fleece given to him by a "really cool friend". He wanted to wear this hat because it's Emily's hat "and I love her."  He wanted to wear his jeans because "I already put them on and I did not want to take them off." And he wanted to wear his green vest "because it matches your vest mama." I love how his mind works and he gets that freedom to express himself and today grace is extended. The reality of wet pants will be his teacher today.

Speaking of his teacher. I spend a little time each day teaching, through play, the important things he must know to be ready for Kindergarten.  Today we are focusing on counting and the number TWO. I am using the same little dalmatians I have used with the other four children for learning how to count.  Identifying what two of something looks like etc. My dining room is off the kitchen and once given the instructions to identify two of this or that, work on his writing sheet I start lunch just a few steps away in the kitchen.  When I checked in on him, he had nothing to do with his counting work. He was singing away and sorting all the dalmatians into piles of the same. If you look closely at the picture there are five different kinds of dalmatians. He had counted each set, and then put them into the piles. I asked him why he did not put them in two's and he said because each pile had more than two and I gave him the wrong pages to work on.  "Mama I needed the five and four pages. There is nothing here that is just two."

I realize these are very soft examples of a strong willed child.  Strong willed children, by my definition, is the confidence to assert both will, voice, ideas, and means to "their" end.  That can be a challenge when there are matters of the heart to be worked out.  Matters of the heart have very little grace.  Biblically we are called to train up our children and often that training deals directly with heart issues.  That little girl who wanted to line up all the letters of the alphabet, in order, and make words we say was reading chapter books by the age of five. She had the Chronicles of Narnia knocked off her reading list before she was six years old. Imagine if I had insisted that she take one letter at time to learn.  Allowing those kids who have the confidence to do more, say more, learn more and challenge more are gifted in ways that we may not be able to see as parents. 

Looking at the three strong willed children I have, and one strong willed dog, I realize that the "labels" that the world would have put on them, would have hindered their ability to grow and learn in the way that God designed them.  His design. Not the world's design.  

I have been following a new blog;  http://www.hespeaksinthesilence.com. written by our pastor's wife.  Diane is an excellent writer and communicator on parenting.  In one of her tabs she has a Q & A  section where she answers practical questions on parenting. I post her blogsite because I stand behind everything she writes on parenting.  I may have done this parenting thing for 23 years, but I still have lots to learn and learn from her blog.  Go and visit it if you want to learn more on parenting and other good stuff too.

Enjoy those little sillies in your life today.  Blessings, elizabeth


  1. Good stuff! I enjoyed reading it, and will check out Diane's blog too.

  2. So what exactly is my son? He's a good kid but he delays on everything. And always has a reason for it. But then he does it.

  3. I feel as if I could write a book on the strong-willed child, but I think that's already been done! Wow, I know I haven't parented perfectly over the years; I harbor some regrets, but I do know I've always loved. I pray that God teaches me how to love more like he loves and to parent with a good balance of grace and discipline.

    You're doing great!


  4. Sheri, Your son has a will and a way. Is this working for you? Obedience trumps issues of the heart always. Emerson choosing some things on his own are not issues of his heart. This could be your son's pace, which can play an important role as he grows up. However you can express to him that at certain times his "pace" has to be your "pace" for the sake of what needs to get accomplished.


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