Surviving The Strong Willed Child...

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Yesterday my friend Gena called after a daunting trip to the post office with her youngest monkey. She said, "I think I may have just got a glimpse of the judgmental stares you've told me so much about." Apparently Mr. H, her almost 3-year-old, was less than cooperative, and to put it nicely, was like a monkey on crack. As she told me the story, she was laughing one of those crazy laughs ... like she was either going to pull a Thelma and Louise and drive off a cliff or start to cry.

  Photography by Maria Alexandra Photography

All I could do was tell her I was sorry... judgmental glares stares and comments just feel crappy whether it's because people don't remember what it's like to be smack dab in the middle of terrible two's or because they don't understand why a six year old would be flailing, screaming in an isle throwing a two year old tantrum (mama warriors you know what I'm talking about). 

By now you know that I don't know anything about anything, so this is not a post of great tips to conquering your strong willed child... but I do have an arsenal of sanity savers to survive the sometimes years of butting heads that come with raising mind-numbingly headstrong strong, independent monkeys on crack:

  • And this is the most important... when your child starts throwing one of those "that's not really my child" tantrums in public... Stop what you're doing... Keep your head down and get the HELL out. I think I might stitch that on a pillow... (eye contact with other adults is bad... very very bad... it's almost an invitation for unsolicited criticism advice and looks of horror.)
  • Have something you look forward to everyday. Sticking to your guns and feeling like the bad guy all the time can be rough on a mama. Constantly having to be on top of the strong willed culprit and ready with EXHAUSTING. So after my monkeys are in bed (at 7pm on the dot... cause I'm mean like that), I always try to have something to look forward to. Usually a date with my friend Merlot... but sometimes a bath and some ice cream are just the trick...
  • Let go of the guilt... When Gena and I talk on the really rough days... we know we're safe with each other to say... we don't want to do this anymore... {Gasp... yes I said it.} Of course we aren't serious and it's only a little true... but there's a huge weight of guilt that surrounds those feelings. Even if that thought is only a fraction of a percent true, it feels yucky and I beat myself up over it. Especially about a half hour after they're all asleep for the night and I go in and they look like little angels... I wonder how I could have ever been so frustrated with such perfect little men... but then a new day starts and with it comes the "stares of doom" where if they could talk I know they be saying... "Oh, sorry... did you really think you're in charge here... because I'm pretty sure I'm going to ignore you and do what I want."  I think the point is... when you know you love your child more than life... it's ok to have the split second feelings of "I don't want to do this anymore".... I think if we're honest... most of us have felt that way at one time or another. So let it go... You're not alone.
  • Focus on the bright side... The really exceptionally great thing about having strong willed children is that they are in fact strong. They are decisive and persistent and not afraid of a fight. Those are great qualities to have as an adult... those things alone make a person great and will allow them to do amazing things in life ... that could be my own little fairy tale I tell myself... but hey it helps me sleep at night :)
  • Learn from other people's mistakes... I have to say in my journey as a mother of special needs and very strong willed children there's one thing I wish no mother would ever have to experience... and that's the judgmental comments and stares from people who haven't walked in my shoes. It's about the crappiest feeling ever to be on the receiving end of harsh criticism on top of having to deal with a meltdown or stand off... it hurts... and it stays with me for days. You would think that alone would keep me from EVER uttering "I would never..." or giving a disapproving look at someone parenting differently than I do... but honestly I've done it... and today I am making a pact to stop. We have to stop beating each other up or the cycle will never end!

Someone wrote on our earth Monkeys facebook page the other day that this too shall pass... they were talking about toddlerhood. And while being a strong willed child isn't always just a phase, I think eventually the days of constantly testing boundaries and saying NO to everything will die down...maybe... hopefully... Regardless, I will remember that what makes them a pain and hard to live with at times is what also is going to make them great men. No one said being a parent was going to be easy... I am just thankful that I get to go through it with moms like you... It's so comforting to know that I'm not alone... and neither are you!

Don't Forget to {Go Blue} for autism awareness month.. Check out these amazing mother warriors and do your part to spread awareness about autism this month!




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