Can we tame the strong willed daughter?
As the age old saying goes ‘I was the best parent before I had kids’, I also remember watching my friend’s daughter change her outfit several times during one play date, thinking ‘my daughter would never do that’.
I eat my words.
What’s more is that my strong-willed Miss 7 has an opinion on each item placed in her cupboard and drawers and is not interested in high rotation at all – just the same outfit over and over again.
I speak to parents regularly about allowing kids to make choices to engage cooperation and increase autonomy. While I’m 100% on board with choices regarding the food we have on offer, when the homework will be done and whether it’s a braid or a ponytail for school, the clothes thing REALLY gets to me.
When I tell parents about providing a choice I always preface it with ‘but you genuinely have to NOT care which one they chose’. Many parents consider themselves using the ‘choice’ method by saying to their kids ‘Do it now, or go to bed’… that’s not much of a choice! The idea is to get kids motivated to do something and keep things ticking along.
But following my own advice, the choice thing isn’t really working in this case because I genuinely DO care what she wears! When I rationally think about it, it’s not because I don’t like the clothes she has (they’ve come into my house via me) it’s more that I feel frustrated by the clothes that have been hanging in the wardrobe for a year NEVER WORN and think ‘what’s wrong with that dress!? What a waste – it’s never been worn!’
It’s such a struggle to give up control over our kids. We usually have an opinion about everything they do… but is it always our place to share it? ‘How to talk so kids listen’ has taught me that kids are people too… they have their own thoughts and feelings and they may not be the same as ours. As hard as that is to accept.
It would be irresponsible for me to give the impression that I have figured out how to control my daughter, have succeeded in having her wear each of the items in her wardrobe and have whipped her into submission… under my control and happily agreeing with all my wishes. There is not one parenting program, skill or tip that will work every time – especially when it comes to influencing the behaviour and personality of our children.
More realistically, this is a problem that I have and it’s not an issue for my daughter at all. She feels comfortable and happy wearing the same thing over and over. I recognise that I am trying to control her tastes just because they are not like mine and because I want her to portray an image that is ‘me’ and not ‘her’.
This blog is not a ‘how to change your child in x amount of days’, instead a reflection (for me as much as you) about expectations for our children and why they are important to us. Why do we feel uncomfortable with some of the choices our kids make, even if they are inside the parameters of the rules of our house?
My answer is simple – because they are not us. They are their own people, as difficult as that is to accept.
Let them make the little decisions when they’re little, to grow and make big decisions when they’re big. I think I better make this my new mantra **sigh**.
About the author
Megan Warren is an experienced primary school teacher, mother of two and step mum of three. She developed Key to Kids in 2015 to help parents and educators connect with children. Her simple and practical methods result in better behavioural outcomes and stronger relationships.
You can find out more about Megan and her business Key to Kids here.