Thursday, June 11, 2009

Raising a Strong-Willed Child

I've been having a rough time with Caedmon the past few weeks. He's 2 years 9 months old and extremely strong-willed. He typically does well in public (which is a huge blessing) but when it's just our family, it can get pretty ugly.

I don't want to go on and on with all the details of issues that we're struggling with (mainly revolving around obedience and self-control) because that would be depressing and perhaps boring to read. But I've been living it every day, every minute, and it has been exhausting.

I did want to tell one story, though. Not so that you would feel sorry for me (or judgemental of me, whichever side of ditch you fall into), but because I know that there is probably another mom out there who is at her wits-end and just needs a little company and encouragement.

Yesterday I was putting Caedmon down for his nap like I've done every day of his life. Lately, going down for a nap has turned into something similar to an arm wrestling match between Caedmon and me. I think he's getting close to no longer needing a nap, but he's a bear without one so I'm trying to hold onto it as long as I can. We went through our naptime routine (potty, brush teeth, read book) and then I closed his door and hoped for the best. It was another day of Caedmon getting out of his bed multiple times and me having to go back in there multiple times to spank him and talk to him. (Yes, we believe in spanking...don't be so shocked!)

The last time I went in, I sat on his little stool and held him as he kicked and screamed and tried to slap me. He was facing me and I had his arms restrained down by his sides. He would start to get quiet but then get going again. I just stared at the wall not knowing what to do or what to say. I kept running over all of my options in my head and couldn't think of anything brilliant or magical to calm him down and make him go to sleep. I felt so inadequate in that moment. I'm his mom. I'm a pastor's wife. I majored in early childhood development. I've read a ton of parenting books. I should know what to do. But I didn't.

So we just sat there. Caedmon screamed and kicked and slapped. And tears ran down my face as I stared at the wall trying to maintain my composure. Finally, after maybe 15 or 20 minutes, Caedmon wore himself out and went to sleep. So I went out in the hallway and just sobbed...thinking, "I can't do this. I'm not even sure if I want to do this. What am I doing wrong?"

Last night I recounted the days events for Andy and I said, "I don't think I have the strength to face him tomorrow." Andy said (with compassion in his voice), "Yes, you do." And we both knew that was true.

I don't know what exhausting circumstance you're facing in your life right now, but there is a God in Heaven whose strength is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). He gives us wisdom when we ask of Him (James 1:5) and grants us more and more grace to sustain us (James 4:6). He gives strength to the weary (Isaiah 40:29) and rest to those who feel burdened (Matthew 11:28)

I did get one thing right yesterday: I am inadequate. But I serve a God who is MORE THAN ENOUGH.


meg83 said...

It sounds like Caedmon and Olivia are two peas in a pod!!!!!

Stephanie said...

I have quite a few friends that are in the same boat with their kids, and they struggle almost daily with behaivor issues (mostly at home as well). Not having a strong-willed child it is sometimes hard for me to really understand what it is like, but listening to my friends has helped. I'll be praying for you guys as I know from talking with my friends how hard it is to fight these battles every day. BUT you are completely right! God will give you the grace and wisdom to get past this season and to discipline Caedmon in a way that honors the Lord. I know you said you'd read tons of books, but I was wondering if you have read eithe Don't Make Me Count to Three by Ginger Plowman or Shepherding a Child's Heart by Ted Tripp. If nothing else, they may encourage you and help you as far as using Scripture to instruct Caedmon to go along with the spankings.

Stacie said...

Steph, Thanks for the sweet comments and thoughts. I've got both of those books and also Ginger Plowman's "Wise Words for Moms" which teaches how to incorporate specific scripture in training specific behaviors. I wrote all the verses on scripture memory cards and memorized them all, just positive that would be my saving grace! Well...I know God's word doesn't return void so maybe it's sinking in even though I can't see the results yet. I also recently started doing daily devotions with Caedmon, focusing on a different character quality each day. Surely all this training will click in sometime.

Mary said...

Just got back from the beach with Zerrin. A trip where him picked up "mine", and screaming! I'm working on my growing kids Gods way and obedience...and I'm afraid I have a long road a head of me. Hang in there...all of us moms will make it!

The Noy Maker said...

Stacie-I have SO been there! 2 out of 4 (well at least so far since Moses is too young to tell) are strong-willed! About a year and 1/2 ago I was at my witts end not knowing what to do and at a loss praising GOD that my child would be going to school that fall. That's when HE did it! He told me I was to homeschool! I was like NO WAY! Anyways, to make the story short, I obeyed and he showed me things about my daughter (her love language and other things) that helped me in dealing with her. BUT, he also showed me I didn't have the answers but needed to lean and trust completely in Him and His grace is sufficient!

beckye78 said...

I have had those days. I have cried and thought those same thoughts. It does get better. Every age has it's challenges and rewards. Just when you think you can't handle any more they suddenly change. They are good for awhile and then on to some other challenge. I have had a lot of people say children are either hard when they are young or hard when they are teenagers. I personally am glad Emily is a strong willed toddler and I will hope that she will be a calm teenager. I know that is wishful thinking...but a girl can wish can't she?!?
Good luck. I know you are a wonderful mommy and Caedmon is blessed to have you as a mom. If you ever need to talk or vent you know my number!