Monday, February 15, 2010

Can you say, "precocious?"

I am having teenage conflicts with my daughter right now. She is not a teenager. She is not even a tweenager. She is four. She is four years old and causing me such angst that I've been lying awake at night trying to figure out what I'm doing wrong and what I can change to make her behave and if that older couple at church who thinks she's so cute might want to adopt her.

She is what the psychology books like to call "strong-willed." She is what I like to call "a brat." Up to this point in my life I thought that bratty kids were the product of too much indulgence. Wishy washy parenting. Push-overs. Never being said no to. Having ice cream for breakfast and presents whenever you stomped your feet.


I consider myself a good parent, and by good I mean that I make my kids eat their fruits and vegetables, I limit their TV time, I don't allow them to run through the neighborhood with no coat and shoes in January (and this is a real example from my neighborhood, I kid you not), and I actually enforce discipline. I say no way more than I say yes, and I follow through on consequences.

So what gives? Why does this method work fine on my second child while making my eldest child so horrible that her teachers at school have had to talk to me no less than five times this school year? About PRESCHOOL. She isn't mean. She isn't snotty. She isn't belligerent. She's actually very charming and cheerful. She is just very very sure that her way is the way things should be done and if you don't agree with her, she will explain it to you until you do. Or until you jump off a bridge just to end the discussion.

This tiny, willful, 32 lb package of joie de vivre is making me crazy. She's making me feel like a bad parent. She is making me shake in my boots about the day she turns 13. Because if we can't seem to get along now, what is going to happen once the REAL hormones kick in???!!!!

Normally I feel pretty confident about my parenting. I managed whole classrooms of six, seventh, eighth, and ninth graders for six years without any problem. But this child has thrown me for a loop. So if anyone has any books that they highly recommend that will instantly make my daughter into a saint, please feel free to list them now.


tiburon said...

I highly recommend reading the book: The Strong Willed Child by Dr Dobson. It helped us a lot. In case you haven't noticed, Ethan is a little strong willed as well.

Another couple of books that helped us out were The Wonder of Boys:

And The Wonder of Girls:

It really helps explain the differences in parenting the different sexes.

I have them if you want to borrow them :)

Also, we should have lunch.

That would help.

tiburon said...

Oh and if there is one thing I have learned parenting 4 kids - it is that each child is different.

The punishment that works for one will not work for another.

They are all driven and motivated by different things - and you have to find out what works individually for each one.

Lia said...

I have never read a single book about raising kids and I raised my tribe alone.
They are 17,21 and 24 now and two of them are still at home.
The beautiful strong willed daughter left home a few months back.
What I can say, is the way you are raising them sound pretty much the same as I did it and mine have turned out very well and in general have given me no worries as teenagers.
I could write you pages about my strong willed daughter, but instead I will tell you this. None of mine are the same, while they all know the basic rules that are laid down and a given, they did always test the boundaries.I never gave in, ever.
One day I lamented to a friend that daughter was very much like yours and that I was confused by it all. Friend replied "she is you" and went on to explain that she was like me but without the maturity of an adult brain to cope with the things she was feeling and so it looked like she was bratty. Indeed when I took a new look, it was true and a new way of dealing with her had to be arranged. She is 21 now, has travelled the world, left home, has a good job and is doing well.
Breathe your daughter is fine and a strong will, will serve her well.
Talking is always good and validating her feelings while explain things to her and how her behaviour makes others see her and approach her, will go a long way to help her. My daughter has a lot of empathy for others, is considerate and mostly kind. She is also fiercely loyal and popular. Not bad going for a wilful child to grow into. I hope that helps.
Much love

Najma said...

I am in the same boat, so I'm glad you did this post... maybe I can learn something too.

Chelsea said...

This probably isn't what you want to hear, but I think strong willed girls are the best kind there are. She will never be a doormat!

rae said...

I have no mom-advice for you. I have only "I was also the eldest strong-willed gal" advice: You're a good parent. (And she probably won't hit sainthood until her late teens.)

veronica said...

Stand your ground. This too shall pass.

Jules AF said...

I'm sorry she's difficult already!

mCat said...

I was going to suggest The Strong Willed Child but Tib beat me to it.

Other than that, I have no answers, just a 'good luck' to offer you

Mia said...

I have no answers what so ever, but I am going to check out the books Tib recommended.

Nicki said...

I wish I could give you advice but so far I haven't had to deal with this - I'm sure Avery is going to give me a run for my money when she's a teenager.

Sara said...

It never gets easier, I swear.

Plain Jame said...

OK, I feel the same way. My 2nd girl came out screaming and was so sweet until about 18 months... I blog about it from time to time, but then I have in-laws that make me feel like a terrible person for ever saying anything about it. My husbands step sister even commented last week "anonymously" saying she was lucky her kids are just so good, and then went on to blog herself about how many "people" are complaining about their kids lately... Wow, I just hate it when people make you feel like they are so inferior, and also that your child just must be a rotten egg.

I believe that the strong willed girls are just as amazing and blessed as the sweet passive ones. They will rule the world someday! My daughter is about to turn 4 and you'd think she was enrolling for college next month... It's insanity how differently we are having to start approaching things...

Anyways, I know that things will get better as we learn to adapt to parenting our strong willed girls!!! They put the sass in sasparilla!