“I’m currently dealing with a very (!) strong willed busy 3 yr old and trying not to use material rewards. I prefer using positive reinforcement as a tool . . . hugs and praise when she makes a good choice (i.e. use words or get help instead of lashing out on her little brother when he bothers her).”
Children are born with different temperaments. Some are quiet, introverted and compliant. But some are loud, disruptive and well,
defiant not compliant. It gets really frustrating when a child decides that he does not like your plan for the day, or that she will not stop pouring paint on the carpet, hitting her brother or screaming.
Intervening often makes it worse, because these children seem to thrive on noise and tension. Yet if you do nothing, you feel like a helpless wimp. And you worry about how this all affects the other children in the family, if you have them. Most of all, you wonder how you will possibly stay sane.
A while back I managed to write some sensible things about dealing with challenging children. To summarize:
- Let go of guilt.
- Get your partner involved.
- Make time for yourself.
- Don’t allow physical or emotional abuse, including among siblings. Never let children abuse you either.
- Maximize time for positive relationships with the challenging child. Someone outside the immediate family may be better at connecting for the time being.
- Get help from a support group, counselor or therapist as needed.
Many of these are long term solutions, and don’t help you deal with the events as they are happening.
What techniques work for you when an excitable child spins things out of control? Can you give suggestions for Selena, and the many other readers dealing with strong-willed kids?