You probably saw me at Target the other day. I was the mom with a kid kicking and screaming on the ground. He wanted a Kit Kat at 10:32 am, and I wouldn't allow him. I knew this was going to happen. I knew he was going to drop to the floor and throw a fit. Because when you are parenting a defiant child this is part of life.
In that moment, my cheeks felt so hot with embarrassment that I wanted to make a mad dash for the fitting room, hide, and pretend this wasn't my life.
Parenting a defiant child may be the hardest thing you ™ll ever do. Each day you wake up and think today is the day your child cooperates, doesn't complain, and does what you say. But it doesn't really go that way. Your day continues with power struggles, bedtime battles and not listening.
This breaks you down, and I understand exactly where you are coming from. Before I had kids, I had all the patience in the world. Kids seemed all cute and cuddly and adorable. Now, I struggle with anger as a mom. Many days I feel tired and crabby and irritable. Many days I feel not good enough.
This is parenting a defiant child.
You are tired from all the power struggles and not listening. Some days you secretly want to give them the iPad, a gallon tub of chocolate ice cream and call it a day.
But, mama? You are doing some amazing work in the world of a little person right now. So first, take a deep breath. And then, remember five very important things:
Your child's brain is healthy and thriving.
Your child's opposition is a key sign of a healthy, thriving and growing brain. Your child is understanding that she is separate from you. She is testing to understand boundaries and how the world works. She is learning how to express emotions, and also, how to self-regulate those big and intense feelings.
You are setting boundaries.
As parents, we are here to set boundaries. Firm boundaries. Despite your child's defiance and protesting and tears, do not fill your cup with self-doubt, embarrassment and negative self-talk. You are doing a good thing.
Your child thinks outside the box.
Kids who defy authority brainstorm ideas that are beyond the status quo. They have gusto and gall. They break rules and make new ones. At some point, your child is going to be an adult and she is going to find herself in a mess of a problem. And you know what? She's going to have the wherewithal to find her way out, even when you are not there.
Your child will resist peer pressure.
Your child is the one who is more likely to stand up against a bully. Your child is the one who will speak up when she sees someone cheating on a test. Your child is the one who will go to a high school party and turn down the tiny blue pill and tell all her friends to do the same.
Your child is a future leader.
Did you know that research shows defiant kids are more likely to grow into self-motivated, intelligent entrepreneurs? Your child is going to put her defiant characteristics to good use someday soon. She will buck the system, discovering new and innovative ways to do things.
Defiant kids require strong leaders.
When you are in the midst of your hardest parenting moment, don't give up, mama. Don't buy the Kit Kat and don't run for the fitting room at Target.
Set a boundary, stay strong, and know you are doing amazing work in the world of a little person right now. Let the little things go and know that one day your child is going to make one helluva person. You ™ll look back on those days at Target when your cheeks felt hot. When everyone stared and watched. When you stayed calm and set a boundary. And you ™ll remember that it was all worth it.