Strong Willed and Stubborn

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Owen is a strong willed and stubborn child.  I love him just as he is and wouldn’t want to change his personality for anything, but I have to admit that it can be exhausting at times.  Really exhausting.

His temper tantrums are not anything like Ryan’s were at this age.  I am certain we went through this stage with Ryan, but for the life of me don’t really remember it. I”m not sure why.  Maybe it’s because Owen was an infant at the time and our sleep deprivation was getting the best of us.  Maybe it’s because we blocked it out of memory and only wanted to remember the good moments.  I don’t know.

But regardless, I’m exhausted right now.  I made an appointment for Owen to meet with his pediatrician and talk about this behavior and ways to manage it. I was worried that there could be more to his behavior than we realized.  I wasn’t sure what to expect from our appointment, but was hopeful for some help in getting past this stage.

Dr. Avril Beckford was extremely helpful.  She observed him and watched his interactions and the way he handled various situations alone as well as with his brother.  She observed interactions with me and with authority (her).  She asked me numerous questions.

After her observations and hearing all of my answers, she looked at me and smiled and said that we had nothing to worry about.  We just had a child with a strong personality.

Should I be relieved?

Don’t get me wrong, I was very relieved.  But now what?  Why was he behaving this way?

Basically, Owen is “on” all day and controlling himself in his school environment.  He is not aggressive and does not fight back.  He does not hit and bite at school.  He lets other children take toys and books out of his hands and does not put up a fight.  He spends his energy controlling himself all day long.

So when he comes home he is exhausted and tired and has a short fuse.  He feels safe and comfortable with us and lets his guard down.  He hits us and bites us and throws temper tantrums.  He is in his safe zone.  And that makes sense.  It is in line with the behavior I was noticing and the difference in it between home and school.

And while the temper tantrums are not fun, he is in his safe zone at home.  He is loved unconditionally and knows that.  And that means a lot to me.

But how are we going to survive this stage?

Dr. Beckford also explained that Owen is having an issue with authority.  Essentially he isn’t respecting mommy and daddy and pushes back on us.  He is trying to be in control of the situation rather than us. Which is exactly true.  If we scold him he hits and says “NO!”  If we put him in time out he just gets up and follows us out of the room crying and hitting.

Yes, I do walk him back to time out and set him back down, but like I mentioned he is strong willed and stubborn.  He just gets back up and follows me out again.  And again.  And again.

It’s exhausting.

She explained that I have to step out of the coddling mommy role for a minute and use a deeper (different) voice.  She said to keep it simple and just use two words “No hit!”  “No bite!” or whatever the behavior is.  She said to be somewhat harsh to startle him.  And then turn and walk away from him without waiting for a reaction.

She also said that he will probably cry because he is startled and confused and no longer in control.

And then after a moment walk back to him and be the comforting mommy and love on him.

I have to admit it’s working.  He does look at me confused when I scold him in a harsher voice and he does get a huge pouting lip and tears stream from his eyes, but when I come back to comfort him he’s a different child.  It’s amazing to see.

Before it was just a vicious cycle of temper tantrums and we were all frustrated, including Owen.  None of us knew what to do or how to break it.  It was exhausting.

Now at least we have a plan that is working for this stage.  It may not always work or continue to work, but hopefully we can break this cycle and get back on track.  And I can honestly say that my patience has increased and my frustration is nowhere near where it was a few weeks ago.

Thank you Dr. Beckford for taking the time to observe, evaluate and discuss this with us.

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  1. This is great info!

    I have found the book 1-2-3 magic to have made a WORLD of difference with my 3 & 5 year olds. Before that I could NOT outlast my 3 year old in the return to timeout battle, to save my life.

    Some one has recommended to me the Dobson, Strong Willed Child book, but I haven’t read that, and 1-2-3 magic is working.

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. Aww, such a good mama. My baby is 11 months old and I know these days are just ahead and it frightens me. Why can’t they stay little and innocent forever! LOL!

  3. Sounds like you are blessed with a Dr. who really cares. That’s awesome. We love our pediatrician, but I hear of not so great ones all the time from my friends. Glad things have turned the corner for you to get a breath and get ready for the next stage…whatever it may be. 🙂

    • Typical Suburban Family says:

      We are very lucky. She is wonderful and the boys love her. When she comes into the room she gets right down on the floor at their level and gives them great big hugs. She talks to them at their level and is just the sweetest doctor. Love her!! I’m glad to hear that you love yours as well because it makes a big difference to have someone you can trust and be honest with and receive feedback from. I too hear of the not so great doctors and it’s just horrible.

  4. I’m so nervous to get to that stage! And I think it is just like anything else in parenting – you feel bad about being so harsh and strict for them, but really it is the BEST thing you can do for them. As long as you make sure you don’t do it from a position of anger, but you are doing it because you love them and you want to help them, that is the most important thing!

    • Typical Suburban Family says:

      You got it exactly right. It’s so hard to parent and be strict. Our pediatrician even said that when I turn and walk away from him after scolding him that I’ll probably have tears streaming down my face. And she was right. But…. on the flip side I do see how it’s working and how it’s what he needs and that makes me feel better. In just one week he is having way less tantrums. A victory! I know we are a long way from being out of this stage, but a victory none-the-less 🙂

  5. Oh so very helpful! And really funny since I just posted about how the kids have officially started hitting each other!

    • Typical Suburban Family says:

      It’s such a challenging age. They can be so sweet and loving one minute and the next minute they are not so fun. Good luck and keep us posted on how they are doing!!

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