Help wanted

Dear readers, fellow parents, and strong-willed-children-turned-upstanding-citizens,

I need HELP. I need massive amounts of advice and ideas and guidance. And I need some reassurances.

Lillian has turned FOUR and I thought that meant her reign of TERROR and INSANITY and TORTURE TACTICS were over. But, I was wrong.

I love that she LOVES Spider-Man...I don't love how she tries to shoot me with webs when I ask her to put on pants.

I love that she LOVES Spider-Man…I don’t love how she tries to shoot me with webs when I ask her to put on pants.

She’s still a force to be reckoned with. She’s still a whirlwind of demand and stubbornness. She still won’t do whatever it is you want her to unless SHE wants to, and even then, she probably won’t because it wasn’t her idea.

It’s enough to make me weep with impatience and exhaustion and I-wanna-quit.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I LOVE HER FIERCELY. I DO.

I especially love her like this...

I especially love her like this…

But, I feel like all of our interactions of late have been a battle of wits and a war of wills, that every time I open my mouth to ask her to put her shoes on so we can go to her school, or go pee so we can go play, or get her coat on so we can go fetch her sister, I’m met with this horrible noise and a temper tantrum for the ages and a lava-filled “I don’t want to!”

I’m getting close to breaking. And I’m afraid I will break her spirit and her happiness and some days, SOME DAYS, I feel like I might physically lose it and break her and me and our family.

It’s awful. And scary.

So, I’m posing this question to you, dear readers, what would you suggest? How would you handle a ball of fury that will be awesome in the future, that will lead to a crazy incredible adult human being, but right now is slowly killing my will to be a stay-at-home-parent? How would you discipline? How would you negotiate without actually losing ground? How do you compromise without giving in?

She is one of Isaac's favourite people...mostly because she's INSANE and he thinks it's AWESOME.

She is one of Isaac’s favourite people…mostly because she’s INSANE and he thinks it’s AWESOME.

If you have any ideas at all, I’m all ears.

Because I love my baby, my troubled middle child, the one who tests me and pushes me and ultimately wows me every single day.

But I’m afraid for us, for our future, for our path. I want her to grow up as strong as she is, but kind and able to navigate this tricky world of ours. I want her to thrive and succeed and become the best she can become without being hindered by a childhood laced with anger and yelling and being in constant trouble. And I want us to still love each other when we both grow up…and not the obligatory love you hand out to the relatives you have to see and hug and chat with on the big holidays.

I adore that Sophie and Lillian are sisters...and I pray that they can have that sister bond the Sisterhood is blessed with.

I adore that Sophie and Lillian are sisters…and I pray that they can have that sister bond the Sisterhood is blessed with.

When (if) she has babies, I want to love on her and them. I want to be part of their lives. When she wins all the awards, I want to be in the front row or at the front table, leading the standing ovation, embarrassing her with my display of love, not making her resentful because it’s for show. And when she falls, as every person in the world does, I want to at least be considered on her list of people to call to help her stand back up again and make sure she knows she’s worth standing back up for.

She's growing up so fast...I don't want to ruin any of it.

She’s growing up so fast…I don’t want to ruin any of it.

I want all the things. How do I get them?

~ Julia

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7 thoughts on “Help wanted

  1. Julia, I don’t have kids, so I am uniquely unqualified to answer your question. But what I *can* say is that every other parent confronts this same question from a place almost as unqualified as mine. You are not a monster and neither is Lillian and if you let your obvious love for her guide all you do and say, you’re about halfway there already.
    My sister-in-law has a precocious three year old who has the family’s wilfulness and stubbornness in spades. She has two strategies.
    One–give a choice whenever possible. She doesn’t want to do something? Well, she has to do it anyway, but if you make it about her and let her choose between alternatives, then she’s exercising her own agency. If she doesn’t want to get dressed, a choice of what to wear seems to suddenly make her want to wear *something*.
    Two-consequences. As rigid and un-negotiable as you can make them, and EVERYONE is subject to them. If your child does or doesn’t do something, it means X happens. And X isn’t something you can change. It’s a consequence. “If you don’t put your toys away, then we can’t eat dinner. And Mommy’s hungry. Are you hungry? We were going to have (insert favourite food here), but I guess we can’t because your toys aren’t away.” And if she persists, *follow through*.
    This is keeping the worst of my niece’s behaviour under control, and my God, what a bright future that kid has.
    I suspect Lillian does, too. That kind of wilfulness actually bodes well for her future. She just needs to learn that her actions have consequences…and that’s something many adults don’t even know about.
    Sending strength and love. Not that you need it: you are both stronger and more loving than you realize.

  2. I agree with Ken. Choices!! Do u want milk in the red cup or the blue cup?? Either way she’s still drinking milk and she’ll feel more in control. Do you want to wear the blue pants or the red ones? Do uiu need help Hetti g that jacket on or can you do it yourself?
    And definitely consequences… that you will follow through on. Lillian behave in this store or you’ll go sit in the car by yourself ain’t gonna happen!! Lillian behave in this store or we will all leave, go home and we don’t get to do…X. And Follow Through.
    Letting them know in advance what to expect…we’re going to the library and we have to use quiet voices so we don’t disturb others.
    And rewarding them out of the blue, not when they expect it. Catch them being Good!! Lillian I Loved the way you helped Isaac with that, thank you.
    Kids love praise. Even over the smallest thing.
    Let me tell you, Beth was a strong child too. I always loved that about her. I totally understand your pain. Good luck my friend!! xo

  3. Also not a parent, but as an ECE I can agree that choices are your best friend. Make the choices all things you can live with, but she feels in control because she made the decision. Also, NEVER bluff. Never threaten something in the heat of the moment that you don’t intend to follow through on. They are smart and catch on to that very quickly!

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