Parents often say they have a strong willed child. Some children are a little wiser, shall we say, about heeding correction than others. Strong willed children can cause early gray hairs in some parents and moments of counting the days until they leave home for others. Forget trying to dedicate him to God, you are trying to merely survive his childhood!
I believe every child has the potential to be self-willed at any given moment. Remarkably, the behaviors of the self-willed child resemble those of the strong willed child. As parents, we want the “magic” secret for handling those moments when our child has drawn a line in the sand and dares us to cross it. How do we teach them obedience and avoid World War III in the process?
As mothers, we fall in love with our children before they are even born. We can’t wait to hold them in our arms and have wonderful dreams of what their childhood will be like. Those first few months are an exhaustive whirl of diapers, feedings and showing your beautiful baby to everyone.
We are so overjoyed when our children utter their first attempts at words. Many discussions are held (rivaling world summits) over whether the sounds were “MaMa” or “DaDa”. Then it happens. We have told our once precious child he cannot do what he wants to do. Or perhaps she cannot have what she wants to own. Suddenly, the words sound more like, “You don’t love me!” or the ever popular (and permanently banned in our house!) “I hate you!”
It seems like every where I turn these days, I hear about bullying. Back in the Leave It To Beaver days, a bully appears to have been the largest child in the class. Evidently, his mother never sent enough lunch, as his bullying efforts were always about getting more food. There appears to have been an average of one bully per class. You would think someone would have thought to just ask his mom to send more food, but evidently the idea never crossed their minds.
Fast forward to today and it seems like the halls of our schools are full of bullies. Now, instead of using their tactics as a way to score more food, it appears many of these children are terrorizing their peers just for the “sport” of it or to get their way. Honestly. it is not just children who are experiencing this rude verbal and physical behavior from their peers. I have noticed a steady rise in the same behavior amongst adults.
I just had one of those milestone birthdays this week. One of the yucky ones where the light from the candles forces people to reach for sunglasses. In our culture, I have lost all value. My modeling career will never happen now (because we all know it was only a matter of time and not looks!) and if I accomplish anything during the rest of my life, I will most likely be compared to Grandma Moses. Of course, I now get that wonderful mid-life crisis, when I can live only to please myself in an effort to re-capture the glories of my youth. It is my time to be Peter Pan.
Peter Pan used to be looked down upon as irresponsible. Now, he has become the poster child for everyone who wants to stay youthful. Which, in our country, is just about everyone. Now don’t get me wrong, I am all for moisturizing and not being too proud to swing on a swing set in the park. My issue is with parents who want to be a co-conspirator with their child instead of a parent. Or the parents who believe being an adult means becoming a drill Sargent. Or parents who ignore many of their child’s needs so they can live the life they had before having kids.
I hope I don’t get kicked out of the teaching profession for spilling all of our secrets. I’ll be honest, quite a few professional educators I know get a kick out of disciplining misbehaving children in public without their parent’s knowledge. How is that possible? We have mastered the “look”, a powerful tool that conveys the messages “Have you lost your mind?” and “I know you aren’t doing what I think you are doing.” all rolled into one. It is amazing how many out of control children immediately cave in and behave when given the “look” (even by a complete stranger).
Good teacher training programs aren’t just about how to convey knowledge to your students. They also teach you classroom management techniques. A friend and I were talking recently. We had been education majors together in college years ago. We decided that majoring in education had made us better parents. We laughed about how the classroom management techniques we had learned worked just as well at home with our own children.