So after a few days of seeing new behaviors from my two-year-old child my husband and I were talking and he said, "He's got a stubborn streak. I wonder where he got that?" I thought to myself, "Oh man we need to combat this right away!" Well combat is a bad word choice, how about figure out this personality streak. So I dug up a book that my really good friend recommended to me. She and her husband have two wonderful boys. And every time I talk to her I wonder why I don't call her more often for parental advice. Anyway, the book she recommended to me is Parenting Your Powerful Child: Bringing an End to the Everyday Battles by Dr Kevin Leman.
Yes children are powerful. We were all born to want and have power. Not tyrannical power, but power over our circumstances and to control our own lives. It is inherent in us. That is why as soon as a child is born he or she will start using whatever tactics he or she knows will work to get attention and what he or she wants and or needs. And according to Dr Leman, if nothing is done to control, recognize and tame the behavior for the good of everyone in the family, then that child will grow up and continue to behave in the same manner into adulthood. Hmmmm... not quite what I envision my son to be like when in his 30's.
I find this book pretty fascinating, because as I'm reading, I'm also self evaluating my childhood and what I remember. And, really when I think of childhood it doesn't seem like it changed much, but when you are raising your own child, there are plenty of changes all the time. Let's face it no one likes change, but change is inevitable. Sometimes it's what makes us not like life very much, but as a parent you have to be prepared for, accept them and continue on with these changes happening within the family.
Now back to this stubborn streak, aka power surge. So from what I'm learning is that my child's behavior is pretty much his way of gaining power. I don't blame him. The thing is I need to know and understand is power. God created us to have dominion (power) over "...the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground (Genesis 1:26, NIV).” Ok, so this means over everything except other humans. Yes, parents are to protect and teach their children and have responsibility for their children, but do not have to have and are not to have dominion over them. Now I'm not saying we should't be in control, because when a child is young and has no experience we must teach them what is right and what is wrong. But forcing dominion over a child does not really benefit the parent or give him or her control. If anything it will ignite a fire in the child to figure out how to get control. So as a parent we must find solutions to introduce power to our children.
For example when we have a mess on the floor with toys and my son wants to get out another toy, we might say, "Uh Oh! we are running out of room on the floor. When you are ready to pick up your toys that you are finished with then we can get out the new toys." You see they will learn that there are rewards to picking up and keeping tidy (less broken and lost toys). Now I'm not saying this always goes smoothly, but a consistency of him picking up first has to happen and will without yelling, crying or temper tantrums. Sometimes we do remove him to a quite sitting place and remind him that when he is ready to pick up his toys that he is finished with then he can get out his new toys. He sometimes sits for a few minutes and sometimes he goes to work right away. Either way praise can be given for a great decision in picking up before getting out new toys. He had power over when he was going to complete the task.
Whew! No easy task for a parent. We must always be thinking ahead and on our toes to teach our children the right kind of power while we exercise it ourselves. It's hard to let go of some, but we must to teach our kids how to deal with life, and in life everyone is searching and trying to get power over their circumstances.