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Unprepared for Parenting (Ezzos, Pearls, Etc.) *Public* Support and information for those affected by the Ezzos, the Pearls, and other punitive and adversarial methods of child-rearing.
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Old 01-13-2011, 10:55 AM   #1
mystweaver
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Question Strong-Willed Children Vs. Gentle Discipline

Yesterday, my dad and I had a hypothetical conversation about gentle parenting and the way I'm going to parent vs. the way he parented. (He won't be convinced that his way wasn't best, but he's very open to hypothetical conversations as long as I don't have children.)

One of the things he said was that he saw other gentle parents and liked their approach, but it wasn't for our family. "They had kids who would cry if you glared at them, so they didn't need to be harsh. You kids were stubborn. It took a lot more to get through to you."

They like to remind us that 3 out of 4 kids were strong-willed/stubborn (I now claim that title with pride), and they didn't have any other options. 2 of those 3 were also ADHD + food allergies, and the one who wans't stubborn had some developmental delays + significant allergies, so I can see how they were overwhelmed, but

Sometimes I think their harsh approach was half the problem: since my mom wasn't especially stubborn (except when her pride was on the line), I feel like they set themselves up for failure with the adversarial approach. On the other side, they feel like they would have been trampled as parents if they had let their stubborn children 'loose' like gentle parenting suggested.

Since I haven't actually tried to gently parent any strong-willed children, I couldn't really respond to that. I know it works in theory. How would you explain it (to someone who was open to hypothetical conversations, but not a critique of his parenting).

(Please excuse the influx of questions/new threads. My dad and I had about 2 hours of talking yesterday that led to a bunch of 'aha!' moments on my end.)
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Old 01-13-2011, 11:02 AM   #2
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Default Re: Strong-Willed Children Vs. Gentle Discipline

Well, for one thing, if you punitively parent a strong-willed child, that child is just going to dig in his heels, making for a wicked adversarial spiral.

I'm sure other mamas have more coherent BTDT things to say, but that's the first thing that came to mind. Oh, and the parent blaming the child for "having" to hit/be harsh. Classic abuse mentality, classic punitive parenting.
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Old 01-13-2011, 11:09 AM   #3
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Default Re: Strong-Willed Children Vs. Gentle Discipline

As a spirited child who is now an adult raising multiple spirited children I agree with what Nadezhda said about digging in their heals. They may not even care one wit about the action topic or direction but it is all about how it is presented.

I was raised by parents who believed in GBD and instead of believing I was stubborn, mule-headed and opinionated. I was raised believing I was independent, free thinking and passionate. Paradigm shift.
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Old 01-13-2011, 12:00 PM   #4
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Default Re: Strong-Willed Children Vs. Gentle Discipline

After being punitive, and changing over to a gentle parenting style...I'm finding the kids, no matter what their challenges before, are more likely to open up to me and work with me than against me. I think it's easier...though nothing is going to make parenting totally easy.
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Old 01-13-2011, 12:03 PM   #5
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Default Re: Strong-Willed Children Vs. Gentle Discipline

My response: the world needs more strong willed people (esp women). If we smush it out of them as kids how can we expect them to start being strong willed when they need to be (against peer pressure, for example)? How can we expect them to push through when things get difficult if we have broken that desire as they were young?

Being strong willed makes my job harder as a parent of young kids....but it will make their lives as adults better.
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Old 01-13-2011, 12:10 PM   #6
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Default Re: Strong-Willed Children Vs. Gentle Discipline

I once had someone in church tell me the reason I couldn't spank is because I had easy children. The children's minister looked at me and we both started laughing hysterically.

I don't have easy children. But being strong-willed is a WONDERFUL thing! It shows strength of character and determination, and I would *hate* to squelch that because it can more difficult to parent.

Food allergies and ADHD are difficult to parent. We have our fair share of health problems that make life much more complicated. But it's not about results. It's about relationship - and people with good relationships work together to get the results of a shared goal.
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Old 01-13-2011, 12:12 PM   #7
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Default Re: Strong-Willed Children Vs. Gentle Discipline

I saw that dynamic between dd and her teacher...at the end of the day, dd didn't do what the teacher demanded. Sometimes I need to convince dd, explain more, negotiate a bit on how it gets done, etc., but often at the end of the day I can get her to willingly cooperate. Just because I'm gentle doesn't mean that I necessarily bend on everything...some things are still required, somethings are still forbidden, but there's a lot more listening and talking...some things I realize are not important, some things she realizes why I need her to comply. Overall, in the net gain, she gets more accomplished when I'm gentle than when I'm inflexible.
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Old 01-13-2011, 12:50 PM   #8
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Default Re: Strong-Willed Children Vs. Gentle Discipline

I am SO thankful for GCM because DD definitely would be classified as a strong-willed child. Adversarial parenting would have caused me to be frustrated and upset all day long every day while needing to "win". Gentle parenting allows me to enjoy my daughter and her personality, to expect her to act like a child, and to gently correct her if her actions will cause harm to herself or others.
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Old 01-13-2011, 07:00 PM   #9
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Default Re: Strong-Willed Children Vs. Gentle Discipline

I am soooo glad we aren't doing punitive stuff with our "strong-willed" ds3.... I think he might well have responded to it by becoming almost unmanageable. As it is, he generally cooperates (though definitely in his own way).
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Old 01-13-2011, 08:09 PM   #10
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Default Re: Strong-Willed Children Vs. Gentle Discipline

I know with my DH, the more we demand, the more he digs in his heals, He is definately a spirited child who feels/smells/hears things most of us don't even register. It is a lot for him to take in, and people pressuring him just adds to that which leads to more over-stimulation, which just doesn't end well. Letting him know he is loved, and heard, and helping him in his way is really the only way our family can function. Without gentle parenting, we would be in a constant powere struggle. I think he deserves more than that!
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Old 01-14-2011, 06:17 AM   #11
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Default Re: Strong-Willed Children Vs. Gentle Discipline

I've run out of tools in my toolbox with Landon before and resorted to spanking (3 times in his life). Strong-willed doesn't even begin to describe this boy. The only thing that spanking accomplished was to turn him violent. I spanked and he turned around and attacked me. I'm glad I don't bruise, because I would've been black and blue. I absolutely cannot parent punitively if I want to make any head-way with him. The more gentle I am and the more I can remain calm the better we both act. I'm the adult, it is up to me to maintain the atmosphere of our house. If I lose it, he will lose it brilliantly.

Yes, there are things that punitive parents will see as me letting him have his way or letting him "get away" with things. Those are just not hills I'm willing to die on. On those hills that it is necessary to take a stand, I do. I just try to do it in a way that respects him as a human instead of a second-class citizen simply because he is a child.

It is hard to parent a strong-willed child, but I think doing it gently is extra hard because of the outside pressure. I still have trouble ignoring that and tuning out what other people think.
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Old 01-14-2011, 08:16 AM   #12
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Default Re: Strong-Willed Children Vs. Gentle Discipline

I'm a strong-willed person. I can out-stubborn anyone on the planet.

I have a strong-willed child.

When I am not intentionally parenting her with gentle firmness, I have the ability to dig in my heels and destroy her. Obviously, that's not in her best interest. And I do everything in my power to avoid that dynamic.

Reframing that resoluteness has helped a lot! Rather than having it a strong-willed me vs. child paradigm, I have changed it. Our paradigm is that of one dragon-tamer mentoring another dragon-tamer. Instead of labeling the strong will as a bad thing and being in opposition to it. I'm trying to help myself and my daughter identify what the real issue is - and then focus our resolute desires to conquer evil on the true problem.

So, IRL, instead of getting frustrated with DD for making us late for school every morning, and having her dig her heels in on getting things done in a timely manner (which we tried that, and yeah, didn't work), I identified the problem as the Dragon of Being Late. By identifying the problem as something we can fight together, I stopped the tension between ourselves, and invited her in on the problem solving. This allowed her to be able to brainstorm and join in on the side of being on-time, without feeling under attack.

Oh, and when we are able to tame the Dragon of Being Late, according to my daughter we turn into On Time Unicorns, who drive to school on sparkly rainbows.

This is gentle parenting. I still spend time each morning ensuring she gets everything ready on time, but instead of fighting ME, she's fighting the Dragon. I'm not taking the fight away from her, just redirecting it to more productive targets.
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Old 01-14-2011, 09:28 AM   #13
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Default Re: Strong-Willed Children Vs. Gentle Discipline

Jefinner, I absolutely love that! My girls' at least my middle child would adore that reframing. We are constantly running behind for school and taming dragons turning into unicorns and riding rainbows is right up her alley.
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Old 01-14-2011, 10:25 AM   #14
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Default Re: Strong-Willed Children Vs. Gentle Discipline

Quote:
Originally Posted by NewCovenantMama View Post
I am soooo glad we aren't doing punitive stuff with our "strong-willed" ds3.... I think he might well have responded to it by becoming almost unmanageable. As it is, he generally cooperates (though definitely in his own way).

That is PRECISELY what happened to Maximus.

Quote:
Originally Posted by babyb4us View Post
I know with my DH, the more we demand, the more he digs in his heals, He is definately a spirited child who feels/smells/hears things most of us don't even register. It is a lot for him to take in, and people pressuring him just adds to that which leads to more over-stimulation, which just doesn't end well. Letting him know he is loved, and heard, and helping him in his way is really the only way our family can function. Without gentle parenting, we would be in a constant powere struggle. I think he deserves more than that!
And this was me as a child.
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Old 01-14-2011, 10:46 AM   #15
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Default Re: Strong-Willed Children Vs. Gentle Discipline

I was (am) very strong-willed and do you know what spanking taught me? To not get caught. To act contrite in the present and plan better next time. To lie through omission instead of an outright lie because lying through omission is much more difficult for a parent to catch. Oh, and spanking really awakened fury in my heart. I wasn't really contrite after being spanked even though I could pretend to be fairly decently... I was angry - seething with rage - after being spanked.

I'm one of those who would do the opposite of what I was told just because someone told me to do it. I'm still that way to a degree, even though I consciously try not to react like that and usually succeed in resisting that urge now.

Yeah... and my mom's will was NO match for my will which made the teen years particularly rough for us. My dad was constantly mediating between the two of us (he's strong-willed too) and I had pretty much zero respect for my mom at all. We're on very good terms now, but back then... nope
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