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Do you have a strong-willed kid? Let me share my story and how I changed my perception.
Two years ago, I received a note from my son’s first-grade teacher which said, “I need to talk to you.” I felt that lump in my throat, my ears buzzed, and my face felt hot. I knew this would be a hard and confrontational conversation.
You see, the beginning of my parenting journey felt pretty easy. I had a normal and fast birth, he was a happy baby, and we practiced all the tenants of Attachment Parenting.
Things were perfect!
Until his sister came along…….
Initially, he wanted to throw his new baby sister in the garbage. Yet, at 18 months old, he formed his determined personality where he could tell me his likes and dislikes. He also had strong wardrobe opinions where he wore the same fireman boots for two years.
He was a normal strong-willed toddler!
I did what all of the early childhood books said to do… “validate his feelings, talk ‘toddler-ease,’ and give him choices.”
As he grew and started preschool, his toddler behavior continued. He felt angry, resentful, and mad. It was exhausting!
Around his 5th birthday, he always melted down in school. He complained the buzzing kid noises made his ears hurt. Since he attended a Montessori, they worked hard to meet his needs and redirect his behavior. Yet, I still felt something was wrong.
In a panic, I researched everything I could about Sensory Processing Disorder. Completely convinced he needed therapy, I had him evaluated and his results came back normal therefore he did not qualify for therapy.
Here was a child who loved to learn from experience, who was self-directed, yet had big passionate feelings. I didn’t know what to do!
When I met with this first-grade (public school) teacher, she felt concerned that he lacked the intrinsic motivation to read and write. His classroom spelling and reading tests were atrocious, though his standardized test scores were normal to above average. Whenever she pushed him, he pushed back.
He refused to do the work!
My child was strong-willed!
At the parent-teacher conference, we discussed my son’s academic progress. My experience as an elementary art teacher made me feel comfortable talking “teacher lingo.”
We discussed his need to play with paper clips, erasers, and pencils in order to comprehend information. This felt logical to me because I learn the exact same way! To his teacher, this behavior distracted the class.
We discussed his teacher’s differentiation strategies. (The ability of a teacher to provide students with different avenues to learn.) She “prided” herself in her differentiation strategies without giving me concrete evidence how her strategies benefitted my child.
At this point, I felt completely frustrated and unheard.
I left the meeting without any real sense of resolution. In the end, my head buzzed and my heart hurt. Before I walked out of the classroom, I heard the words that sparked a fire in my soul.
The teacher said, “Well, I guess he’s just going to have a meltdown with me.”
I ran out of the room feeling too angry to respond. What parent or teacher wanted their child or student to have a meltdown in school? This felt archaic!
Frustrated, I went home and researched strategies that would help my son feel successful. I shared them with his classroom teacher and we came to a resolution.
My son finished first grade with a smile on his face.
What did I learn?
I realized that other people’s perceptions of my child will not define him. While other’s define him as strong-willed, I choose to see my child as:
- a leader
I choose to let go, change the negative perceptions, and see my child as a super kid!
If you are struggling to parent your superkid, I want to offer this amazing tool for you. My friend Dayna Abraham has written The Superkids Activity Guide to help you see your kids in a different way and change your language surrounding their behaviors. Moreover, this book is written to kids, using a language they understand.