My kiddo has a mind of her own. She knows exactly what she wants. She wants to do everything herself – common among toddlers and in our household she gets to do it. If something doesn’t go her way, she puts up a fight. She is all of four years old.
As parents, it’s not always easy to manage her sense of independence. She throws a fuss at unexpected times to get what she wants – power struggles are very common which sometimes leads to misbehavior. This gets worse when she is hungry or tired.
I was worried initially about her determination and everyday power struggles. But I realized that having an independent child is better than making her obedient. We can scold, punish, bend and mold her to be obedient, but is that what we want – An obedient girl who just listens to what elders tell her! That’s the last thing I want for her. Being independent gives her confidence. She forms opinion of her own. She comes across as clever and friendly.
Here are the things that work for me to handle my kiddo’s Independence and still get socially acceptable behavior from her.
Avoid power struggles:
This is something unavoidable. My only tip is to know when to give-up. I offer her choices to begin with. For example, I give her choice of 2-3 dresses to pick from. This way she wears something decent that we both can agree upon.
Don’t react negatively:
Patience is virtue. I seek to understand what the kid wants, what is the root of her misbehavior. My hubby has loads of patience in this department. I look up to him to handle her. He always validates her emotions and gives a name to her feeling. Reprimanding for misbehavior or labeling her bad is something that should be avoided at all cost.
It’s a known fact that kids fare well in an established routine. If they know what is coming next they will be prepared for it. It’s not always possible to keep the child in routine. She needs to get out of house, engage in social activities, react to situations and still behave appropriately. To make it easy on kiddo, I try to explain to her as much as I can about the exercise. I also tell her what is expected of her and how she is supposed to behave.
My husband has set up a great reward system for her. Whenever she behaves well she gets star stickers of various colours, she gets to choose which one she wants. We also praise her for good behavior and ask her to behave exactly the same way next time.
The more we expose kids to situations the more they learn. They adapt, get comfortable and confident. The more the challenge, the quicker they master. We just have to suppress the tendency to compare our kid with others and the craving to make them obedient. I confess that I am still learning all these, after all that’s what parenting is – to continuously learn and grow with kiddo.
Divya Rao is a mother to a 3.5 yr old bundle of joy. She has one eye set on growing her career and the other watching and enjoying her little one grow up.