A Window into Life in the Suburbs

"Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these." Luke 12:27 (NIV)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Fencing Her In

Our front fence is finished and is waiting idly for a fresh coat of paint. While I have fences on my mind, my thoughts gravitate toward the 4 year old.

I once read/heard someone say that a strong-willed child needs strong boundaries. Quite likely it's conventional wisdom, formed through observation over time. But it's very helpful to think along those lines. Strong-willed children are hard work, no doubt. However, as they get older I'm convinced that they can become very productive individuals. I frequently console myself that there's a payoff coming for this momentary hardship.

My strong-willed child needs to know if something is hers, if she doesn't, she will assume that it's hers for the taking. Pretty much anything that's not nailed down is fair game in her book. Even then I'm sure she'll find a way to pry the nail off the wall or floor.
My strong-willed child doesn't take "no" for an answer the first time. Or the fifth or sixth time. Or the tenth. Not even when she's taken a tumble. She'll whine and look forlorn and then she back up and running again in 30 secs flat.

My strong-willed child is a fussy eater. Covertly chucks food she doesn't like on the floor or on the booster seat. So she doesn't get fruit or dessert (on the rare occasion) if she doesn't eat veggies or finish her dinner. Logically, I reckon, she can't be that hungry if she's chucking stuff.
My strong-willed child is a fussy eater. It may take us between 5 to 10 attempts before she will actually eat something new without... er... fussing.
My strong-willed child needs to be fully engaged. A slight wiff of boredom and she think's she hungry or that it's time to transgress the boundaries.
My strong-willed child has not napped in the afternoons for almost 2 years. Seems to have boundless energy until about 6:30pm and then she crashes. I'm grateful for small mercies.
My strong-willed child has moods when it comes to having someone hold her hand while walking on the pavement or in car parks... which is very dicey stuff at times. One second... that's all it takes and she's off like a rabbit.

The upside of having one in the house is that she's independent and resourceful ie. full of initiative but the downside is that she doesn't really (understandably) grasp her own limitations by putting herself in harm's way with alarming regularity. Whether she's climbing a stack of chairs, racing around the room, breaking my stuff or waving her hands over the sizzling wok... she's a pint size daredevil... an accident waiting to happen.

Maybe it's all about being the second child. Wanting to be like big sister and doing what big sister does. And in our case, big sister is a lot older, with a better developed sense of danger. If anything, big sister errs on the side of timidity.

There's light at the end of the tunnel. As she matures, her ability to reason or to be reasoned with grows. But what a bumpy ride it has been. (At least the restraints keep the really crazy stuff from happening)


  1. Have you read "Raising your Spirited Child" by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka. I blogged a bit about it here: http://mmuser.blogspot.com/2010/12/parenting-difficult-childrencontinued.html
    Great book, I really recommend it.

  2. I saw it on Amazon a while back when I was looking at "Boundaries for a Strong-Willed Child". Haven't read it but will now since you've recommended it highly.


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