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Parenting Kids, Christian Parents

Toddler vs. Parent: Surviving the Showdown

  • Michael Smalley, M.A. Michael Smalley is a marriage and family counselor
  • 2000 10 Oct
  • COMMENTS
Toddler vs. Parent: Surviving the Showdown
Embarrassing! I hate to share this story, but I know, or at least hope, that I am not alone. I'm talking on the phone with a friend and my daughter, Reagan, comes out of nowhere, obviously very frustrated, and hits me on the knee. Now this is not allowed in our household, and is one of the worst "crimes" our children can commit.

I hang up the phone and look at Reagan and ask, "Are you allowed to hit Daddy?" She takes a moment to think, and as only a two-year old can, looks at me with that strong-willed child glare and nods her head in a positive motion. "No ma'am!" I quickly pick her up and head for her bedroom with Reagan screaming at the top of her lungs, "NO! I don't want a time out!"

Now the struggle begins. If you have a strong-willed child, you can relate. It's the time when your child is not going to budge. I put her in the crib and leave the room for her time-out to begin. After two minutes I return and ask one simple question, "Are you allowed to hit Daddy?" Guess what her response was? A slow nodding and affirming yes! So I give her another time-out, and the same thing happens. I come back into the room and Reagan again nods, affirming that she is allowed to hit. I can't believe it!

Now I'm starting to escalate as much as my 2-year old! For 30 minutes Reagan and I battle it out. I'm yelling and becoming more frustrated with every affirming nod. At this point I'm thinking things that the Division of Family Services would definitely not approve of, and she is not responding any better, not even close to what I wanted to hear from her.

At this point I get so frustrated I literally fall to my knees in prayer, begging God to give me some direction, in fact, hoping God will set something on fire in the room to grab Reagan's attention, and then announce to my rebellious daughter, "OBEY YOUR FATHER, FOR HE IS PERFECT AND WORTHY OF YOUR PRAISE!"

Of course, sadly enough, that did not happen. Instead, during my moment of prayer after an hour of dealing with my daughter, God clearly said to me, "You know ... You're no better than your daughter." Whoa! I wasn't the one rebelling, but God wanted me to know that I was yelling and not treating my daughter the way God had commanded. I began to realize my attitude was escalating Reagan even more than she already was! I wasn't helping the situation by being equally upset and equally unruly.

Even if we have a strong-willed child, rebellion or misbehavior never gives us the right to mistreat our children. We are commanded to treat them with respect and to guide them in the ways God encourages. Peacefulness, love, kindness, sacrifice, patience, good will, and other traits are important to teach our children, and the best way to teach them is by modeling the correct behavior.

The next time your child makes disciplining difficult, remember to ask God for guidance in maintaining the proper attitude. As for Reagan, it took over two hours to get her to admit and take ownership of why she was in trouble. I had to remain consistent and patient. Remember, especially with a strong-willed child, consistency and sticking with it are two of the most important rules for a parent. Even when it takes over two hours, the dividends will pay off when your child grows up to become a loving and mature adult.

Get more tips on parenting and relationships at the Smalley Relationship Center.

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