I have a fiercely determined child. She’s smart, beautiful, creative, and once she puts her mind to something, there is no stopping her. You can try to slow her down, but actually stopping her from what she has set her heart on is highly unlikely. Raising Avianna Marilyn has been a learning process for me.
Avianna was born 5 years ago on a beautiful October morning. Her birth was the easiest out of my three girls. I was at the hospital for only 45 minutes before she was born, and the entire experience was amazing. I pushed three times, and this sweet little 7lbs 5oz baby girl was born. I like to say her birth was the first and last easy part of being Avianna’s mom.
Avianna never really cried as a newborn… she screamed — a loud, ear-piercing scream. My husband and I spent a good deal of the first year of her life trying to figure out how to make the screaming stop. I found that she loved to be close to me, so babywearing was a huge part of how we survived the early days. My Sakura Bloom and Tula were my go-to throughout her infancy and toddler stages.
Before Avianna, I thought my oldest was not the greatest sleeper, but oh if only I had known how good I had it. Avi would wake up between 4-4:30 a.m. on a regular basis. For months, I would angrily wake up with her and just try to pass the time as best I could until the sun came up. During one of these dark mornings – as I was simply trying to waste time and survive – I realized I had a choice to make… I could be grumpy as I sat with her, wishing she would sleep like other children, or I could embrace her and her internal time clock.
I made the decision to accept her and our time together. I would make the best of it… no matter how sleep-deprived I was. I would make coffee, and the two of us would spend quality time together, doing all sorts of quirky “Avi-lead” activities. Now, years later, I look back on this time with fond feelings. We bonded in those hours together, and I will cherish every one of those memories. Avianna still goes to sleep and wakes up early, but now that she’s older, I know she can be trusted to entertain herself. For that, I am thankful.
When you’re raising a fiercely determined child, it can be easy to get caught in the moment… Those moments you’re trying to get something done or get out the door and your strong-willed child digs their feet in and simply won’t move. In those hurried and rushed moments, it’s so easy to dig your feet in and battle your child. I strongly advise against this. I have learned that there is very little that I can make Avianna do.
Instead, I encourage you to step back and decide if it’s worth it – In other words, pick your battles. Is what you’re asking your strong-willed child necessary… Does it have to be done? Or does it have to be done that way? Often times, I find that the things I’m fighting with Avianna about are simply not worth the fight. On the other hand, if it is a necessary task, I’ve found it to be helpful to work with her to understand why it’s important. While I can’t always make her do what I want, she can be persuaded to do things once they make sense to her.
I don’t know if I will ever fully get the hang of raising a fiercely determined child, but I can tell you that I’m getting better at it each day. Avianna has broken me (in a good way), and has allowed me to view parenting in a new light. I have found that there really isn’t only one way to parent a child. The way I taught my oldest does not usually work with Avianna. At first, I thought that meant I was doing something wrong, but I learned overtime that she simply has a different way of learning and doing things – and that is okay.
For example – Rather than drawing on paper, she sometimes draws on herself. Some days, her hair is a mess simply because she did not want me to brush it that morning. Sometimes she is wears a fairy dress to school because that’s what she decided she wanted to wear that day. But you know what – she is also one of the kindest, most vibrant and intelligent children I know. I may look like a hot mess in the eyes of other parents, but I know that I’m doing my very best to raise this beautiful, fiercely determined child. I also know that strong little girls grow up to be strong, bold, confident women that make a difference, and I cannot wait to see what she has in store for this world.
With all that to say, here are a few tips that I’ve learned through this journey and may help you as you raise your strong and fiercely determined child:
1. Babywearing is a MUST. I recommend you purchase a good baby carrier for the younger years. This will help you through so many situations when your child simply needs to be close to you to feel secure. PLUS, you will be able to get things done while comforting them. Babywearing has been a lifesaver for us.
2. Stop. Breath. Think. When your child starts to fight you on something, remember to stop, breath and think about whether the task you’re requesting they do is really that important. If it is, work with your fiercely determined child to help them understand why you need them to cooperate with you. If not, then I recommend loosening the reigns.
For example: Avianna loved to color on herself. I used to get upset and insisted that she only color on her paper. This was a rule for my oldest that was never challenged, but that was not the case for Avianna. I finally came to the point of realization that it would not be the end of the world if she used her skin as her canvas. I loosened the reigns and I have to say – we are all much happier.
3. Use humor as often as possible. I have found that humor works to diffuse stressful and tense moments every so often. Whether I’m singing in an opera voice while asking them to clean their room or having a dance party to chase the grumpy feelings out of the house, I try to keep things light and fun as often as possible.
4. Coffee. Coffee. Coffee. Strong women need strong coffee. Keep this oh so truthful mug by your side to remind you who you are and all the things you can accomplish with your trusted sidekick, coffee.
5. Ask for help. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and take a break. This is not only a necessity for you as a mama, but your little one too. The more rested you are, the more patient you will be.
6. Be patient with yourself. You have never done this before… You will not be perfect at it, but at the end of the day, your child knows you love them and they will forgive you. So please – forgive yourself when you make a mistake or two or thirty… and remember – you are one good mom.
7. Remember you’re raising a world-changer. When times get tough, try to remember what an incredible honor it is to raise a fiercely-determined child because these children grow up and become the forces of change.
8. Let go and enjoy the moments. And finally, remember to let go of things that don’t always necessarily need to get done. Here is a great blog post I wrote to help you walk through letting go.