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Joyful Musings--a weekly blog

Joyful Parenting Coaching is focused on clarity, consistency, connection, being an effective parent, finding balance as a parent, and above all being a confident and joyous parent. Topics include communication, having difficult conversations, having constructive conversations, chores, routines, family meetings,  I teach parent education and parenting classes because parenting is a skill—not something we are born knowing. Get the parenting skills you need today!

From Monster to Citizen

Elisabeth Stitt


I wish I could show you a picture of my girl.  I'd say, Isn't she beautiful?

And she's pretty fantastic, if a mom may brag.  
And as a toddler she was fantastic, too--fantastically strong-willed, fantastically persistent, and fantastically hard.  
Seriously.  On her first birthday, I woke up and burst into tears.  Everyone had told me that if I made it through the first year, I would be just fine.  Well, I knew that with this kid, year two was going to be twice as hard and boy, oh boy, was I right.  

When she was a baby, I could distract Julie from something she wanted or could charm her through things she didn't want to do.  Then it was a like a switch went off.  She used to look at me like, uh, Mom, you know I'm not really that stupid.  I was going for that electrical outlet and even taking me into the other room isn't going to make me forget that.   She had very clear ideas about what she wanted--and it felt like 90% of the day, it was the exact opposite of what I wanted.  Other children you could distract or redirect.  Other children would sit quietly on your lap--at least for a little bit.  Other children did not have to discover everything for themselves (Is it really hot, Mom?  Maybe it is not as hot as you think.  I better touch it and find out for myself!). 

Julie was a late talker.  For a long time she used muh, duh and bah to communicate most of her needs.  Her one articulate phrase early on was I do!  

Well, there wasn't enough time in the day to let her do everything on her own.  The result was what felt like around 18 months of nonstop crying, whining, kicking, and running away from me.

I thought it was going to do me in.  But I guess my daughter comes by her personality naturally because when the going gets tough, the tough get going.  

In a moment of clarity--after the end of an especially horrific day--I realized that one of us was going to have to be the adult--and I guessed it was going to have to be me.  

So, what did I do?  Well, for one, I continued to love her to pieces and to give her a ton of empathy that it is hard when you want to do things by yourself, your way, and that just is not going to work for everyone else.  Then I set firm limits, breathed deeply through her crying jags, and waited her out.  Slowly, the combination of knowing she could trust me not to budge if she had a fit and the increase in her own physical competence meant she was able to do a lot more on her own and when she couldn't, it wasn't a need for tears.  

That time seemed like it went on for ever, but as I look back, really as she approached three, she was a quite reasonably civil human being most of the time.  

And now?  Wow.  Words cannot describe how proud I am of her.