TRANSFORM that STRONG-WILLED CHILD into a STRONG WOMAN or MAN
It can happen! Now with a young man of 21 years old, and a maturing young man of 12 yrs old, I can see the light. And realize that in spite of myself, I DID SOMETHING RIGHT.
RECITE to make it RIGHT
One thing I tried when homeschooling my youngest son, that did wonders, was to create a CALM DOWN LIST. It was a list of to do's that taught him (by reciting daily and whenever he had problems controlling his temper) how to calm down, relax, redirect, or accept.
Doing this daily, having everyone on board to know and recite it imprinted these tools into my son's mind and over the course of one year, he knew how to put those tips into action. Even though he wanted to have a tantrum, act out, he knew how to redirect it or squash it.
I made the list SPECIFIC TO THE CHILD and researched calming techniques, thoughts to inject and actions to implement it.
Also, we trained them to 'THINK THROUGH THE PROCESS' by asking yourself, 'Why am I doing this? What will the consequences be? Can I make amends?" and other questions. We ask those same questions every time the child went haywire, lol!
After awhile, they would offer up the answers, but truly identify with the apology or follow-up decisions.
CONSISTENCY IS THE KEY
The other thing I reflected that worked with both boys, is to be consistent in my reaction to them. It was hard not to yell, scream and curse them out (oh yeah, they can take me there), but MOST TIMES (hey, mom's not perfect) I was consistent, non-effected outwardly, by their actions.
If I gave a punishment, I tried to think on it, make it conducive to the lesson I wanted to teach the child, and discuss with my spouse. However, for typical behavior, we had a consequence board that left no argument or debate on what the punishment was.
An example of this is when my oldest daughter yelled at her sister that 'at school you are not my sister!'. That day, her punishment was that I took her own bedroom from her. She had to share a room with her sister until she learned 'humility' and kindness. Six months later, we decorated and opened up her own bedroom because she had changed greatly.
TAKE THE TIME TO BUILD FRIENDSHIP WITH YOUR CHILD
Yes, you have to play with them. Not just parent. Play with them, talk to them, every single day. Work at building a deep and trusting relationship with them.
If they tell you they did something freely (even if it is punishable) don't punish, but talk them through it.
This friendship will blossom into adulthood and is truly the solidifying glue to working with a strong-willed child.
ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS that lead them to THE RIGHT SOLUTION
Learn to ask them questions, instead of always TELLING THEM WHAT TO DO. Guide them to find the right and wrong in the specific situation.
When they answer in the right manner - rarely, can they dispute the facts.
Also, IT TEACHES THEM TO REASON WITH THEMSELVES when they are being talked into or out of a situation.
FIND THEM THE RIGHT TRIBE OF FRIENDS
Birds of a feather, typically flock together. Kids conform (good or bad) to those other kids around them that they want to have as friends.
Sports, and ROTC programs like the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) program camps that teach discipline all have been a great outlet for my sons and given them a great group of friends that are focused on positive things.
I also put my oldest son through EMT training if for nothing but to teach him discipline, garner his desire to help others and that training and volunteering matured him in many ways. It also gave him other strong male mentors besides his great supportive dad who coached him in most all his sports teams.
TIMES YOU WILL SEE CHANGES
After my first son had grown, and my now youngest is doing so, I realized there are some actual ages in development where they start to CALM DOWN and THINK MORE CLEARLY. Also, we would sing the psalm "NO WEAPON FORMED AGAINST ME WILL PROSPER" and do prayer meditation.
The age for my boys was 12 years old. At that age - they just mellowed out.
Then it was a different type of wild from age 14 yrs to 21 yrs.
My husband says the age of 25 yrs old is where males become less impulsive. I actually researched his answer and he was correct. Their act of reasoning matures, making them more cautious and thoughtful about their decisions at that age. ESPECIALLY, when they are taught to be thoughtful about their task.
REALIZE YOU HAVE A STRONG, DETERMINED individual in a TINY BODY
It reminds me of the Incredibles movie when the movie ended and they play the skit about the baby who now has all these uncontrollable super powers. My oldest son and youngest son reminds me of that kid.
And you know what? They grow up to be better able to harness and utilize those gifts of creativity, impulsive, and determination.
Keep them BUSY, BUSY, BUSY
Breakdancing and Capoiera were great tools for my son. Also, running. It gave him something to do with his nervous energy and taught him discipline. It put him with strong male role models and teachers.
We also had a EXERCISE IN A HAT game we played when I saw he was getting ansy or irritable where he would pick an activity out of our hat and he would do that activity (jumping jacks, hop ups, run in circle) for 2 minutes. Then decide if he wanted to go back to work.
SLEEP was a big factor. He did have mild 'sleep apnea' and had his tonsils removed. It helped a lot. But he also had insomnia (like both his dad and I) so we allowed him to sleep in the room with us longer.
THEY DID GROW UP INTO STRONG PEOPLE
My oldest son's teacher in 1st grade who'd 'recommended' he be medicated, met him as he picked up his brother Speed Racer from camp.
All the joking my oldest had done in class, he'd turned into an advertising business and did stand up comedy.
His former teacher was shocked and commented on the 'great young man he'd turned into'. My son however, didn't forget how mean and unbending this teacher was.
SHOW THEM LOVE DURING THE DAY
Nothing beats a hug, kiss or positive word and reinforcements throughout the day. Turn the 'negative' talk into MANY POSITIVE VOICES to reinforce their self-esteem.
EVEN if YOU MEDICATE YOUR CHILD THEY NEED TO HAVE TOOLS FOR SUCCESS
There are kids that I've seen, my husband had grown up with (he was adopted and his mom had lots of foster kids with challenges) that need medication, but without tools and behavior modification, medicating doesn't work.
Also, be cautious about medicating as the US is one of the largest countries to aggressively over medicate children.
We never medicated, but did talk to their doctor who was conservative on these matters and suggested that we wait til the child was 12 or 13 yrs old. As well as the doctor gave us tips on improving our boys energy and distractions.
We found that even though both boys bounced off the walls, seemed to not pay attention - they were taking it all in. They just liked moving around to do it.
Give your kids the tools for success.