Early this month my sister and her family were in town, and we spent a wonderful week together with our combined five children under age 6. Her daughters are, like mine, ages 3 and 1 – just slightly younger versions.
Our 3-year old is strong-willed and extremely stubborn. Sometimes she amazes me in her sheer longevity in rebelliousness. I wonder: isn’t she exhausted from all this resistance, kept up for so long? (I know I am.) The girl is wired to stick to her guns at all costs, even when experience shows that she will not prevail in defiance.
During her visit my sister witnessed several instances in which my daughter was very defiant in an outwardly rude way; two in particular stick out. After the second my sister commented on my response to my daughter’s rather outrageous behavior – that I’d addressed her calmly and not gotten riled up as I worked with her till she relented and apologized. “I would have been so angry at behavior like that if I were in your shoes!” she said. Her tone was honest, earnest, no hidden message or criticism.
I felt two simultaneous responses, conflicting ones. One was: I guess I’m making progress if I can calmly work with my daughter through her misbehavior without having it overly inflame my emotions and ruin my day. The second was: wow, she really is that rude and defiant at times, even after having corrected her for months and years on these issues. Shouldn’t she be getting past this by now? Am I doing something wrong in my training – misapplying my methods, perhaps, or lacking consistency or thoroughness in them? (more…)