So, I’m reading a book, “You Can’t Make Me, But I Can Be Persuaded” by Cynthia Ulrich Tobais, because I believe there’s a slight chance that I have a Strong-Willed Child (SWC). Um, that’s a joke if you know my oldest.
Part of what I’m learning from the book is that a SWC “can take what was meant to be the simplest request and interpret it as an offensive ultimatum.” In my house that means, once I put the request/command out there and once she makes up her mind…it’s a done deal. She’ll stand her ground…NO.MATTER.WHAT. Oftentimes it’s the most infuriating thing imaginable because all I want her to do is obey and do what I’ve asked…mostly to make my life easy.
Tonight was one of those times. I simply asked her to help clean up her toys in the living room. She did not respond well and I was immediately on edge sensing we were about to have a power struggle. So I offered her a choice to try to “encourage” her to make the “right” decision…you know, the decision I wanted her to make.
I offered up the option to her that if she didn’t want to pick up her toys that I would do it for her, but that she would have to pay me $1.00 of her money. You know, the money she’s been working so hard for to save up for a new Anna doll or Clover Leaf Mansion. I mean, who wants to give up their money to mom, right??
Ha I should have known with my SWC that once she’d made up her mind to not clean up she didn’t really care what the consequences were. She wasn’t going to be made to clean up. So what did she do…she marched into her room, got down her ‘Spend’ jar, and headed back to the living room. She asked me, “Mom, what would you do with the money? What do you want to buy?” I told her that I wanted a new quilt machine.
She handed me a $5.00 bill and said, “I hope you get to the buy that Mega Quilter!”. I told her that she didn’t have to do that. She hugged me and said, “I want to. And I’ll help you clean up the living room.”
So not only did she give me more of her money than was required, she recognized that she now had only $4, she’d been listening and knew the name of the quilt machine I wanted, and she helped clean up.
Now how do you respond to that?
It certainly doesn’t always end that way, but when it does I take it. While immediate obedience and compliance isn’t the norm, and I’m often weary from negotiating EVERY.LITTLE.THING, tonight I was reminded that SWC have some really amazing qualities. I was quite thankful the reminder.