I have been praying to God for patience and understanding in raising my 3 year old daughter for months now. She has been testing me and pushing me to my limits on a daily basis and I have been feeling like I don't know how much more I can take. Her good days are great, her good moments on bad days are memorable, and her heart and spirit are as bright and big as the sky. But her bad days and bad moments are rough, let me tell ya. I won't go into a lot of details, because we parents all know, but basically I'm talking tantrums, stubbornness, defiance...things that kept taking me to my wit's end...A LOT. No matter how patient I tried to be, she always seemed to win out, making me feel like a failure. Irritable at best. And don't get me started on how her meltdowns made me feel during PMS....Rick knew to let me walk away for periods of time just to regain my composure.
I've pondered if this all is a result of me being newly sober, dealing with raw emotions. Or if it was me finally dealing with a toddler, sober. I mean, I've been a mother for 6 years, but only 1 year has been as a sober mother. But no matter what it was, I was feeling defeated, and prayer to God was where I went for help.
In retrospect, help came in the form of a get-together this weekend with a friend. Our purpose of meeting was to talk about God and all of His goodness, and boy was it a heartwarming meeting. Not only to talk to my friend, but the things I heard and learned about God were amazing.
But where I think God stepped in and answered my prayers is when my friend brought up the concept of a "strong-willed child." Did you know there is such a thing? I mean, I've used words like independent and stubborn to describe my daughter, but I never knew there was an actual term. Don't get me wrong, I'm not thrilled because I have a label for my toddler (although she did get 12 out of 12 on the "strong will" scale), but I am elated that I now have a Google term to type in and Voila! I have multiple resources on the internet to help me out. There are books upon books out there with studies and suggestions and resources on creative ways to discipline a strong-willed child. After comparing several of the top choices, I ordered a 5 out of 5 star book. In the meantime, I started reading the reviews on the book and have already found so many tips and suggestions to apply to life at home. And you know what?
They are working.
They are simple and common sense, but the authors are saying you have to approach SWC differently. Parenting styles you used on a compliant child (Loudoun) will not work on SWC (Avalon). FINALLY! I feel like I wasn't defeated, I just didn't have the correct tools to be successful with her. In three days I have seen a night and day difference. She is listening, she is responding and we have more peace between us. There isn't this tension about whether or not a tantrum is on the verge of erupting. It's more like, if it erupts, here are the steps we are going to work through to end the tantrum quickly and smoothly. Who knows, maybe we'll get to few, if any tantrums soon!
Avalon is such a loving, generous, sweet, tender-hearted girl. I was so afraid of crushing her spirit while trying to force her to obey family rules. Now I am learning how to set the boundaries while letting her spirit shine. And the book hasn't even been delivered yet. I have new hope. Thank you, God, for listening and answering my prayers. Thank you, friend, for your much appreciated advice.