Friday, May 6, 2011


There were many parenting books that I read with out first son. I thought he might be a strong-willed child, or maybe I just wanted to be equipped in the event that he was. The parenting strategies we used with him worked marvelously, and aside from being a busy-body, wiggle-worm, our discipline routine worked well.

I was often perplexed at other parents explaining the discipline issues with their children. Their kids threw such big tantrums that they had to leave places. Their kids hit them, kicked them, refused to sit in the high chair, or threw themselves into dangerous situations. Their kids screamed when they didn't get their way and more or less ruled the household.

At the time, I couldn't figure it out. My first born has had one tantrum, and it was, respectively, a few weeks after bringing home a new baby. He was three. "Why can't parents get their kids under control.?" I wondered,  "Why aren't they disciplining their children?"

Um. To all those parents out there:  I'm sorry. I get it now

In the last three weeks I have had more physical battles with my two year old than I have had in nearly five years of motherhood. I have heard hours of screaming tantrums, have endured objects thrown across the room, feet and hands hurling toward anything or anyone that they can hit. I've seen a child truly out of control with me seemingly not able to do anything about it.

I mistakenly thought that my first born was strong-willed, but girlie, you ain't seen nothing yet!

So, we are redirecting. What we did with one is NOT working with the other. Our gears are shifting from child training methods to trying to understand better the way our son ticks. Because really, there can be no training if a child is hysterical. We need to try and understand our sweet second born, to get into his head and better cope with his outbursts and anger.

Do you have a child like mine? Many of the qualities that these children have are considered to be highly valued in adults. They are leaders, fight for justice, and aren't afraid to stick to their guns and stand up for their beliefs. Their intensity, when properly channeled, can be applied to success in their lives. As a consolation, I often like to think of the Greats of Science, Arts, and Athletics. I like to think about Lance Armstrong as a child, or the challenges that the parents of Apollo Ohno faced trying to curb his intensity into something productive.

I imagine that Michelangelo could have been an explosive, strong-willed, and spirited young man. How could he not be? He spent twenty years of his life hanging upside down from the ceiling painting the Sistine Chapel. His marble statues are as close to perfection as I've seen. As a child, I can picture that his mind was solely occupied on one task at a time, and that any interruption couldn't be tolerated--not from mother, not from anyone.

There are countless examples of Greats throughout history that display qualities uncommon from average folks. Edison, Pasteur, Mozart, Galileo, Da Vinci, Ben Franklin, St. Thomas Aquinas, and hundreds of other authors, scientists, athletes, and thinkers.

I'm not necessarily planning on raising a musician or a sculptor, but I DO need to have an effective way to get from there.

Two books have come highly recommended to me on this issue. They went into my Amazon shopping cart today!
The Explosive Child
Raising Your Spirited Child

And, to all of those mothers who give me consoling smiles and encouraging looks as I maneuver my way through embarrassing social situations, I realize now that you get it, too. 


Sarah said...

Um . . . I completely understand. Both of mine are quite spirited. Thank goodness they usually take turns with their spirited outbursts, but nonetheless, it's quite an adventure. I find that these qualities are amazing when it comes to their intensity level with projects and getting involved with things or even helping each other around the house, but when they are upset about something or being "misunderstood" the intensity level is something else. Oh my! Hang in there!

Detta said...

Indeed! I am guilty of having very similar thoughts...only to be put in my place...sigh.

Thanks for the book recommendations! I hope you will give a review on each after you have read them.

AND, I want to thank you for your example of true womanhood. It just bursts out of everything you are beautiful, virtuous, witty, inspiring, and humble. Thank you for being you...your example is such a gift.

Theresa said...

Dr. Ray Guarendi
Dr. Kevin Leman

Anonymous said...

Just remember that YOU are a great mom! Take those "time outs" like we talked about this weekend. They are great for rejuvination (I liked to call them "mini retreats")..when you come home, PLEASE do not hesitate to come, drop off the kids and have a nice quiet date with Mark! Loved having you here this weekend; but, again, just too short! I also wanted to say that I love watching you "being a mom". It is like going to a fine symphony. The best concerts have many cresendos...I think Paullie will end up being the one that will be the "heart" of your family. Keep up with your consistency. It is hard work but you will truly reap the benefits.You have good and beautiful kids because of who you and Mark are as a parenting corp....Also remember, NO ONE has perfect kids...even if they say so or if you think they do. Love to you♥ Mom S.

Delena said...

I can't even begin to explain how much I understand everything you're saying! I, too, thought, "What is WRONG with these parents?!" when I saw a child screaming. Then we had our second son...and I understood that sometimes it's not YOU, it's the CHILD.

But you're absolutely right--children with these personalities (a.k.a.--"choleric") generally grow up to be leaders. So, if we can just CHANNEL that passion, determination, stubborness, and defiance into something GOOD, we're set. I read that most saints were of "choleric" temperament--so that's good news, right?? :-)

Good luck with your "spirited" son! :-)

Mallory said...

Thank you everyone, so VERY much for your kind words, encouragement and advice. I think I need to keep the perspective that life in our house just changed BIG TIME and that some kids are going to adjust better than others, and one of mine just happens to have a more difficult time.

I don't think we're in the clear yet, I mean, the boy has a temper, but I think I'll be able to anticipate better the transitions that will set him off, and then be able to cope better if he does become out of control.

I'll give an update once I can get my nose through the books.

Thank you, again. It feels so good to know I'm not alone and that we're all playing for the same team :)

Mallory said...

Thank you so much everyone for your thoughtful, encouraging and helpful words. It means so much to have so many mother "in my corner," and to know that I'm not the only one who has been lost in a difficult situation.

I'll give a review of the books once I get an opportunity to read them, as well as an update about how things are on the homefront. More than anything I need to keep the perspective that our who family life has changed big time--we added another person, and that is GREATLY impacting the other children. It's no excuse for bad behavior, but I think that for my benefit that I need to have a better perspective during this transition.