Picture the scene. You’re in the grocery store. You’re trying to pick up a few quick items with the kids in tow. You make it to the check-out line and see the dreaded candy displays, then look over and see another mother gently telling her child no as he reaches for a pack of gum. And surprisingly, the child puts down the candy and goes on playing. And you wonder, “How is that possible?!” Because your child would never react like that. Your child is as stubborn and hard-headed as they come.
Once your stubborn little ball of passion decides they want something, it is never as easy as saying a simple no to get them to stop wanting their object of desire. (see also: tips for getting toddlers to listen without yelling, bribing, or threats!) Instead, it requires putting on your mental battle gear to walk away from the store without a full-fledged scene from the “I want the pack of gum, and you’re going to know about it” movie that would be starring your child if there was such a movie.
I am now more convinced than ever that children are born with an individual temperament and personality regardless of parenting styles. All four of my sons are different, and I definitely parent the same. While the therapist side of me wholeheartedly believes that we mold and shape our children as parents, I most definitely think that we can only mold and shape them around the traits they were born with. We should never desire to change them from how God made them because every personality type has perks. And we need to focus on those perks.
So here are some of the most beautiful parts of having a hard-headed child.
1. You know where they stand.
When you have a hard-headed child, you have the perk of knowing where they stand on things. They won’t leave you guessing as to what they want. And honestly, as a busy mom, sometimes it’s nice not to have the guesswork. There isn’t a mysterious flair to them. They say what they mean and mean what they say. And the world needs people like that. “You don’t like the color blue?” Well, alright, then. “I know not to buy you blue shirts.” And for some reason, I find it adorable to see what they have opinions about. The developing brain can be so fascinating. (And completely irrational.)
2. Their highs are high.
I find that there is always a lot of personality with a spirited (or hard-headed) child. And while sometimes you may feel there is too much personality, I assure you this; they will always entertain you. When they are low, they drag you low. But when they are cute, they are over-the-top adorable. And others notice it, too.
One of my close friends was initially stressed out by her second child, a spirited daughter. The reason being is that she started parenthood with a much more even keel child but now says that she is so grateful to have her hard-headed daughter because she experiences so much joy from her spirit.
Likewise, my third son is obsessed with wearing an Astro’s Altuve jersey. I exaggerate not when I say he’s worn it every day for three months! And believe me, when that jersey is getting washed, things can get very ugly while he waits. But when that jersey comes out of the dryer, I genuinely think it is one of the cutest things I’ve ever witnessed because he holds the shirt up in the air and yells with glee, “I love you, Altuve. I love you, Altuve.” It makes us melt every time.
3. They make things happen.
You know that age-old argument with couples that happens at meal-time in a car, “Where should we go to eat?” I don’t know. Where do you want to go?” And this cycle goes on for 20 minutes while everyone gets hungry and cranky. Well, a spirited child is never afraid to make their opinion known. And sometimes, that keeps things moving forward and interesting. When little Sarah comes over, everyone knows she will somehow ask every person in the room to get Chinese food until grandma finally orders Chinese for dinner. But something is entertaining and fun about someone who can rally the troops because of persistence. And make a decision.
4. They don’t conform.
Peer pressure is something I worry about for my children. You work so hard to instill good values and traits in your babies. But then you wonder, when push comes to shove, will your child be able to stand up to their peers when faced with a compromising decision? Well, with a spirited child, you have the confidence of knowing that no one can sway them to think differently than they desire. So whether they are the ones making a wrong decision or making the right decision, one thing is for sure: they are not going to do something just because someone tells them to do it. And that is beautiful. The world needs tenacious people! Now the main challenge is to make sure they are making good decisions so they can be the ones influencing others for good. But isn’t that a cool thought?
5. It’s rewarding to see them grow into rational human beings.
When a child is born with an easy temperament, you have the advantage of not having to work quite as hard with every decision. And that is amazing. I adore my chill, second son like none other! But you know how sometimes something is more rewarding when you’ve worked so hard for it? Like you appreciate your skinny jeans all the more after working to fit back into them post-baby than you did when you first bought them? Well, I have found this to be true with my spirited child.
When I see him make good choices, sharing and being sweet, and when I see him put back down a pack of gum down in the grocery store because I’ve told him we already have gum in the car, the joy and reward I feel are unexplainable. Because I know that slowly but surely, my work as a parent is paying off. And while I would never want to change him, I see that spirit will help him do great things one day. And the world needs people like that.