the 3 year stand-off

I love the parallel profiles in this pic
Check the links below for my tips and tricks for parenting a strong-willed child.

We all have a will of our own, from birth. We also go through phases when our wills are stronger, which is why toddler and teen years get a bad rap. But some people are more strong willed than others. If we're speaking from a positive perspective, we will say a child is "spirited." From the negative perspective, we say "stubborn." On the scale of compliant to defiant, these kids are off-the-charts defiant.

I'm on the compliant side of the scale, but I know something about defiant people - I married one. And then Nate was born. He looks a lot like Rodgers, and he acts like him, too. He's practically a clone, but with lighter skin and looser curls in his hair.

The first two years of Nate's life, he lived for milk. He drank so much milk as a toddler that he had chronic constipation. After Ben was born, Nate decided he could only drink milk out of his special milk cup - this was a move for control, and I let him have it. When he broke it (prompting this blog post in my archives), he stopped drinking milk altogether. (He also stopped being constipated.) I wasn't too concerned about him drinking milk, since he ate a good variety of food. I refused to replace the broken milk cup. He refused to drink milk out of anything else, though he did ask for it a few times. He didn't drink milk again. For 3 years.

like father, like son
He loved his milk, and I think he still does. He will occasionally drink milk now when they have it at school, and he says he likes it. He doesn't even remember the milk cup, except in pictures. He only remembers that he won't drink milk at home. After all these years, it's still a battle of wills.

Then this morning, he was helping Ben put away his leftover milk (he likes to save about half of his cup of morning milk to drink after school), and he took a drink of it. He told me, "I tried Ben's milk, and it's yummy! I want to drink milk tomorrow morning!"

If he does drink milk tomorrow morning, I shall declare myself the winner of this battle of wills.

I have learned to choose my battles. If I decide to go head-to-head with Nate, I have a good reason. In this case, my reason was "I'd rather he not drink milk than try to maintain one particular (easily broken) milk cup." I've learned some other things, too, which I'll be sharing in the future for the mutual benefit of moms of strong-willed kids. Granted, I only have 5 years of experience, so don't expect miracles, but it may be useful anyway, especially if your kid is younger!

The Strong-Willed Child series:

linking up:
Sweet Little Ones


  1. I have a strong-willed child. Oh My. He is my first-born and when my second was born, I wondered what was wrong with this peaceful, happy baby!? I now have a third and it seems as if she is even more strong willed than my last. I fight a lot of battles. Keep up the good work momma!
    Thanks for linking up with Tuesday Talk
    -Sarah (co-host)

    1. I think my brother, sister, and I are like that. I (middle child) am most compliant, and the baby is most defiant. My baby confuses me sometimes because he's so different from the first born. The strong willed one will not wear clothes I've picked out for him, for instance. I can give him two options, and he's happy to choose, or I can tell him to wear whatever he wants. The complaint one (usually, unless he's in a willful mood) hates deciding what to wear. He's like, "Just put some clothes on me, Mom. I can't be bothered to have an opinion."


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