You Can’t Make Me!


If you haven’t read the story of Mrs. Piggglewiggle with your children, it is definitely worth a read. She finds delightful solutions to common childhood behaviors in a very humorous set of stories about children in a small mid-1930s American town. Children everywhere love Mrs. Pigglewiggle because they see themselves in the story and can laugh about their issues. One character develops quite an attitude with her mother and repeatedly tells her, “I’ll do it because I want to, not because you asked me to!” This is the classic strong willed child.

In her book, You Can’t Make Me (But I Can Be Persuaded), Cynthia Ulrich Tobias delves into the inner workings of the strong willed child. She was a strong willed child and had one of her own. Her book has a great survey to see if your child is truly strong willed and provides strategies for bringing out their best.

Here are some signs from her survey that you may have a strong willed child:
“Almost never accepts words like “impossible” or phrases like “it can’t be done.”
“Can move with lightning speed from being a warm, loving presence to being a cold, immovable force.”
“May argue the point into the ground, sometimes just to see how far into the ground the point will go.”
“Considers rules to be more like guidelines (“As long as I’m abiding by the ‘spirit of the law’ why are you being so picky?”).

If you answered yes to most of these questions, you might like to look at the rest of the questions on the survey. Identifying the cause of “stubborn” or “defiant” behaviors can help you find ways to deal with them. Understanding the thought process behind your child’s stubborn behaviors can go a long way toward changing his/her behaviors. Tobias breaks things down into easy to understand sections which give parents real hope of helping their families stop power struggles in the home.

In my own home, there are two parents who were strong willed children (one quiet but resistant and the other wild and resistant) one strong wild and resistant daughter who tries to rule the house and one generally easy-going daughter.
As parents, we have realized that we are the “snake charmers” trying to convince the cobra to do what we want. Ideally, our “cobra” thinks it is her idea or in her best interest to do what has been asked. It really all comes down to working around their control issues to trick them into thinking they have control over what they do or do not do. Tobias also talks about creating positive loving relationships with positive activities to foster your strong willed child’s desire to remain an integral part of the family and maintain close ties. Her tips are helping us create a much more harmonious home life.

Check out Mrs. Pigglewiggle as a fun diversion for your family and a way to approach your children’s behaviors (Teeny-Tiny Bite Takers, Doesn’t Like to Share, etc.) with humor. Take some time to read Tobias’ book and many others out there on the strong willed child.

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