Yes, I Choose to Put My Tantrum On the Internet

Strong Willed
Strong Willed

I’m angry.

I practice patience a lot because it’s not my nature. Patience is a daily exercise for me anyway, but my five and a half year-old has unwittingly challenged me to a Battle of Wills. This is Day 2 of the most recent challenge. When I begin to lose my patience (a clear goal of the enemy), I have to leave the room to find it. This is me. Leaving the room.

She’s brilliant, that one. My daughter sees the line and marches wide-eyed RIGHT up to it, then turns to check that I’m watching so she can inch her toe across. I think she likes the challenge. But I won’t be outsmarted or outlasted. Parenting is an endurance race, and some legs are more arduous than others. I’m not giving up. I won’t blink first. No, ma’am. CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.

When cooler heads prevail, I will know that good parenting theories mention nothing about positioning yourself toe to toe with your child. When cooler heads prevail, this post won’t be nearly as relatable. If I’d been given a chance to really calm down, I’d strip the raw frustration in favor of “Here’s How I Solved THAT Problem.” But right now? I just want to tear phone books in half. We don’t even HAVE a phone book in the house anymore. THANKS Internet.

Right now, I don’t want to read about how to parent a strong-willed child. I don’t want anyone to tell me about a method that worked for them.
Right now, I don’t want a solution. I want to ooze mad and fuel the fire. I want to read a string of Facebook rants from parents I know listing the horrible/brilliant ways their children have foiled them. I want to see how much worse they have it. I am miserable and I want company.

When I see her staunch determination to defy, I want to threaten her with my size and my voice and my vocabulary. I want to take away every toy she owns. I don’t just want to take it away, I want to play with it in front of her, laughing maniacally while I sing, “Mine! Mine! Mine!” over and over again. I want to mirror the faces she makes to me until she relents.

Now, maybe you’re just a better grown-up than me. Perhaps you have a black hole of patience that can swallow a mean look, a defiant act and a five year-old’s version of carefully constructed plausible deniability for any objectionable outcome. Or maybe your child just can’t speak yet. Lucky you.

In the heat of the moment when the mad fire is burning, I want to feel this anger drip from me like sweat. Ironically, it’ll eventually cool me off.

I know I’m lucky, too. I have a daughter that is strong (like her mother). She won’t be stepped over or ignored. She’s excited by a challenge and can seek it out. When cooler heads prevail, I will know that her strength is a gift and that it is my job to help her channel this to be used for good instead of evil. She will be a formidable woman one day. But right now? I’m off to find a phone book…

Kristen is still in the middle of her love story. She and her best friend of four years gave in and finally decided to date. Two years later, she was engaged. Two years after that, she was married. She’ll celebrate her 17th wedding anniversary this May. Mom to Ellen (8) and James (5), she works full time in Human Resources outside of the home. Her children have taught her that motherhood is hard. And wonderful. And HARD. A proud alum of LSU and Johnson and Wales University, she also collects college degrees. (BS in Psychology, AS in Culinary Arts and BS in Culinary Nutrition). She’s lived in Baton Rouge a majority of her life, with sojourns in New Orleans, Charleston, SC and Providence, RI. The south is clearly home. Recovering from a nearly crippling case of adolescent insecurity, she is still the most likely to have the heel of her shoe caught in the hem of her pants.


  1. You are not alone! I have a strong-willed, defiant 4 year and a 1 year old who is learning everything from his big sis. I could tear a phone book or hit someone with it! I need to practice patience because it’s something I lack more and more each day. I wonder, how did she turn out this way? Was it something I did or didn’t do?! Am I a horrible parent? Then people have the nerve to say things like, “you better not let her brother turn out this way!” What?! How did I let my daughter “turn out this way”? I try nice cop and that doesn’t work. I try bad cop and that doesn’t work. Many times I want to just grab my keys and hit the road for a long drive to escape parenting, but that is not an option. That is not ok. But you best believe if I can find a way to escape and hide in the bathroom to avoid raising my voice and threatening to ban her from cartoons for the rest of her life, I will do it. Once I find some phone books, I will take those with me now! You have company in me!

    • Thanks Megan! Parenting is hard – there’s no way around it. Some of us are tried more than others… My husband and I are consistent with our approach and even THEN she bucks.

      I have two children – both so, so different. I’ve been the same parent to both. They were MADE that way. I’m doing my best (I’m sure as are you) to be the best parent to each of them.

      We’re going to make it!

  2. GOD say’s don’t spare the road, a child will test you as long as you allow it. I raised three boy’s and if they needed discipline they got it, I did not count I said two and it got done, I am not saying beat your child, because you just don’t have to, but you have to teach them that for every wrong they do, there is a consequent that happens , I only had to swat my children a couple of times but I was consistent with it, so they learned fast, and they are all well rounded adults and doing wonderful, they have children that are well behaved, because it just does not require beating them, but if you don’t discipline then I would not even see what there teenage years are like. GOD bless

    • Penny,

      This post is about how I feel while dealing with my daughter. Her behavior is not because of the absence of discipline, I can assure you. Most times, it’s her reaction to it. There are many ways to discipline and different consequences work for different children. If being a parent has taught me anything it’s that there is not one right way to do anything. It’s hard, but I’m glad she tests me (sometimes!). She won’t be run over or passed over or ignored. This God-given personality trait will carry her far, I believe.

    • It’s interesting, because someone who is Jewish told me that this verse has been bastardized into promoting corporal punishment when that’s never what it really meant. The real meaning (deduced from Hebrew) has more to do with shaming a parent who doesn’t do a good job raising their child to do right in the first place, and does not mean spank your child.

      Anyways, I was spanked and I turned out to be a an alcoholic and drug addict who didn’t know why to do right when there wasn’t someone lording their power to hit me nearby. I ended up fixing my life on my own and now don’t spank/swat my children because using fear as a motivator for kids does them no good when they grow up to be adults. I teach them why it affects them as a person when they lie, or harm others. I teach them to recognize that they have choices, and the choices they make may not affect them right now (you don’t get caught every time) but will eventually, if not just in their own spirits and minds. I want them to be themselves, to learn by trial and error, to not live in fear of being hit by their parent.

      As the author said, she is lucky her daughter is so strong. She won’t grow up to be a doormat for others. She just needs the gentle guidance her mother is giving her to know when the right and wrong times are to take a stand.

  3. I have a 2 year old who is as stubborn as both me and his father, and an 8 month old. I have tried everything I could think of to win this battle of wills, when finally I found a way to vent my anger and win the battle (as far as throwing fits are concerned). The secret is when they throw a fit just sit right down with them and kick and scream right along with them. They will get louder at first and when I get louder he stops and just looks at me. After that he’ll stop pushing the line, well at least until the next time I tell him no. I do love that he is as strong willed as me and his father because it just lets me know that when he gets older he won’t take anything from anyone. Right now though I just wish I could wave a magic wand and win the battle of the wills.

    • Ashley,
      As parents, we’ve got to research and read up on method, approach and desired outcome. Then, we do WHATEVER WORKS! I’m glad you’ve found your “whatever!” If you find a magic wand, please let me know. I’m willing to match any offer!

  4. YES!!!! I’m screaming in agreement with your frustration. I feel like such a horrible parent so many days lately because my 5 year old is SO hard to deal with. You have worded so beautifully how I feel all the time. Thanks for sharing.

  5. You are not alone. I have such a strong willed child. We take one step forward and five steps back. One of my favorite “issues” was one night at bedtime, my daughter wanted a pen. I thought it was a stall tactic so I told her no. She told me “when you go to bed, I’m going to get one anyway” and she did. That morning I found it hiding under her pillow and she smiled and said “I told you I was going to get one”

    • Ha, Rebakah I’ve been there! When my daughter was four she once told me she would not sleep in her bed. She cried, and cried and cried saying she wouldn’t. I fell asleep at some point waking up at two or three, she was still whimpering and being angry in her bedroom. I fell back asleep and woke again at five and walked back to her room, she was still crying and really ticked. At that point I said, “Fine-you are up for the day!” and she smiled at me and said, “See I told you I wasn’t going to SLEEP in my room!”

      Strong willed children are some of the most frustrating but awe inspiring kids out there.

  6. I love this. I adore my strong willed child but unless you have a child like mine, all of the well meaning advice given is like individual slaps to the face and feels like each person thinks we are failing as parents because we are not consistent enough, nice enough, stern enough…

    There is strong willed and then there is Hulk strength willed, and then there is my daughter. That girl will move mountains one day, but while I’m in the thick of helping her learn how to be her own person-unless I ask for advice just let me be mad and agree it is hard. I feel you momma!


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