Five Values For Mothering Strong-Willed Toddlers


Hi friends! {Because we are friends at this point, right? Right.  Okay good.}

Oh motherhood.  What a ride it is, what a challenge it is, what a joy it is, what a blessing it is.  There is no better role we have and no better person than you – and me –  to be in it.  And man oh man, this role is unclear, changes daily and often we are asking, “Is what I am doing today as a mom going to cause my strong-willed toddler to be in therapy in 20 years?”  Well, that answer is a very likely YES.  Ha.  

The good news is, while we ask that question, I believe there are a few simple things we can do regularly that could make all the difference for our kiddos and maybe – just maybe – keep them out of therapy.  More specifically, five values for mothering strong-willed toddlers.  First, let me share a story with you.

strong-willed-toddler Miami Moms Blog
Exhibit A – Strong-Willed Toddler

A few weeks ago, I was at my friends house for a play-date-turned-pool-party-turned-happy-hour-turned-dinner-party.  YES…my kind of play date.  We sit down to eat, we begin eating and precisely as everyone had just put their forks in their mouths, my sweet daughter Zoey yells, “But mom we didn’t pray!”  



I humbly tell Zoey, “You are right sweetie, would you pray for us?”

She looks up at me, she grabs her friend’s hand, I then proceed to grab my friend’s hand to follow suit and she prays.  She prays a full prayer.  “God is great, God is good…thank you for Charlotte, thank you for Mrs. Danielle, thank you for mommy and Jesus thank you for this food.  Amen.”

I almost died of joy right there.  Ladies, SHE IS THREE FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!  #proudmommoment

Exhibit B – Strong-Willed Toddler With Values

It was in that moment that I realized the work can and will pay off.  

Those values we are pushing matter, even after the 100th time saying the same thing in a matter of 15 minutes.  Some of these values I want to share with you because they are relatively simple, easy to execute, and matter deeply.  

  1. Establish “play date rules.” Every time I bring Zoey on a play date, before we get out of the car, I ask her what the rules are.  Have fun. Share.  No screaming.  No tattletales.  No hitting.  Be kind.  And have even more fun.  She never gets them all, but she gets most of them.  And hear me, within five minutes into the playdate she has broken at least three of these.  But, that’s not the point.  The point is the verbal consistency and the correction and reminder of the rules while on the play date will eventually be in action in her.  I believe it.  Also because I am slowly starting to see it come to life!
  2. Prayer.  In our house, we pray.  Over our food, at night, when we see someone in need, on our way to school.  Not every single day and not perfectly but enough to where it is resonating with Zoey, as per the aforementioned play date prayer situation we had.  I want and need her to know she has access to Jesus regularly and that we should have a spirit of gratitude in all circumstances.  And prayer is a great place to start.
  3. Establish “school rules.” Basically, this is a repeat of number 1 with some slight modifications.  Learn, respect your teacher, be a good listener, have fun.  I don’t love calling these rules to be honest (open to other suggestions!) but they are core values that I want her to grow up with. 
  4. Toys in, toys out.  Books in, books out.  Clothes in, clothes out.  About six months ago, I explained to Zoey the concept of donating to others in need.  It made no sense to her and I am pretty sure she walked away, farted and then proceeded to make her 47th mess of the day.  But again, I didn’t stop.  And she now knows that when she gets a new toy or new clothes, we have to go through her things and she has to donate at least at a 1:1 ratio.  And if I am being honest, I am sort of type A and the opposite of a hoarder so this value stems from that.  BUT, it’s still a good principle for her 😉
  5. I’m sorry and I forgive you.  Every single time she gets a time out or I lose my patience and get a big fat F on my motherhood report card, we take at least 3-4 minutes and say I am sorry.  In these moments I explain to her why saying sorry and forgiving someone is important.  Right now, it’s going over her head but I know this will pay large dividends for her life.  I know it.  Having a forgiving heart I would argue is one of the best qualities we can have so I am not going to stop with her!
strong-willed-toddler Miami Moms Blog
Exhibit C – Mom crushing mothering strong-willed toddler


Photo Credit – Mrs. Liz Castro