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YOUR KIDS


Don’t Get Cornered Author reveals her tips for handling the strong-willed child.


discussion,” you’re doomed in most cases. If you listen to me, and I feel like you understand what I’m saying and you’re taking me seriously, then I’m probably going to cooperate with you. In the end, I may even do it your way.


SCOUTING:That brings us to the second crucial truth: Parents need to share control but not authority. That seems like a fine distinction. C.T.: It’s a little tricky sometimes, but it’s really critical. Don’t give way on the bottom line. Don’t compromise on standards or accountability. Just ask, “What do you think it’s going to take to motivate you to do this?” You’re not being a weak parent by saying, “Here’s the point. How are we going to get there?”


WHEN HER SON WAS 4, Cynthia Tobias knew she was in trouble. Mike refused to pick up his toys one day, and Tobias threatened to give them all to other kids. “So give them to other kids!” Mike yelled. Realizing that she had painted


herself into a corner, Tobias did just that. But she also learned to stay out of corners with paintbrushes. In fact, she learned so much that she wrote a book, You Can’t Make Me (But I Can Be Persuaded), published by Waterbrook Press in 2012. Scouting talked with Tobias—who was a strong- willed child herself—about parenting strong-willed children and how these strategies apply to Scouts.


SCOUTING: Is strong will a good thing or a bad thing?


16 SCOUTING ¿ JANUARY•FEBRUARY 2013


CYNTHIA TOBIAS: It’s a very positive trait. It can go sideways, which is the only way it gets to be a bad thing. You want your child to have a pretty good dose of strong will: not easily discouraged, not easily daunted, and not conquered by defeat. It’s just how it’s used. It’s a little challenging some- times in its raw and early form to get it channeled and guided in the right direction.


SCOUTING:The first crucial truth you discuss in the book is that strong- willed children don’t have trouble with authority, only with how author- ity is communicated. Could you expand on that? C.T.:When you come across like you’re the big boss and say, “This is how you’re going to do it, period, end of


SCOUTING: Do strong-willed children want to control the situation or control their parents? C.T.:As a small child, if I figure out how to push your buttons, it’s irresistible to me not to do it. It kind of worries me that I have that much power over you, but, gosh, it’s fun to use it. You don’t want to give your kids that kind of control over you by giving in to the anger and the screaming.


SCOUTING:Your third crucial truth is that the quality of the relationship determines how effective your parent- ing is. Talk about that. C.T.: It’s all about relationship, about having a relationship that the strong- willed child cares about and wants to


FOR MORE PARENTING topics, visit scoutingmagazine.org/ parenting.


JACOB THOMAS


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