More than anything else in the world, I want my children to become self-assured, strong-minded and independent adults. So far, I think I’m doing a pretty decent job. Both Mia and Theo are confident, kind and compassionate children with an abundance of self-confidence and resilience. However, there is one personality trait that they don’t share – defiance. Mia is my compliant and patient child, Theo is my defiant child. They are so very alike, yet so very different.
Because they have such different tempraments I have to alter my parenting style according to their individual behaviour and needs. Barely a day goes by where I don’t have to act as a referee between the two of them. What Mia lacks in defiance she makes up for in sass and Theo inherited his stubborn streak from me. What do you get when you combine sass and stubbornness? Well, you get disputes that would be best placed in a boxing ring! If you follow us on social media you may have spotted my occasional frustrated outburst, sorry, not sorry.
I’m intensely consious of ensuring that Mia’s compliance doesn’t stop her from speaking her mind and standing up for what she believes in. I was the sibling of a defiant child growing up and it was only when I had children of my own that I realised my voice deserved to be heard. That said, I also don’t want Theo to feel as though he can’t vocalise his own feelings in his own way.
My biggest parenting fear is that Mia will feel as if she needs to become defiant in a bid to snatch back control of a situation from her brother or that Theo will withdraw and the fire in his soul will diminish if he feels as though his voice isn’t being heard. Finding a balance between the two of them without feeling like I’m failing one or the other has been tricky. The mum guilt is very real here. I’m a single mum and juggling defiance, compliance, one-to-one time, family time and general life stuff is a fine art. After six and a half years as a Mum of two I think I’ve finally found my groove. Do you want to know how I strike a balance between my chalk and cheese children? Here’s how!
- I request eye contact and listening from both children. Using phrases like ‘eyes on me’ and ‘listening ears’ diverts Theo’s attention when he is refusing to be rational and grabs Mia’s attention when she’s taking time out in a bid to avoid Theo’s wrath. It also allows them to recognise when they have my undivided attention.
- I don’t ask open-ended questions or make vague requests. Giving them both a small number of options for situations such as dinner or an activity stops Theo from being overwhelmed and lashing out and reduces Mia’s compliant need to go along with whatever Theo wants.
- TLC and one-to-one time is vital. I can’t share the load with another adult but I also don’t want the children to feel like they constantly have to share my time. I always ensure I keep the one-to-one time the children have with me equal.
- If I didn’t pick my battles with Theo, I’d spend far too much time responding to him and reasoning with him when I could be doing something for or with Mia. I also pick my battles with Mia to allow me to keep the balance. I could dispute with them both until I’m blue in the face but that wouldn’t be good for any of us.
- Both of my children are fully aware of the consequences to their actions. Despite her compliance, Mia’s sass does land her in my bad books every so often and she knows the consuqences of that because I am consistent. Theo knows that shouting, throwing things or lashing out at his sister will also have consequences. I find counting to 3 to give them a chance to think about and stop what they are doing works well, as does removing a priveledge such as the television, tablet or their favourite toys and games.
All of the strategies listed above help both myself and the children to live harmoniously. Raising both a defiant child and a compliant child probably feels impossible, but with a little bit of compromise and a level head you will be absolutely fine!