17 May, 2010

Stubborn children

We have one child who is highly intelligent, but has fluctuating motivation. If he likes something he'll do it with a great deal of enthusiasm, but if he can't see the point or isn't interested, it is like pushing an elephant up a slippery hill - well nigh impossible. Both my husband and I were conscientious, self-motivated achievers at school. Neither of us are very good at dealing with this particular parenting challenge. External motivations don't help. Internal motivations are impossible to impart. If he doesn't want to, nothing will make him. I hate it.

We've just pushed him through the preparation of an oral presentation (we used to call these lecturettes - anyone else know this word?). It's been awful. Last night I tried everything I could think of to make this nearly 11 y.o. write more than two paragraphs of information down (not an inability, just a lack of motivation). In the end I did the one thing I didn't plan to do. I walked out (using sharp words) and shut the door very firmly. I didn't go back to do his bedtime routine. When he approached his dad to 'put him to bed', my beloved husband said, "Not until you say sorry to your mother." Our son contemplated that one for a while and then, sniffing suspiciously, did so. Today, with more firm input from his father, he's added sufficient information to his script to be adequate. But last night broke his impossible resistance.

Somehow we've produced two out of three very stubborn children. Our second child spent about half and hour this afternoon refusing, in tears, to read his reader. He usually reads enthusiastically but today decided to be difficult.

Some of this is their personalities. I wonder how much of it is an emotional reaction to the upcoming change? I wish I knew how to handle, particularly the older one, better.


Anonymous said...

This may not be as encouraging as I intend it, but I remember reading Martyn Lloyd Jones saying that a strong will, or stubborness, in of itself is a good characteristic to be had.

It does need to be directed properly, obviously, which comes with maturity...but it is good to have the strength of will to stand up in a good thing...better than being so pliable that you don't stand up for anything.

(Even if it can be annoying when stubborn people decide to go down the wrong path...)

Wendy said...

Good to see you again Anika. Yes, I know stubbornness is a good thing, when well directed. I doubt my husband and I would still be missionaries if it weren't for our own stubbornness!

Unfortunately knowing that doesn't help an awful lot when you are faced with an immovable force in a child! Thanks for the encouragement, though.

KKCambLogos said...

I remember lecturettes! Now we call them Oral Presentations, and my kids are protesting that I'm committing torture in having them present, using their self-created PowerPoints to their peers and possibly some parents!

At least you guys try with your parenting. The Cambodian way seems to send the stubborn child or child who has made you angry away to stay with a relative who won't put up with their nonsense! And yes, this is Christian parents. I think it's cultural.