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Feisty Child/Independent Teen

by Lori Sciame | January 26th, 2012 | Elementary

One word could describe my youngest daughter while in elementary school — feisty. She had her own ideas about everything, from what types of clothes she would wear to how much homework she thought she needed to do. At the time, I found this personality trait of to be exasperating. I seemed to be always negotiating with her to do what she needed to do.

What was my take away from this experience of having a feisty child? My spirited child grew into an independent teen, one that I can be proud of.

Let me explain. Now that Elizabeth is 14, I have found that what made her seem difficult as a child is really an asset. She has proven herself to be a leader at school, and she has already started to look at college entrance requirements. Unlike other teens, she is in tune to her own wants and needs, making her resistant to negative peer pressure. Her feistiness as a child has translated into self-assurance as a teen.

If you are currently the parent of a feisty 6 – 10 year old, take heart. Your child will probably grow to be the independent thinker my daughter grew to be.

But…how can you handle the “feistiness” now? Below are a few suggestions on how to handle a spirited child – without squashing the very trait that makes him or her unique.

Giving your feisty child choices can diffuse potential confrontations. Take hair for example. Elizabeth went through a phase where she wouldn’t let me do a thing with her long, fine hair…even brushing it was a battle. So I gave her a choice – long hair, and I would have to work on it every day for five minutes, or short hair, and we could just run a comb through it in the morning.

Another way to “work with” a feisty child is to avoid situations where you know that they will fail. For example, I used to moderate many community events. At one such event, a domestic violence vigil, Elizabeth decided to break away from my parents who were in the audience and join me on stage! She was cute, but I was mortified my child was trying to be entertaining at such a solemn event. Needless to say, Elizabeth didn’t attend any more of my events until she was able to control herself.

Finally, having an infinite amount of patience is needed to handle a feisty child. You have to be patient while they complete tasks, as they always want to do it themselves. You have to be patient with their rigid food choices, even if that means mac and cheese for lunch most days. Basically, you have to be patient with their wish to control every aspect of their lives.

You may be thinking by now that Elizabeth was a spoiled child; however, this was not the case. I didn’t give in to her every demand; I made sure that what she thought was best — really was what was best for her!

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