Creative Child

The Upside of Raising a Strong-Willed Child

by Deborah Song

"Mommy, I don’t like this bowl. I want my cereal in a blue bowl," protested Phoebe, my youngest child. It was a hectic morning so I decided against a fight with a stubborn 3-year-old. I transferred the cereal from the orange bowl to the blue bowl and placed it in front of her.

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"Mommy, how come there's only a little bit of milk?" she asked. I bit my tongue and poured more milk in haste.

"That's too much," she interjected.

"Phoebe, please just eat the cereal." I finally pleaded.

"But I don't like too much milk and little cereal. It tastes yucky,” was her explanation. After flipping a couple of pancakes and setting up the breakfast table, I poured some of the milk out and gave it back to her. I stood in front of her this time and waited for her to take a bite, daring her to make one more complaint. But after one spoonful, she pushed the bowl aside and told me she no longer wanted it. The cereal was now “too soft.”

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She pointed to the pantry matter-of-factly, indicating there was more firm cereal to be had. At this point, I launched into a tirade about running late and something about starving children around the world. The delivery was jumbled and cursory at best. It made no sense to her. She remained unchanged on her position not to eat cereal that wasn’t the appropriate consistency. And since I refused to waste anymore cereal, we settled on cheese. It may not have been Swiss but it was neutral territory; the milk proportions in the cheese were already predetermined.  

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