– By Sarah M.
You know the look the bottom lip comes out, the brows go down, the arms get crossed. Your child is determined to get their way. They won’t give in and they know you will. What’s a parent to do? If you force them to do what you want, your child will start shouting, get aggressive, or just cry. If you walk away or do the task for them, they learn that their determination worked, but they have missed an opportunity to use their determination productively.
As an assistant teacher at The School of Grace, I see determined children every day. It’s a skill that will serve the children well later in life when faced with a challenging problem or difficult situation. We teach the children to channel their determination by offering appropriate choices in addition to patience and calming techniques. I truly appreciate determination as a trait, and I reflect that in my tone of voice when redirecting a frustrated child who isn’t getting his/her way. I love opportunities to help a child’s focus switch from angry determination into a willingness to help or understanding a friend’s emotions. I am thankful that I can shape determination into peacefulness and reconciliation.
A few nights ago I was reading a bedtime story to my daughter about Helen Keller and the value of determination. Helen Keller was an ordinary baby girl but became very ill when she was a toddler and lost her sight, hearing, and ability to speak. Her parents spoiled her because they pitied her and didn’t know how to help. A tutor named Anne Sullivan came to help Helen. She didn’t give up on her, she knew that she could teach Helen the true value of determination by showing her a different way. Helen went on to graduate from college and became a writer and inspirational speaker. We can all use our determination to do things our way, or to help us learn a different, better way. And by learning a better way, we are happier people in the end.