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So your tot is stubborn, outspoken, and assertive? Aren’t you lucky!

The wild child traits that frustrate you now may be the very ones you come to love as your child matures.

So your tot is
stubborn, outspoken, and assertive? Aren’t you lucky!

I was not blessed with an obedient, angelic little bundle of joy who goes with the flow and follows my lead. No, I was blessed with an assertive, outspoken, particular, and stubborn tot who knows exactly what he wants (and how to get it). And so it has been since the day he was born.


Know where I’m coming from, mama?

I used to devise ways of “taming” my rambunctious tot. Usually,I just wore myself out in the process.

As a mother first and Developmental Psychologist second, I have slowly realized that the best thing I can do for my child is to let his true nature shine on.

Does he still get time-outs for being aggressive or destructive? Most definitely. Does he still get a bit of praise or a sticker every now and again for behaving? Of course.

But in the end, his behaviors as an adult may depend more on honing my own mindset than his.

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By quashing his natural tendency to be assertive, perhaps I am suppressing his future ability to stand up for himself when faced with a bullying peer or unfair working conditions as an adult.

Research even indicates that teaching children skills like assertiveness can improve their outlook on life, boost grades, and reduce the risk of depression.

By repressing his stubbornness (no idea where he came across that, by the way! ?), perhaps I am inhibiting his ability to overcome peer pressure to engage in risky behaviors.

According to The Washington Post, stubborn and strong-willed tots are “more impervious to peer pressure and go after what they want with more gusto.”

By quelling his outspoken nature, perhaps I am crushing his ability to stand up for his political, religious, or philosophical beliefs later in life.

Research even shows that rule-breaking behaviors and a bit of defiance in childhood is related to higher income 40 years later. Do I really want to completely remove my tot’s feisty spirit?

Yes, my little sprout knows exactly what he wants. Yes, he can be picky, particular, and persnickety about how he likes things done. But, maybe that just means he will be persistent in his efforts to reach his educational, career, and life goals.

So what is it about these personality traits that drive us so crazy now, when they may be particularly adaptive later in life? Two words for you, mama. Self. Regulation. This is the key ingredient that is missing from a toddler’s repertoire at this young age.

Self-regulation is the ability to control one’s behavior in order to achieve goals, even in the face of temptation and impulses.

From refraining from touching his nose when “Simon didn’t say” to holding off on eating a small snack now for the promise of a larger treat later, self-regulation can be increasingly seen as a toddler matures. Subtle instances can appear as early as 12 to 18 months, but true self-control begins to arise around 24months.

Once your little one has a good grasp on self-regulation, it’s only a matter of time before this skill begins to interact with more spirited traits, like stubbornness and defiance, and empowers your child to harness this spirit.

After all, the best leaders, learners, and live wires are those with the ability to stick to their guns and even break the rules once in a while.

As my son stubbornly refuses his veggies, mischievously slams the French doors, insists on a second reading of his favorite book, and persistently demands to practice going up and down (and up and down) the stairway, I try to think of his future.

I try to remember that his independence and determination will serve him well throughout his life. I mean, how frustrated can I get when I think about his bright future…and where he got many of these qualities to begin with? ?

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I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.


And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

SONTAKEY  I Am Enough Bracelet

May this Oath Bracelet be your reminder that you are perfect just the way you are. That you are enough for your children, you are enough for your friends & family, you are enough for everything that you do. You are enough, mama <3

$35

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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