We had picture day at preschool and I asked a preschooler, “Will you PLEASE let the photographer take your picture?” He said, “NO” in any way he could think of. The photographer tried to get tricky and said, “Your mom really would like a picture of you.” Not budging forward, the preschooler said, “She already knows what I look like so she doesn’t need one!”
Having a logical talk with a preschooler can be challenging. They do not have the same logic abilities that adults have. They are uniquely creative and openly honest. If they do not want to do something, they will not cave into other people’s feelings.
Yes, there is a time to follow directions and obey authority figures; and yes, there is a time to stand up for what you really feel is right. The balance between the two is something that becomes more clear with maturity. However, there is something to be valued in the strong willed preschooler. I attended a high school graduation party for that preschooler that refused to have his preschool picture taken. His mother had all of his yearly pictures displayed for the guests see, well, all accept the one year that he simply refused to go near the photographer. I looked at all the pictures, and the strong willed child that has grown up to be a mature, polite adult. I played an outdoor game of Bags with him and his mother, and he was a wonderful sport. The stubborn streak I had seen at age 4 was replaced by a caring, athletic side that was not at all hesitant to pose for a picture. I had to smile when the mother was the one that was the competitive, strong willed one in the game we played. She is a wonderful teacher by profession, and I could see some of her competitive side that just may have rubbed off on her son when he was small.
There are times when we get fully frustrated at a noncompliant preschooler, and there are times when preschoolers get fully frustrated with adults making demands that do not make sense to them. Sometimes the bigger picture says we need to accept some of that strong willed behavior so that they can find their own consequences through their sense of self.
- When was the last time you just did not comply with what was expected of you?
- Was the consequence worth it?
- What areas would you like to be more strong willed in?
The world just does not fit conveniently into the format of a 35mm camera. ~W. Eugene Smith