The Willful Child

Janet Lansbury showed her stuff again this week with her post about parenting willful two-year-olds.

A battle of wills with a child is one of the classic challenges of parents and teachers. In my first few years of teaching I had recurring dreams about students who simply refused to do what I was asking them to do. Still today I occasionally have that nightmare even though I haven’t had the problem in real life for decades. The powerlessness can be traumatic, I guess.

Anyway, Janet gives great advice to parents of a willful child, but what I loved most was this photo of one. I have rarely seen a face so eloquent. So much so that this week I decided just to put it out there and invite everyone to join a Caption Contest.

How would you caption this photo, please comment with your caption. (We can all vote for the winner next week.)

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33 Responses to “The Willful Child”

  1. Lisa Sunbury July 27, 2011 at 11:31 pm #

    “I WILL do it myself, thank you!”

  2. Rick July 28, 2011 at 3:42 am #

    “I will do it myself, THANK you.”

  3. Pam July 28, 2011 at 4:22 am #

    “I will do it all by my lone!”

    This is the way my willful daughter used to say it when she was two. (And then she grew to be an independent, self-reliant, wonderful adult. )

  4. Gary Gruber July 28, 2011 at 4:42 am #

    “See, I can do it.”

  5. Jim July 28, 2011 at 4:55 am #

    dearest parental unit,
    If you think I have a problem with this chore, after you have shown me how to accomplish it twice a day for the last two years, then I must be adopted or you have no self-esteem.
    you loving daughter,

  6. Susan July 28, 2011 at 5:08 am #

    Rick…as your own Mom would say, “Self do it!”

  7. Allan July 28, 2011 at 5:35 am #

    “You want to save me years of therapy down the road? Teach me independence and confidence now! Your choice.”

  8. Rick July 28, 2011 at 7:05 am #

    Lyn’s comment:
    “I’m gonna make you Make me do that!” – the child knows the parent has the power to MAKE her do whatever it is she doesn’t want to do; she also knows that she (the 2 yr old) has the power to refuse and thereby force the issue. She probably wants to know where the boundaries are…

  9. Oshratn July 28, 2011 at 7:36 am #

    I’ll just keep trying, as you should too!

  10. Erin July 28, 2011 at 9:56 am #

    “Love me as I am and for who I am. Love my strengths and my weaknesses. Love me on your good days and bad days, equally. Love me.”

  11. janetlansbury July 28, 2011 at 10:28 am #

    “Don’t even think of underestimating me…” (Rick, thank you for the shout-out!)

  12. Jim July 28, 2011 at 4:49 pm #

    If Dad is any indication, by the time I’m 16, boys will be falling all over themselves to do this for me, so it doesn’t matter if I get it today.

  13. Charles July 28, 2011 at 6:56 pm #

    S’okay, I got it.

  14. Carla Silver July 29, 2011 at 5:13 am #

    Your other car is a Bentley? Yeah, and my other pair of shoes are Christian Louboutin stilettos. A girl’s gotta dream. . .”

    (As a parent of a 2 and a half year old girl who spends most of her time in my high heels, I know this to be true.)

  15. Deborah McNelis July 29, 2011 at 7:28 am #

    I like your fun caption idea Rick!

    “If you want me to learn… I need to try things for myself!”

  16. María Elena July 29, 2011 at 10:55 am #

    ‘Do not dare to try to help me’ – She thought

  17. Liz Ditz July 29, 2011 at 10:58 am #

    “Don’t you DARE interfere with my struggle for autonomy!”

    reminded me of my daughter at the same age, who took great pride in self-dressing. During the phase when shoes were often put on the wrong feet, her father observed, “Honey, you have your shoes on backward!” [pause for daughter’s study of feet] “No, Daddy, YOU are wrong. See, the bows go in the front, by my toes.”

  18. Rick July 30, 2011 at 5:48 am #

    Rachel Andersen ‎”I’ve got it, just wait!” said in my daughter’s voice 😉

  19. Rick July 30, 2011 at 5:48 am #

    Anne Marie Schar ‎”Seriously, you think I’ll do what?!”

  20. Alison Astair July 31, 2011 at 7:31 am #

    “I do it!” (I can do it myself!)

  21. Elsa August 1, 2011 at 12:26 pm #

    “Don’t you need to go bake some cookies?”

  22. Bill Gravitt August 1, 2011 at 1:00 pm #

    I vote with Elsa, the child seems to be saying “Stop bothering me and go make yourself useful.”

  23. Ginna August 1, 2011 at 1:40 pm #

    I’m with Allan … Give ’em love with their independence and they’ll give you a lifetime of surprises!!!

  24. Mary Anderson August 1, 2011 at 2:20 pm #

    Watch me do it myself.

  25. miko August 2, 2011 at 12:57 am #

    i agree with the slogan “Stop bothering me and go make yourself useful.”

    sometimes the best procedure is to leave the child alone to discover something.

  26. Renee' August 2, 2011 at 2:20 pm #

    It’s my turn.

  27. Sally August 2, 2011 at 2:24 pm #

    Some people call me a “healthy spirit” not a “willful child.” Harumph!!!

  28. Renee' August 2, 2011 at 2:38 pm #

    Change that!

    I said it’s my turn.

  29. Zan August 2, 2011 at 2:47 pm #

    I’m going to be a CEO, director, president, Olympic athlete, or inspiring teacher. Along the way, you’d better figure out when to tell me “no” and when to tell me “yes” so that I learn how to harness this raw determination.

  30. Rick STL August 2, 2011 at 2:59 pm #

    I can do it myself! …. But will you help me?

  31. Rick STL August 2, 2011 at 3:00 pm #

    Once I get this sandal on, I can do anything!

  32. Bill Gravitt August 5, 2011 at 3:30 pm #

    How about “This situation is under control, but please be available as requests for your assistance will be issued on a need-to-know basis.”


  1. Results of The Willful Child Caption Contest - August 5, 2011

    […] was no winner in “The Willful Child” caption contest (July 27th’s post). Interestingly, (but not surprisingly I suppose) […]

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