Friday, February 13, 2009

BLOG TOUR: Journey of a Strong-Willed Child by Kendra Smiley **Plus Review**

Journey of a Strong-Willed Child by Kendra Smiley with Dr. Aaron Smiley and John Smiley (the resident Dad)

I have two daughters, ages 3 and 5, and as wonderful as they both are I'd be lying if I said we didn't struggle from time to time with some attitude issues due to stubborness. Yep, that's right. My daughters have both my own stubborness coursing through their veins and that of my husband. That's like a double dose times four (twice for each girl). Yipes! That's why I knew I couldn't let this blog tour and review opportunity pass me by.

Before reading Journey of a Strong-Willed Child I did not realize that strong-willed did not mean stubborn. I simply assumed the terms were interchangable. Though according to the authors, being stubborn means having exceptional resolve. "Being strong-willed goes way beyond being stubborn. A strong-willed child resolutely defends his position and questions any and all authority over him to determine his or her 'right' to retain control." As soon as I read that I realized that I am actually not the mother of a strong-willed child in the sense the authors have described. I couldn't stop there though because I still am the mother of a two very wonderful, albeit, stubborn girls. Even if the book didn't apply to us 100% I knew I had to keep reading. You never know what you might learn or soak up from the experience.

The parenting strategies that Smiley brings light to in this fast paced read are nothing that any regular parent can't apply in his or her own home. Strong-willed child or not, kids will be kids. So most of the principles can apply in any household. Take for instance Smiley's point on being consistant and persistant. If you aren't you can't expect your child to A.) believe you'll follow through, B.) will find yourself running out of options. The example she gave was about potty training. With her first child there wasn't any issue when it came to potty training, but she quickly learned with her second child that every child is different. When one method didn't work for her second son she'd quickly move on to another. This, in a sense, allowed her son to set the ground rules because he was the one choosing when and when not to go to the toilet based on what he wanted to do. He was capable of going, he just chose not to go if he didn't want to.

I loved how scriptural back up was interspersed throughout each chapter, and I really enjoyed the overall matter of fact way the Smiley family came together to write this book. Having the opportunity to view all sides of the family dynamic allowed for an all inclusive look at raising and/or being a strong-will child. Readers can see what both parents thought and did about certain aspects of raising their strong-willed son, Aaron. But then in retrospect we also get to see what the adult Aaron has to say about it from his perspective. It's very enlightening.

And now for a few words from the author(s).

First off, tell us a little bit about your background and your family.
I am the youngest of three . . . Youngest by 10 years. I am the adult child of an alcoholic. My dad was a “pillar of the community,” a very able and talented dentist and an alcoholic. I grew up in a small town and was an overachiever who attended the University of Illinois (BS 1974), and received an MS from the University of North Dakota. My husband, John, and I have been married for 36+ years and actually like and love one another. We have three grown sons, three daughters-in-law and three grand-girls (one yet unborn). John was a strong-willed child and has a great passion to help folks parent their strong-willed kids with confidence. His upbringing was much more functional.

Where did you get the idea for the book?
Our strong-willed child became a responsible adult, but it was not without great effort on our part. We witnessed so many kids who were not only strong-willed, but misunderstood. God had placed a song inside of them, but they seemed incapable of singing that song. Many times it was because of the confusion and lack of confidence of their parents.

How do you know if you have a “strong-willed” child?
Dr. Dobson, noted expert on the strong-willed child, wrote that a strong-willed child “seems to be born with a clear idea of how he (or she) wants the world to be operated and an intolerance for those who disagree.” But wait…there’s more! A strong-willed child does not necessarily want to control everyone else; he simply wants to control his world. And mom and dad, you are in the way! A strong-willed child has a strategy, so as the parent, you must have a strategy too. A strong-willed child is often defiant, but can also be charming or amusing in order to gain control. The strong-willed child is “gifted” in manipulation. He or she is willing to take punishment in order to “win,” especially if the consequence is deemed inadequate or insignificant by the child. These children are often misunderstood. They are NOT bad, or mean or stupid.

What kind of research did you have to do for the book?
Much of our research was experiential. Aaron traveled the bumpy road of a strong-willed child, and we were with him every step of the way - believing he was a gift from God. We also read books from leading psychologists with their thoughts on strong-willed children and interviewed parents who had identified their kids as strong-willed. Hearing Aaron’s thoughts and reflections on each stage of the journey was incredible.

Lastly, what do you hope readers will take away from your book?
We hope that readers will learn to love, encourage, discipline, and appreciate their strong-willed child. We believe that these kids are a wonderful gift from God and that he can give their parents wisdom to help each strong-willed child sing his or her song to God.

Feel free to check out more about Kendra, tips on parenting, and Journey of a Strong-Willed Child at Kendra's website. Want to order your own copy of Journey of a Strong-Willed Child? Click here to order it now through Amazon. To see what others had to say about this book check out some of the other blog stops from this Journey of a Strong-Willed Child tour.

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