Thursday, November 5, 2009


Some kids just don't take no for an answer.

Unfortunately, I have been blessed with at least two of them.

The "un" in that sentence is rather unfortunate, because persistence, in and of itself, is not a bad thing. Persistence is the difference between a published author and an unpublished one. Persistence brought us the lightbulb and computer. Persistence is what helps tired parents everywhere get through our busy days!

But persistence in a toddler/preschooler? Aaaarggggh!

You know how most childhood experts will tell you to redirect a young child who's interested in picking up a delicate or fragile object? Well, redirection doesn't work with a persistent child. The persistent child will simply return to said object again and again and again.

Which isn't a bad thing, really. The ability to perserve, despite obstacles and over time, is clearly a marker of success. Our job as parents is to somehow preserve the sense of persistence -- while somehow co-habitating with a child who clearly has his own ideas about living.

It's not easy. It's not easy at all. I came home from our 4-H meeting tonight, thoroughly exhausted from battling with a persistent three-year-old who saw absolutely no reason for him to remain quiet during the meeting. He wanted to race cars. He wanted to play with balls. And he wasn't buying my reassurances of "later" at all.

It would be easier for me to somehow squash his persistence, to somehow force him to comply with my wishes, instead of always responding to his inner desires. But 1) I don't know how to do that, at least not in any way I'd feel good about it, and 2) I don't want to want to destroy what will someday be one of his strongest assets.

In an effort to find some answers, I Googled, "persistent child" when I came home-- and found this gem of antique wisdom. I think I'm going to follow her advice:

"I never keep late hours and I take very nourishing food. One needs poise and health and quiet nerves to regulate persistence without destroying it."

What are your tips for dealing with a persistent child?


  1. I thought of you and the boys while reading one of my favorite sports writers, Bill Simmons.

    "That was my second-favorite memory of the [book] tour. This one was first: I stopped the signings for two days so I could spend Halloween weekend with my kids. We live in a neighborhood that gets slammed by trick-or-treaters; this time, we ran out of candy with dozens of trick-or-treaters left. Just as we were about to start turning people away, my daughter announced that she wanted to give away her candy to the remaining trick-or-treaters. And she did. She's 4. She is going to be a good kid. I know it. This was the happiest moment of my book tour, hands down. My father told me I would understand someday, but I already do."

  2. I love it! Those are the moments that make parenting all worthwhile.

  3. I remind myself that the very things that will make a child a successful adults are often the very things that drive parents absolutely batty. Some days it takes on a mantra-like quality as I repeat it over and over again. Yep, those are the days we will laugh about some day in the future.

  4. Anonymous,
    I've had to remind myself of that over and over as well!