Parenting a Wild Child

Disney silly face 2


My son was 2 years old when my daughter was born.  Everytime I sat down to nurse my newborn baby, he began stomping on books and tearing the room apart.  I was at a loss –how do I nurse this little one all day long, while my son is so out of control.  I started buying parenting books by the dozen. lol!

I tried every method and technique under the sun to reign my little guy in.  My heart was to raise children that would be a blessing to this world…but by the age of 4 it was clear that my little guy was not a blessing to his peers or teachers.  He was aggressive and uncooperative.

In the following years, I would have lots of talks in the hallway at church with other parents, teachers, and even the Director of Children’s Ministry about my son’s behavior. {blush} SO embarrassing.  And I cried…a lot.  And I prayed…a lot.  And I read a ton of books…a lot.  And I taught and trained and disciplined and yelled…a lot.

And then I started blogging.  I could write on loving our children, teaching them to read God’s word or life happenings with them.  But I was not about to act like an expert in this area.  I wrote mostly on reading your Bible and marriage. I felt more secure in those areas.  And when I talked about motherhood – I focused on working on me or loving our children or I used guest posters who seemed to be doing it well.

So I blogged…fearful with how things would turn out with this boy.  I mentioned from time to time that my boy was agressive or a hand full but I wanted to be careful that I did not disrespect him in my writing.  (My son has read today’s post and given me permission to share my struggles with you all today.)

I remained consistent at home. Loving my boy. Disciplining my boy. Praying for my boy.  Bonding with my boy.  Working hard on gentleness as a mother and learning to control my temper.  I lived out what I wrote on my blog.  It was two steps forward one step back.

Years passed – (almost 5 years have passed since I began blogging) and now my little boy is ten!  This year, for the first time, I am seeing real fruit of my labor.  Glimmers of amazing selflessness, love, kindness, generosity, sensitivity, obedience, respect and maturity are revealing themselves.  I marvel – who is this boy that Sunday School teachers praise?  Who is this boy that other moms say their son is so blessed by?  Who is this boy that coaches enjoy?  Where did he come from?  All the things I had hoped my 2 year old would exhibit – my 10 year old is finally getting.

And now I have perspective.  This is what I’ve learned:

First… 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10 year old boys are NOT adults –and they are not going to act like adults — how silly of me to have hoped to have birthed an adult! Duh! Why did I hold such high ideals? They crushed both of our spirits.

Second, all those judgemental eyes freaked out this girl with high ideals!  I stamped myself a failure at this “boy mom thing” and let others – {strangers} – define my motherhood…based on our worst moments.  I remember complaining to an older Titus 2 woman in our church about how bad of a mom I was.  She said to me,

“Courtney, are your children well fed, clean, clothed, listened too, loved, hugged and taught about Jesus?  Then you are a good mom.”

What? You mean – I can be a good mom based on what I am doing behind closed doors –not on how my child behaves in public?  That just did not register with this mommy brain.  I felt the only measurement for my mommyhood was how my child behaved.

My husband kept telling me to not worry about what others think.  He was right.

Third, fear will make you do crazy stuff…yell, scream, say harsh words, threaten, –it makes you desperate to get through to your kids. I regret how fear made me act.  It’s ugly and it’s prideful!  Oh have mercy! Fear held me back big time! And God says – Without faith it’s impossible to please him.(Hebrews 11:6)

So this is my conclusion:

Motherhood is not a sprint, it’s a marathon.

We will not train our children for life all during the pre-school days.  It’s a minute by minute, hour by hour, daily, yearly process and we must be patient.  We must do the right things at home where no one can see.   Read God’s word to them, love them, kiss them, nourish them and discipline them over and over and over and over.  And in time, the fruit of our labor will begin to show.

With my little wild child — it has taken what feels like an eternity for my “behind closed doors” training to reveal itself “in public”.  But even if it had not revealed itself this year – that does not make me a bad mom. It makes me a NORMAL mom!!!  It makes me a prideful mom because seriously –the desire to look like a “good mom” to others is just my pride –ugly.

Galatians 6:9 says “Do not grow weary in doing good for in due season you will reap a harvest IF you do not give up!”

Dear weary mommy, do not give up. Keep sowing the seeds of righteousness in your children’s lives.  The fruit of your labor is coming!  I can’t tell you when you will see it – but I now know that those talks and tears out in the hallway with Sunday School teachers and those embarrassing moments at the McDonald’s slides…those were a part of the journey.

I had to go through them to help me readjust what I was doing at home behind closed doors.

I had to go through them so I would be driven to my knees in prayer for my boy rather than try to do it all on my own strength.

I had to go through them…so I would understand what other mommies go through.

I had to go through them so I would NOT act like an expert.

And so I’m not – I’m no expert here.  My boy still has a long road ahead as do I (–and please if you know us, don’t hold my boy to too high of a standard, he is still just 10 and maturing. I am not saying we’ve arrived. lol!)

But that fear –that black cloud that hung over my parenting woes. — It has lifted and I give praise to God today that he has heard my prayers and answered my cries.

Are you raising a wild child?  Pray. Read Proverbs. Read the Bible out loud to your children.  Do not lean on your own wisdom.  Ask a Titus 2 woman for help or advice. Read good books and blogs by older women whose children are raised.

Chime In:  Feel free to share your favorite parenting books in the comment section or what works for you. We mamas who are in the midst of raising wild ones need success stories.  Have you raised a wild child who now walks with Jesus? Tell us what you did pretty please!!! 

Walk with the King,






  1. I love this post. I have a very strong willed toddler and a baby at home. It’s a struggle sometimes. What were your favorite parenting books?

      1. I just bought her book on ministry of motherhood. Your article spoke so deeply into my heart that I began sobbing. My dear children ran over to see if I was okay and to comfort me.

    1. These books have helped me so much ~
      The Strong Willed Child by James Dobson
      Magic 1-2-3 (Christian version)
      Don’t Make me Count to Three by Ginger Plowman
      Setting Limits with your Strong-Willed Child by Dr. Robert j. Mackenzie ~ not a Christian author but very insightful

      1. I used 123 Magic with my VERY strong willed son almost 12 years ago now. We entered counseling when he was 2, yes, 2. He was SO hard to handle, I cried nearly daily. The counselor recommended it, and it truly saved my sanity and allowed my son and I to bond.

    2. Raising Your Spirited Child. My oldest was driving me crazy at age two. This book helped me see those traits as great things.

    3. Thanks for being so honest and real. I have two strong willed boys and can definitely relate. Thankfully, my boys have matured too. It is a long hard journey, but it is worth it. The best advice is to carry on and do not let others get to you. Do your best and your children will respond to your love. It is hard, but shake it off. I have so many stories of people getting in my business, but my kids are my business. I am proud of my boys! I am still working hard to get my kids to behave, but they are already so much better than a few years ago. Thankfully, my boys are well behaved at school; I get all their craziness. Maybe that says something about me? Still working on this journey. I love my boys and I know I am a good loving mom. Trust in the Lord and he will sustain all the weary moms. I am constantly reading about this topic. It is not easy. Thanks for the encouragement!!!!!

  2. Your son Is spirited! I currently have a very spirited almost 5 year old little girl! She is also quite intense and yet sensitive. She s my third and I never needed parenting books before this sweet girl came into my life. Of course it feels harder because I am well into my forties. My biggest issue right now is her bossiness. I just don’t know how to handle it besides praying. I would love advice from anyone……

    I know God has a plan for each of us and our personalities are part of that plan.

    1. I have one of those spirited, bossy ones. Perhaps looking at Jesus as a model of a good leader. Discuss how you can see she wants to be a leader and important qualities of a leader, then reminding her when in the moment of those qualities. I am finding my bossy one benefits from a lot of empathy (‘I know, its hard when they dont want to do it your way. What are some ways of asking/making suggestions etc so it is fair?’), and having me during play sessions to model how to do it.

  3. I was very glad to see this. My son will be 2 soon and he is a wild child. He is very strong will and sometimes crazy. He plays rough, he constantly throws toys and other objects. I always discipline him and continue to love on him through everything. I stay at home with him and I know that I’m not teaching him these things nor is my husband. I don’t know where he gets some of the things he does. And it can be embarrassing when he acts crazy and its like I can’t control anything he does. I have been so stressed and tired and I wasn’t site what to do next. This post was helpful for me.

    1. I too had one of these…he is now 34, been in the military, a husband, father of three, a police officer and a good citizen. He is now raising his children in the way they should go. My advice is…don’t be so hard on yourself…do the next thing…each day…do the next thing. It is like labor…when you miss the technique you will get another chance. I wish I had spent more time praying outloud during the bouts. More time asking the Holy Spirit to be in the room. I wish I had been a better believer and that my faith had been stronger. Do not give up…do not give up.

  4. Thank you for your post. I have felt like a bad mom so many times. My prayer request with my ladies group had been to be patient mom, a good mom. With God I have realized that I am a good mom and I need to stay the course. There are days I have doubt, but I ask God to take away that thought and to guide me.

    I have a strong willed 5 year old boy. He is pretty good out in public, although there have been moments that I have totally stunned by his behaviour. We have, I think a fight for control. He wants the control. One day it took 40+ minutes of putting him back in a time out.

    One time watching 19 kids and counting, Jim Bob said something like “If you can get a strong willed kid to do right, he will be strong will to do what is right.” And that has stuck with me.

  5. Thank you for your transparency. Being involved in ministry is such a challenge when you do have spirited, enthusiastic children. Seems like people expect you to produce this perfectly well behaved compliant child and seem to forget that they are …children! 3 books that have blessed me tremendously:
    Grace Based Parenting Dr. Ted Kimmel
    The Christian Parenting Handbook Dr. Scott Turansky (released next week)
    Humility Andrew Murray (not a parenting book but illustrated that I need to humble myself even onto my children)

  6. On many levels, I can SO relate to your words here and your heart. — except that my oldest is just 5! I have recognized that same controlling fear in my parenting, and I’ve been wrestling and praying and battling it. So thankful that God transforms our struggles into pillars of strength: from fear to faith, all for His glory! I’m clinging to Him on this wild parenting ride, holding on tight and trusting as He leads!

  7. I thought I had this momma thing in the bag until baby #4 arrived. (We have five kids, and all the rest are easy-going and compliant) God has used this “wild child” to break my pride in how I parent and view other parents who have strong-willed kids. My husband and I pray daily that God would never cease chasing after our son’s heart and that God would use this boy’s “spirit” to do a mighty work for His GLORY! We look forward to seeing the plans God has in store for him.

  8. Courtney, I could have written this post myself! My son is almost five, but I know your feelings to a “T.” One thing I will add to your tips is something that helped my perspective tremendously when dealing with my strong willed boy. Just as grown men desire respect, so do our young boys. That may sound strange at first, but when I applied this idea, I saw big changes. Of course for each boy/man this can look a little different, but you can search to find your son’s triggers. You’ll see him get angry, embarrassed, or watch his spirit deflate. And that didn’t ever lead to anything good for us! Reprimanding him where others could see/hear (even at 3) was mortifying to him and only caused him to get angrier and act out worse. I still see these same triggers affecting him almost 2 years later. I have to be careful with my tone, my volume, and my facial expressions. Ugh. So difficult when you want to scream and run away on the inside!

    Thank you for your authenticity! You are a blessing!

    1. I really needed to hear this to remind me. My second husband and I are separated at the moment, and my parents divorced when I was 5. I have struggled with understanding what respect looks like toward ANY man in my life, despite a genuine desire. I have missed so many opportunities to make it right with all 3 of my boys (ages 4, 6 and 13). I also have 2 girls, and have found that it is so easy to break all their spirits when I am careless with words… But God’s mercies are new every morning, and being reminded here to pay attention in this area will give me strength in the days ahead. I know that every new opportunity to do it right counts. A recent song that has really encouraged me lately is “Words” by Hawk Nelson.

      “…Words can build you up
      Words can break you down
      Start a fire in your heart
      Or put it out

      Let my words be life
      Let my words be truth
      I don’t want to say a word
      Unless it points the world back to You

      You can heal the heartache
      Speak over the fear
      God, your voice is the only thing we need to hear”

      Thank you!

      1. You can change your marriage too. I was separated from my husband when God started teaching me what respect was. I fixed my behavior and my husbands behavior changed as a result. Praying for you sweetie!

  9. Thanks so much. I have 4 kiddos, 2 boys 2 girls. My oldest daughter was a wild child, who consistently was kicked out of the church nursery, had trouble making friends, etc. She is now a 12 year old beauty who is constantly complimented on how sweet and mature she is. Thanks for letting other mothers in on the secret that those days will pass and your child will blossom into what God intends for them.

  10. Thank you for this! I’ve had a rough week parenting my 2 and 5 y.o. daughters. I’ve felt like a failure and wondered how they will ever grow up to be the type of person I dream. This was just what I needed to release the guilt I place on myself and trust God to help me on this journey. Some days I’m so focused on surviving the day that I don’t look down the road to see all of this is part of our journey.

  11. THANK YOU so much for this!! I am so thankful for your honesty. I have a strong willed 2 year old and a baby, and the toddler went through a stage when the baby was born that I wouldn’t go back to for anything!! I agree, I am devouring Sally clarkson books right now!!

  12. My son will be 9 tomorrow. He’s been a pretty good kid. I think all boys are rambunctious, I think it’s just something in their DNA. Yes, some boys are more ‘spirited’ than others. I guess I was just blessed with an easygoing kid. I think boys need physical activity to help them burn off all that excess energy! I tried to teach him proper behavior when we are out in public. He also never went to preschool and his kindergarten teacher was wowed by that because he was MUCH calmer than kids who’d had 3 YEARS of preschool.

    Thank you Alex for letting your Mom share your story with us!!

  13. Thank you so much for writing this today. I bawled as tried to read through the blog, today has been one of those tough parenting days behind closed doors and in public. I have a very strong willed 8 yr old boy, who is extremely social, but emotionally acts very young at times and is defiant. Then I have twin 3 yr old boys who are very rambunctious, yet bright, so therefore, they get into everything. Today after reading your blog, I think it finally sunk in, that I really need to be on my knees praying for all these boys because I can’t do this alone. I pray for them from time to time and I keep thinking one day it is just going to come together, but I think that I have been missing the key part. I need to make sure that I bring it all to God, because I was not meant to do this by myself and I am a good mom. It is hard for me to say that because I don’t feel that way at all, but my children are well fed, clean, clothed, listened too, loved, hugged and taught about Jesus! So I guess I am a good mom and I need to leave all the rest of it to God.
    Thanks you for the encouragement and helping feel like I can make it through another day! Blessings to you and your family!

  14. I would love to share a little of my own story with you all. My son is 10 and I too experienced a wild child. I could only hope for the days where he would trow things in his room or scream at the top of his lungs and, yes even cuss me out. That would have been an improvement from what I was up against. My son was physically assaulting me almost every day. There were many factors that happened to my little one in his life. What worked for me was really getting to know my child. Knowing that if he took an inch he took 15 miles. Knowing that he LOVED challenging authority (got a kick out of it) and knowing how he would find loop holes in EVERYTHING that was said and done. From there I read books, as well as the word, and learned how to do less talking and let him figure out the lessons that were being taught. I would come up with creative ideas for his consequence and we came up with the lesson wall. It is a wall that he puts up lessons he learned when…. After his consequence I have him take 10 min to write down what he learned. I only do this after I feel he has gotten SOMETHING out of what the consequence was. To make this as shot as I can, What worked for me was lots of reading the word, teaching him the PRINCIPALS behind his actions, being patient, understanding, and learning him really really well. (which my husband had a LARGE part in!)

  15. I have three boys, and my youngest is 5 years old and very strong willed. He has driven me to prayer in ways the other two never did! I discovered a book a few months ago that has made a huge difference in how my husband and I understand and interact with him. The book is You Can’t Make Me (But I Can Be Persuaded), by Cynthia Tobias. As a strong-willed child herself, and from her experiences as a teacher and studies with many strong-willed kids, she has great insight into how strong-willed kids think and some practical strategies for dealing with them. We still have some challenges to deal with, but it has made a world of difference in the way we approach our son and handle the attitude and discipline issues that come up. I would highly recommend this book!

  16. So glad to read this! My son is 3 and has really began acting out at home lately. I have found myself feeling very angry and discouraged which only makes my body feel out of sorts and yucky and then guilt piles on. Thanks for the encouragement!!

  17. I am the Mother to a sixteen year old young man that I thank God for blessing me with EVERYDAY. But ti be honest, it wasn’t always that way. He was out of control at home and especially at school. They told me had ADHD and needed to be drugged. When I refused, I was told I was doing a disserve to my son. I still refused, read books on ADHD…how to organize and re-direct his energy. I prayed and I prayed, I cried and I felt like the world’s worse Mother. Fast-forward to sixteen….he is a “model student”, teachers and coached praise him for being a great, hardworking, honest boy. They make a point if telling me how hardworking and talented he is and kind to fellow students. And he loves the Lord….what sixteen year old loves to go ti church!!I thank God everyday that I chose to believe in him and believe in my son!! Now, if I could just get him ti clean his room!!

  18. Thanks for sharing this… thank you so much!! I am at the beginning of my journey with my precious baby boy, who is almost three. He sure has a strong will! I don’t have great tips for parenting books, but I really want to share something my husband thought me. It helped me so much. About a year ago, I was so tired of “fighting”with my little boy that my joy and love for him was almost gone… I feel so embarresed to say this, but it is true…
    I couldn’t see his good things and was mad at him all the time. Then my husband told me that I had to focus on my love for him, to seek for moments where I could enjoy him again. I began with watching him when he was asleep, then I countend his little fingers again en listend to him breathing. Just as simple as that. I began to see again how beautiful made he was and I felt the love for him floating again. I did this every evening, and found other moments where I could really enjoy him, like singing for him when he went to bed, to stand still for a moment and see him play.
    This all has brought back my patience back and it made our bond stronger again.

    I still struggle with his tantrums (and those looks from other mommy’s…) but I can handle it better. I have more rest en patience now.
    Thanks so much Courtney! For all your stories, your my Titus 2- woman!

    With love, Sandra
    (The Netherlands)

  19. Oh Courtney,
    I can so relate to you! We have a son, who is now almost 9 years old, who I doubted would ever turn out to be a lovely, young, Godly man. Over the years, we have invested so much into him, just as you described – alot of training, explaining, praying, disciplining, you name it…

    And it was about 6 months ago when we started to notice this incredible, spiritually strong, compassionate, serving young man emerging. He is still our biggest challenge from among our 4 children, but his life and the transformation we have seen in him has been the most rewarding, and the most motivating too in training our other children.

    There truly is hope in the Lord! Long may it continue that God takes our measly efforts, and turns caterpillars into butterflies!

    With my love to you,
    Tehila (an Israeli living in New Zealand :-))

  20. Thank you for your honesty, and sharing this topic.
    I felt the same way and I am in the mist of it with my little girl.
    I needed this message like air to breath.
    Keep up the good work and never stop sharing his message.
    May God truly Bless you.
    Inez Foreman

  21. Thank you so much for sharing this and I’m so glad I read it. I live and work at a children’s center in Mozambique and currently care for 24 precious little boys, ages 4-8, all in one dorm, eight boys each in three rooms. (I do have national staff who help of course, not me alone!) They come to us because something, somewhere is broken so they already tend to be a challenge. And yet I persist in thinking I should have 24 perfectly behaved little boys or I feel like a failure. Oh, the PRIDE! You nailed it. Thank you for calling it what it is so I can face it head on as well. Of course, it’s not only pride, we truly desire children who will be a blessing and will therefore be blessed themselves. But the unrealistic expectations boil down to pride. This post is a piece of the weight lifting off!

  22. My son was an easy going people pleaser. All I had to do was give him “the look” and he’d straighten right up. Then I had my daughter…totally the opposite. Terrible twos started when she was a year and a half and continued well into the teen years. My advice is to pick your battles; and consistency is the key…never threaten what you won’t carry out. I’ve taken my daughter to church in her PJs and housecoat because I knew if I made her change then she’d be horrible in the nursery; I’ve had to tell her that I couldn’t talk to her right now because “mommy needed a time out” because I needed to calm down; she got coffee on a flight because she was at a melting point (extremely long day due to canceled flights and waits at the airport) so when she ordered it I let her have it for the sanity of everyone on board…she was 3. I did the counting thing with her only to have her say “two, three” and spank herself. so besides time outs for bad behavior (sometimes having to physically hold her in the chair while she screamed for the duration of the time out), what worked best was giving her choices that i could live with and then she felt like she had some control. Boundaries were set and kept! My daughter pushed and tested the boundaries all the time, and finally figured out that all the whining and tantrums got her nowhere because I wouldn’t give in. She is now 19 and a beautiful giving young woman! So hang in there…better days are ahead. Ignore the stares when they are pitching fits; remain calm and come up with a code word meaning that you’ll discuss this later in the privacy of your own home. Listen to their feelings too. And most of all…hug them and let them know that they are loved regardless.

    1. Thank you for this. I too have an easy going sweet older son and a strong-willed (understatement) daughter who will be 3 in June. When she is sweet, boy is she sweet, but when she is wild and the toddler tantrum/attitude comes out – oh my! I love my children, but for those hard days where I have tried everything under the sun and just want to cry when the difficult moments arise, I seek the Lord with all my heart. Your words are encouraging to this mother who is currently in the trenches during these
      early years. xo

  23. Courtney, I can relate to this! I have a wild 5yr old daughter. She is so wild, so active, never listening to instructions. I can get her brother, not yet 2, to obey me more than she does. Sometimes it makes me crazy. I have yelled, i have screamed (literally) at her, and nothing changed. My parents told me to smack her. It does nothing, and i dont like to do it. I am seeing improvememt with her at school, and they told me she listens better now after 10 weeks than in the beginning. I am trying not to yell. I am trying to listen more and just let her be (even as she tears up the house around me). I realised that gentle instrauction is best, and, like you said, im realising that my fear of what other people think makes me too eager, angry even,to make her act a certain way. I yell when she yells because i worry what others will say hearing her yell…. But im yelling too!!! Thats not good!!! So this past week ive been letting her cry and yell it out Nd just being the quiet example. I hope i aee fruit later, as you said youhave,and im so glad for your article. We may have “that child” but we can still be peaceful mums 🙂

  24. So well said, Courtney. You eloquently captured how I have felt many times over the years. And from one who has been there, done that as a single parent (widow) for the last 13 years, take heart ladies. By God’s grace, your faithful perseverance will bear fruit. My sons are now 21, 19, and 17, and they are a joy to my heart and to others.

  25. Thank you! I needed this today. Like others have said….I feel like I have to do this on my own strength. What a great reminder to put it on The Lord, & for me to continually give this to him in prayer!!!

  26. Hi Courtney I just wanted to tell you that I totally understand your situation!! I am a 33 year old mama of 3 boys. My first son Noah was a nightmare from child birth. I remember thinking to myself I’m never having anymore of these. I did use harsh words and a tough hand out of my embarrassment from his behavior. However I also loved him (and still do) and taught him God’s word, showed him God’s love. Now as he is about to turn 13 he is still definitely a strong willed boy, which can be used for good and God’s glory, but I see glimmers of love and respect towards other. He has a better understanding of who God is and why he should have a relationship with Him and why obey him. God is so faithful to hear our hearts cries. I love being able to identify with you 🙂

  27. Thank you for sharing your heart. Too many times we can be hurt by judgemental comments about our
    children or even about us. We need to raise our
    children with the reminder that they are children that need training and it is a marathon. I so needed to read this. I have been very hurt in the past by someone’s comments. I am learning that my confidence and strength come from The Lord. I need to raise my children to the best of my ability and trust God with the rest.

  28. I’ve found that a lot of things I stressed and fretted over were just immaturity and have worked themselves out with time. I cringe at the harsh child trainning advice out there. It’s so common to over discipline, especially the first born.

    I like Kevin Leman’s books. “The New Birth Order Book” by him was insightful, and I’m currently reading, “If I Have to Tell You One More Time . . . ”

    I read, “Families Where Grace is in Place,” and learned the best thing I can do, is control myself. Responding and not reacting was a BIG break through for me. (Example: child spills the milk React: What you spilled the milk again!-yelling Respong: Uh oh, the mild spilled, lets get a rag and clean it up-calmly. )

    I also read, “To Fly Again,” and another breakthough for me was that we have to PRACTICE character traits like calmness, gentleness, patiences in our lives. These don’t just come and we are going to have set backs as a mom and our kids are going to have setbacks too. I used to think that Michelle Duggar was born with her calm voice and way with the kids, but she said she practiced that.

    My kids have taught me how I act towards God. Kid complains and whines, that’s ugly and what I look like when I complain and whine to God. Kids bicker over little petty things, yup, the things I get mad at others are petty and little too. Kids ungrateful, I am ungrateful to God too and it isn’t pretty.

    Sorry to ramble, just been learning a lot lately in the trenches.

    1. Amy, I also agree with your respond instead of react. (I have a strong-willed 8yo boy who drives me bonkers in so many ways. His 5yo younger brother is the mild one.) One thing I will say with our boys, though, is that when they were about 2 and 5 we made comments like “the books fell off the table; let’s pick them up” but what we realized was that they both started releasing responsibility for their actions. In other words, they started to no longer associate their behaviors with the outcome of them. For them, it was like The Family Circus comics where “No One” or “Not Me” or “Somebody” did it.

      We then changed to statements of fact, like “since your elbow pushed the books off the table, I expect your help to put them back.” It worked so much better in our family (it may not be an issue at all for yours), and the boys then were the ones who started to realize that they were the ones who should be fixing what they messed up, though they could have my help to do so. They started seeing what they had (even accidentally) done and then letting me know if it was bigger than they were able to handle or if they just wanted my assistance.

      I can’t say life is all rainbows and marshmallows, but I can say that I have children who are not afraid to admit wrongdoing and try to be part of the solution as well.

  29. I can’t tell you what a blessing it was to read this, this morning. I have been struggling with my son for months now. I have 4 children, 2 boys and 2 girls. I went thru this with my oldest and after doctor after doctor I finally relented and put him on the medicines for ADHD. I hated giving it to him every time, even when I was told how much better he acted at school. Now I deal with it again with my youngest son and I am doing everything in my power not to go that route again. My oldest is off the medicines now but still has the “mood swings”. I believe he never got these out of his system when he was young because of the medicines. There are so many steroids in our foods now and they are deeply affecting our children. My son will have to repeat Kindergarten and I’m told to put him on the meds over the summer but I’m also told he started school to early because he was born early and wouldn’t have started school this year had he been born on his due date. Really?!! I am so glad to see this post and all these women with the same problems. I have asked the Lord to send me a sign of what to do, and now I know. I know, as with all these moms on this blog, I have a boy just being a boy. God bless you and your family, Courtney, and please continue to share wonderful issues like these. 🙂

    1. Hugs for you Brandi, we have been told medication will solve our problems too, even though we have had doctors and psychologists disagree over whether or not we are dealing with Aspergers or maybe even ADHD. Praying you can persist without the medication.

    2. Have you heard of the Feingold diet? It truly works. I’d encourage you to give it a shot and see if it helps. You can find information at Also there is a facebook page where you can get lots of ideas from other moms about it….
      I am SO very thankful to God that I stumbled upon that website when my son was first diagnosed with autism. It has made such a difference! You wouldn’t think food would cause such behavior problems but it does for some kids! My son now looks me in the eyes. He listens to me. I can actually walk in a store and not even have to hold his hand and he’ll stay with me. He sleeps through the night. He’s SO much calmer and happier. My sister in law tried it with her out of control boy and it’s working for him too!!

      1. Oh my goodness, I did not know that the Feingold diet was still around! I am 53 years old and a product of that diet. Yes, I was a HUGE mess as a child. My mother despaired of ever being able to manage me. At one point that she took my younger sister to a specialist because the pediatrician told her there was something wrong with her. As you can guess, the specialist told Mama I was the problem and prescribed the diet, which was pretty experimental at the time. My own daughter, now 20, has some of the same issues I have and we have needed to learn how to live in this world with ADHD. I still think the diet was the beginning of the entire process for us both. My prayers and encouragement for all of you. Honestly, you WILL be able to let the little ones live and some day be able to look back and see that while rough, it was worth every bit of the jourrney.

  30. Tearing up as I read this. *sniff, sniff* We have 18mths between oldest son (6yo) and daughter (5yo) and you have just described my house (with the exception of a 2 yo son as well).
    I have a very aggressive, impulsive boy and feel like I am always being judged as a mum and he is isolated because of his behaviour. This week we had a letter home from school because other children feel threatened by his behaviour. He’s a first grader!
    I will take to heart what you have written and hope for a beautiful 10 yo 🙂
    Thank you so much for sharing what so many mums can related to.

  31. As a woman who is raising 7 kids, 4 born to me and 3 who came to me with shoes on through marriage, this hits home! It’s in those moments of their strong will clashing with yours that bring you down to your knees in realization that we are so like the israelites in our stubborness and pride. How much more than do we need to stop and remember Gods patience and love with his children and that we are called to model that! I pray Hebrews 12:1-3 for all of us who run this race with perseverance!

  32. Thank you so much for your honesty. A breath of fresh air……….I am learning the more open we are with our daily struggles……the more freedom we experience…….the enemy wants us to hide in fear……..I don’t want that any more and am trying to be more open and share more so that others may be helped and encouraged……….so thank you again for being an encouragement to me as I do struggle with how some of my children behave in public…..especially in my own backyard as others are watching……..this is a very tough area for me. I am still learning 🙂

    Blessings to you 🙂

  33. Thanks for sharing! I have a just-turned 4-year-old boy who has been difficult, strong-willed, etc. most of his life. But I already see much growth since he was 2 or 3 and i know he’ll continue to mature. Thanks for the encouragement

  34. Thank you so much for sharing your insight. We’re raising a wild child, who is now 14. And she is a complete blessing to us. When she was little we found a book called “Raising Your Spirited Child” by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka. In this gem there are little self-tests for you and your spouse… What an eye-opener that was! Knowing that my husband and I are also “spirited” people, and our daughter was, too, gave us a way to work with each other. While the book is secular, there is nothing that I’ve found to be in opposition to Scripture’s teaching. (However, if someone does find something in there, please let me know!) Our daughter isn’t perfect and neither am I. We try very hard to see that our family if both a gift from God and a way that He uses to sanctify each of us. I love that my daughter is compassionate, vivacious, loving, forgiving, and tender-hearted. She is uniqely created and precious to God (and us). Having a spirited/wild child can be heart-breaking at times, but it can also be heart-breakingly beautiful, too.


  35. Courtney, your insights are spot on! As a Children’s Minister, do you have suggestions for me as to how to deal with that little Work in Progress? I have one who stands and lies on chairs during Children’s Church, flails/touches neighboring children, and who defies me verbally and physically when asked to sit. (Of course, none of that behavior is in evidence when I ask one of his parents to attend with him – so they don’t see the behavior, although he has been invited to leave a day care previously, so I know the behavior is not totally isolated.) Thanks for any help in this area.

  36. I so relate and boys are so much different then girls. Why I started reading Wild Things The Art of Nurturing Boys, soooooo good so far, really helping me understand my boy and his adventurousness exploring spirit.

  37. Wow, I needed this today. My son was not a wild child and is now 20 but I need to remember he is still learning, maturing, and growing. I am still learning and maturing at age 50 so I need to give him the time to learn. I also keep praying for God to open his heart and eyes to what He has in store for his life and to stop trying to do all on his own strength. Thank you for the reminder not to set our standards by what is public but by what we do at home.

  38. thank you! and may God bless you for this post…I see now I’m not the only one out there on the “battle field” 🙂 we’re fighting a great enemy for our children souls, but you know what…we’ve got SOMEONE EVEN GREATER on our side…. 🙂

  39. Oh my, your post brought back so many memories. I have a wild child or as Dr. Dobson’s book would say a ‘defiant child’. I cried, SCREAMED, feared, all the things that you shared, I did, too. But I have experienced somethings you haven’t. He is now 39. He is leader now in church, who can express himself in beautiful ways. So now instead of those talks in the hall from the class teacher, I gets talks in the hall praising his ability to touch hearts with his words, prayers and expressions of love. I watched he and his wife cling to their faith 9 years ago, as they watched their first born go through 9 surgeries in the first 6 months of his life due to a heart defect called HLHS. We said good-bye when he went to live with Jesus at 7 1/2 months. So I was able to witness something I had hoped for all his life. I had hoped that that same ‘wild child’ would be able to channel that strong personality to be strong in the LORD when life happened. Praise God, they are still strong in the faith and have a 7 year old little girl. Now the challenge is that little girl is a ‘wild child’, so now my role evolves into the voice of experience to encourage him as a parent. Without the experience of raising him, I would be one of those judgmental people who think ‘obviously, that parent doesn’t discipline that child’ when in reality, more discipline is doled out on the wild child than my other two children. One of my favorite songs helped carry me through raising him. It is by Wayne Watson and is called, “Somewhere in the World Today”. This song encouraged me in two ways. One, there is a line that says, “celebrate the little victories”. Those four words helped me finally realize where I was to find peace. Not in him suddenly becoming a compliant low key child, but in the little changes I see. And two, the whole song is about praying for the three little girls that would one day be my daughter-in-laws. I didn’t know their names at the time, but they were lifted in prayer. Thank you for sharing.

  40. I have two in college now and one a Sophomore in high school. I just read something this morning that said parenting is working yourself out of a job and it truly is … we want to train up our children to one day fly away and be successful a part from us. (Although they will always come back home once in a while 🙂 we hope)

    The most helpful book for me was “Raising Christians, not just Children” by Florence Littaur. EXCELLENT BOOK AND TREMENDOUS RESOURCE!!!

  41. My daughter is 16 and we are still waiting to see the fruits of our labor. They started to surface when she was around 11 or 12 but seem to have gotten swallowed back up. Your post is encouraging for me as the parent of a teen wild child. Thank you!

  42. First – you are such an encouragement!! I LOVE your blogs, and this one is my favorite by far – definitely struck a nerve with me. I am raising what I prefer to call a “passionate, sensitive soul,” and I adore her precious spirit. I become discouraged sometimes, but typically it’s when I’ve allowed myself to hold her to others’ standards, or the world’s standards. By God’s standard, she is perfectly created in the image of and by her Heavenly Father, and who am I to bicker with the gifts He gave her??
    Secondly – I have definitely read a “few” parenting books, and my favorites by far have been by Dr. James Dobson – “Bringing Up Boys” and “Bringing Up Girls.”
    Thanks for the time you put into your ministry. It is very appreciated 🙂

  43. I have a question — what are your thoughts on children who have been diagnosed with ADHD? I know you are no MD, but I would like some insight on how one may go about raising one a child who has this. I have twin 4 year old boys and one son, Alex, he is just like your son when he was younger — straight wild child. Cameron (the one who has “ADHD”) he is also wild, but not nearly so much as his twin, he’s more like the dog in Up… Squirrel! :D. But in all seriousness, how does a mom, who is a “single” mom 5 days out of the week (husband and I currently live in 2 cities, temporarily) raise a wild child and a same age child with ADHD? I honestly do not even know if I believe that ADHD is a real condition. Any thoughts from anyone would be great, because, I feel like a bad mom (I’m active duty Air Force) because my kids ARE CRAZY XD

    1. I just wrote the longest answer ever lol! And deleted it – this is something I need to think about a little more and refine my thoughts on and I think it should be a blog post – so I’ll publish it soon for you. 🙂

      Thanks for asking this question –I do have some thoughts -I’ll get back to you.


      1. Thank you so much for responding…his doctor just wants to put him on meds and thinks that I am not a good mother because I really do not want to put him on medicine. She thinks he won’t be able to function in pre-school because he is so “crazy” and it really kills my confidence in being a mother. I’ve actually held my sons back a little from pre-school because I knew they weren’t ready.

        These boys were born 2 months early so being pre-mature has a lot to do with it, as well as what God has blessed us with 🙂

        1. Michelle have you access to a Pediatric OT? A lot of children on the Austism Spectrum or with ADHD have sensory issues.
          My son (6yo) is over stimulated visually and we have learnt that he tries to regulate his behaviour through seeking movement and touch, but at an unacceptable levels. It is not uncommon for him to climb on our house roof, climb on the car, hang upside down off furniture, hit and kick, etc. All things not seen as acceptable to those that don’t understand why it is happening. (Not that we often do in heat of the moment either).
          We are seeing an OT (as well as a doctor and psychologists) and although we have a long way to go, she is helping us understand why he acts out. His mind doesn’t process sensory input the way a ‘normal’ persons does.
          I would recommend reading ‘The Out of Sync-Child’ by Carol Kranowitz

          1. He went to a OT for a little bit but I don’t think she really did anything that helped him. His biggest thing is seriously like the squirrel in the movie Up…he other things just grab his attention.

            We are trying a holistic approach right now with probiotics, fish oil, and soon coconut oil as well his environment.

        2. I feel for you. I too am blessed with 2 strong-willed children. My son, i suspected had ADHD since he was about 2. I worked with pre-schoolers before he was born and had a fairly good sense of what a “typical” toddler should behave…he wasn’t “typical” in any way. So, throughout pre-school through 2nd grade, I warned his teachers that he was “ADD-like”. All his teachers at first dismissed me, then they taught him. At every conference, they basically came back with “your right”. Fast-forward, 2nd grade, comes and he is assigned a wonderful teacher, who ‘gets’ him. At one conference, she mentioned that there is something off with this child and that as a mother, who agreed with her, i need to get to the bottom of this. So, after school got out, i had him tested for ADHD. The practioner, a behavior specialist, at first said no, he’s not ADD. But she also suspected autism. So, she gave me a “honey-do” list in order to rule out other potential problems. At the end of this list, was a learning evaluation given by the school. Low and behold, this learning eval points LOUDLY to autism and ADHD. We immediately did an about face, issued an IEP, put him on meds, and suddenly, I have a wonderful sweet boy. Now, in the 4th grade, he’s on Ritalin (a miracle drug honestly) which controls almost all of the behaviors that autism and ADHD and he’s in therapy 2 hours a week.
          As a parent and a christian, i definately believe ADHD does exist. The frontal cortex of the brain can not develop properly and as a result, autism, ADHD, epilepsy and other disorders exist. I do advocate for meds but i also say, that if you as a parent genuinely think something is off, with your child, then have them thoroughly evaluated and observed by several different experts to arrive at a consensus.
          My daughter was diagnosed with ADD immediately. At first, my thought was that she was diagnosed too quickly. Well, after two years with this diagnosis, and being on Adderall, I’ve come to say, no, the behavior doctor was right.

    2. Michelle. I feel your pain. My son has been kicked out of daycares because he is not listening. The private school that he was going to when he was 3-4 told me I probably shouldn’t send him to public school, because they will not tolerate any of his acting up, but I can’t afford private school anymore. So I have just signed him up for kindergarten. I just recently had him tested for ADHD and they said he was. So he is taking the generic form of adderol. He is still his normal self he plays hard and jumps around when it is time to do that, but he is finally able to sit and listen to the home daycares preschool lesson without interrupting the other children. My husband and I both work from 8-5 so by the time we pick him up the medicine is out of his system and he is sooooooo excited to tell me that he behaved and listened to his teacher. I felt comfortable with the diagnosis of ADHD (only) because my daycare provider videotaped her teaching the lesson and it showed the other kids sitting still and listening to what she was teaching and my son was reaching from side to side and just could not sit still in his chair like all the other kids. Last week My son was about to take his pill and he told me he didn’t need the pill and that he would make his brain slow down by himself, so the next day he did not take a pill . When we went to pick him he was crying because he had misbehaved and wasnt cooperating with tether, so we talked and he told me he needs to take the medicine so he can listen and behave. I am praying that he will grow out of this. I was talking to a neighbor today who said their are a Lot ot myths about these medicines for add/ADHD. One of them is that they might become drug addicts because they get dependent on these, not true. The dr. Said there are a lot of kids who turn TO drugs, because in school they may feel slow or dumb because they can’t focus which eventually leads to not caring and for a lot turning to drugs. When she told me this it really hit home for me, because my husband and I were talking and his oldest son was diagnosed with ADHD, but his mother didn’t want him on the medicine, so he was never treated. Needless to say he was an out of control teen went into special education classes and dropped out and is now a felon and alcoholic, so my husband was telling me last night he wonders if his son had taken the medication would he be different and with that info from my neighbor today I believe that was the Lord telling me to not be ashamed that my son is taking this medication and that this is for his own good. The Lord is a Healer after all. Also, my dad has been a drunk/drug addict on and off through out my life. He is an 8th grade drop out and was diagnosed at 45 with ADHD. On the flip side I have a co worker who’s daughter had taken the medication from 5-18 and when the daughter turned 18 she decided she was going to take control and stop taking the medication. She is not a high school drop out and has finished beauty school without the medication and is now a wonderful hairdresser. I’m sorry I wrote so much, I didn’t mean to make it this long I just felt where you are coming from. I hope this has helped you the way it has helped me.

    3. May I recommend The Explosive Child by Ross Greene Ph.D. The author is quite conservative when it comes to diagnoses and medicine. He does share at times these things are beneficial, though in his belief not in most cases. He is a rare bird in his field of psychiatry, and his method of treatment is through collaborating with your child by communicating and problem solving. He has developed a good system of doing so. His book as well as P.E.T. and The Heart of Anger are great to me because they really caused me to look at my methods of parenting which had been way off for our family, but quite common among most. With the approach of solving problems (ours and our children’s) instead of tackling mere behaviors of our children we are doing much better. Also we are working on the sensory system and exercises that benefit. I was diagnosed with ADD in my thirties which lead be to discover many effective ways for me to learn, remember and communicate. And the years of low self esteem were then able to lose their grip on me. I was not lead to medicine, and the information that helped most (although labeled under the ADD header) could have been reached otherwise if not so scattered and had I known what to look for. My point is that the label may not be important but the help certainly is. I have always known I stood out and be it lagging skills like Dr. Greene would say or a disorder, the bottom line is that help is what I needed and finally got for myself. These days I am reaching out for my children and need not wait for a label, but instead I’m sharing my resources and learning what I can where I can most importantly with my children. I hope all of us are able to find what our families need as different as those needs may be.

    4. I recommend that anyone whose child exhibits signs of ADHD seek a full developmental evaluation (such as a neuropsych evaluation), preferably not through a school (by necessity, they seek to remediate symptoms, not necessarily serve the whole child). ADHD is supposed to be a diagnosis of exclusion, meaning that a child receives this label after everything else has been RULED OUT. This rarely actually happens. My husband used to work in pediatrics, so we’ve seen a lot. We could have easily and quickly had our son labeled ADHD inattentive type, but I knew something was not quite right about that. There were too many unexplained problems. One book we found helpful when we were looking for direction is called The Mislabeled Child by Brock and Fernette Eide. They sort through many developmental and behavioral issues, comparing and contrasting symptoms. The symptoms of ADHD overlap with many, many things. So do symptoms of other issues. This book helps parents look at the bigger picture to be sure that any diagnosis they receive has been arrived at carefully. In addition, if a child is labeled ADHD with co-morbid disorders (OCD, ODD, SPD), some specialists believe that a broader label should be considered if it explains all of the issues instead of pinning multiple labels with multiple approaches to the child. (Bright not Broken is a good book about this.) Also, if your child is very bright, some symptoms may look very different than with a kid who is more average. Above all, if the label you receive does indeed fit, and you have a peace from God about it, don’t fear the label. It should open doors for you. We sought an eval and received a place to start (change some things to see if it’s all inattention, or if there is more going on). When we changed those variables, the symptoms changed too! So, we read the book, sought a second evaluation that was more thorough, and realized we were dealing with something more broad that explained all of the issues. Best wishes to you.

  44. Thank you so much for the honest look at your struggles. Thru the tears as I read, I realized that I’m not the only Christian momma struggling with this. Having raised 4 older who are now all out of the house – 2 still in college and feeling like we came thru it fairly well – I was dumped headfirst into child # 5 – we have his, mine and ours. The 10yr old we have left at home is ours. I do swear that most days I feel she will be the death of me. There is a 10yr gap between her and her next brother – so we have a child who from day 1 was and is the “baby” of the house and an instant teenager all at the same time. She grew up in the high school with her siblings and it was cute when she was 3 – not so much any more!!
    We now have a daily struggle with the sassy mouth and backtalk – and I’m left in tears wondering what in the world I’m doing wrong and how did this even happen. Her older siblings are annoyed with her and me, my family is annoyed and I’m just DONE!
    It did my heart so good to read that I’m not alone in this fight and there will be a light at the end of the journey. So as I read my devotion for today and pray, pray, pray for my myself and my daughter and some understanding and peace between us – Thank You for being there. 🙂

  45. I don’t have kids yet, but I already worry about this for when I do! I am far too much of a people pleaser and want others to think well of me. Some parents that I see on a regular basis have different parenting ideas and strategies that I already know I don’t really agree with, and so I worry what they’ll think of me as a parent when I’m not dealing with my kids in the same way!
    I also hear some people imply that if your child throws a tantrum or does x, y, or z, it’s because you didn’t do something right as a parent. I really don’t think that’s true. Sometimes kids will behave like children.
    I also thinking dealing with behavior issues in public has to be so difficult and I’m sure parents feel like everyone is watching to see how they’ll deal with it! I can’t imagine how stressful that must be.

  46. Oh, how well I understand this post!

    I am blessed with an extremely intelligent, strong willed son who will be 16 next Saturday. To say that I’ve had challenging moments is an understatement! When he was little we had a cycle of 6 really great months and 10 days of knock-drag-out fights. All day. It was awful, and there were many nights where I’d put him to bed and go hide in my room so I could cry my eyes out. I finally realized that I would have to pick my battles, so I came up with four rules he had to follow: 1. Don’t ignore me – if I spoke to him, he had to respond so I knew he heard me. In Texas we teach them to say “yes ma’am”, but between us, he could say “ok” every now and then. 2. Use good manners – I focused on “please”, “thank you”, and saying things in a respectful way. 3. Use a normal voice – I taught him he could say anything he wanted to me, but it had to be respectful, and it had to be a conversation. With all those emotions bouncing on and off the radar, he had to learn to talk things out, and we’ve had MANY conversations along the way! 4. Don’t argue – He was allowed to express his opinion, but he had to learn that I was in charge, and some things aren’t negotiable. It may sound mean, but I really believe that if you don’t establish that early on you end up raising little emperors. Those cute little guys grow up to be adult emperors, and that is definitely not good. When he started to act up I made (sometimes forced) him to tell me what the 4 rules were, and which one he was breaking. I had zero tolerance on those 4 things, but I learned to overlook a lot of other things. If he threw a tantrum and wanted to roll around on the floor and scream himself hoarse, well, ok. But when he was done and it was time to talk, he had to calm down and straighten up. If he was still upset and wanted to shout, I’d say “Nope, you come back and talk to me when you’re ready”. He hated that! Other times I’d say “Just talk to me. I’m listening.” Over time, he learned that talking was the ONLY gateway to solving a problem.

    For most of his childhood I felt like a horrible mother, and I second-guessed myself on almost everything. But now that he’s 16 I often stop in awe at what an amazing son I have! He is responsible and polite, and is a strong Christian. He is a Boy Scout ( a program I HIGHLY recommend, by the way), and as an older Scout he is a role model for the younger Scouts in the troop. Sometimes I have to pinch myself when I see my wild little monkey speak with firm tenderness to a young boy half his size. He just completed an Emergency First Responder class, and recently worked in the First Aid booth at our local Scout Fair. He took care of everything from BandAids to helping a woman through a seizure.

    He is still strong willed and opinionated, and we still have our conversations, but now we can also throw in discussions about faith, how to fix the lawn mower, or politics. I think if you can survive the onslaught you begin to realize that a strong-willed child is an incredible blessing. They have strength, perserverence, and they can definitely go the distance. Also, I think it strengthens us as mothers. I never knew I HAD a backbone until God blessed me with my son. I’ve learned about setting healthy boundaries in my own life, and if someone doesn’t respect them, I can look them straight in the eye and calmly discuss it. Amazing. I never dreamed that would happen in my life!

    Keep in mind that I’m writing this about a 16 year old young man. We’re not going through the harrowing experiences that some parents face with teenagers. He’s not perfect, and we still have our ups and downs, but there is peace in our home through it all. It’s much easier to start off on a short leash and loosen up when they’re older than it is to try and rein kids in later on.

    To all the Moms out there who are struggling, I will say “hang in there”. Pray. Stay calm. And don’t be afraid to draw your line in the sand. You won’t kill your kids by being firm about it, and the long term benefits are beyond your wildest dreams. I promise.

    1. I ABSOLUTELY LOVE YOUR 4 RULES!! We are not from Texas (California) but I refuse to a raise a man that has no manners nor shows respect and have entitlement issues! I seriously think God is answering my prayers because I have been at my wits end with my twins. We’ve bounced around day care providers, getting those same embarrassing talks to in the hall at church because my kids are acting out. So many times I’ve felt alone and wondered why I couldn’t have a “normal” child who listened to instruction and knew how to behave. But again, thank you for sharing your 4 rules — they are awesome

    2. Thanks for the story. We kind of have the same rules in our house, but they’re unspoken and just “understood.” I think we’ll have to try actually committing them to memory like you made your son do. I can totally see how it would help.

    3. I have basically these same rules with my son with one additional. If he pitches a fit, tantrum, or is disciplined, when he has calmed down we must talk about what happened and why before he can do anything else. Wish I would have had this procedure in place for his older sister. Wonderful, wonderful gal, but boy howdy can we go round and round!

  47. Courtney,
    Thank you sooo much for your post. I too have struggled with all you talked about and continue to learn. What a blessing! What encouragement!

  48. Beautifully said. I, too, raised a spirited child. I remember calling my mom one day with tears in my eyes saying “I need to learn how to guide this boys spirit without breaking it.” People in Home Depot asked me if he was hyperactive at around 4 yrs old. I read Dr. Dobson, “Bringing up Boys” and a book called “Raising a Spirited Child”. While I think NEITHER of these books helped me Train up my son right, they both gave me “permission” to HAVE a BOY. After those books, when someone made a comment about his “hyperactivity”, I just smirked and said “HE IS ALL BOY AND I WOULDN’T WANT HIM ANY DIFFERENT!” These books gave me the strength to have an ALL BOY, BOY.

    Today my boy is 14-years-old and I get nothing but compliments from people regarding this child. He is well manner, kindhearted, helpful, loving, but still a boy. I am very proud of the young man he has turned out to be.

    On the flip side, I know someone who had a BOY and they did EVERYTHING to make him conform. He is now at 13, a very moody, sad boy.

    I am blessed that God gave me the wisdom to go through the “fun” years.

    1. I had a children’s ministry lady ask me if my children were ADHD because they were so hyperactive :-/

    2. I had an uncle tell me my son, at the age of 2, should be medicated because he was too energetic/hyper. Of course my son was the first of three boys and is actually now the calmest of the bunch!

  49. Thanks so much for posting this Courtney! It’s something I really needed to hear. My 4 year old was an “easy” child the first 3 years of her life. She was easy-going and very well behaved in our home and in public. It was rare to have to reprimand her. Things started to change when I had my son. She was 3 and suddenly fighting for attention. She loved her brother and tried taking on a mothering role as much as possible, but also started being demanding and a little naughty just to get some needed attention. Lately she has started lying and unfortunately is very good at it. Our 17 month old is picking up on some of the naughty behaviors from his sister and kids at daycare. Some days I find myself on the verge of tears, wondering what I am doing wrong. It’s so comforting to know that it may not be something I’m doing wrong, but instead just their age and too high of expectations from me. Thanks again!

  50. I have three boys 5, 2 and 1 and my second son is the wild one. My first one was/is compliant and has always been “easy”. Of course, I thought my good, consistent parenting was the reason he was so well behaved. Then our second one came along and I realized that it had very little to do with my parenting, that it was just their personalities! I always say that God gave us our second one to humble us! I no longer look down on other parents whose kids are screaming in the store b/c now it’s usually mine! The funny thing is, my wild child is a lot like me. God has used him in a mighty way to reveal things in me that needed to be changed so I feel like we’re in this together…both learning and growing. I firmly believe that God gave him to us to humble us and to give me a clearer picture of myself. Very convicting! I’ve read a million parenting books and my favorite by far is Boundaries With Kids by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. It’s a christian parenting book, but would be helpful for anyone reading it. Some books focus too much on the parent changing the child’s heart (which is God’s responsibility) and those books put so much pressure on me as a mother. Although we need to be mindful and aware of what’s going on in their hearts, we cannot change them. Our job is to love, discipline, pray and trust God to do the work in their hearts! Thanks for posting this…it’s SO encouraging to hear that all the hard work we’re putting into our “wild child” will pay off down the road!

  51. Oh bless you for this post … God couldn’t have sent this post to me at a better time . I too have a very strong willed 3 year old ( next week ) . He has been in the ” terrible 2’s” since 18months . I have never seen a child have energy from the start of the morning until the end . I cringe when we go to play areas .. Thinking who is he going to hit , what mom will think I’m horrible , how many kids will we have to apologize too :/ Church is definetly getting better , his number used to go up on screen weekly .. And each week would be the same ” oh he was too aggressive with the other children ” . I would of course say I’m sorry and tell them we are working on this . Just last night I took both BRAYLEN and his sister to Barnes and nobles for pajama / story time . Of course my 2 were the ones up and moving not listening to the sweet lady reading the book .. And when it was time to leave we a had a melt down on the floor / crying / screaming to the car …. On the other hand he can be the SWEETEST little boy ( so its in there ) . He will give the biggest hugs , kisses , hold his little sisters hand when we are walking etc … I try to focus on the positive , but sometimes my Ommotions and patience get the best of me :/ Someone even said ” he might benefit from daycare ” …. Oy . I am starting him in our church’s school in the summer and fall. Just a few half days a week ( hoping this will help with his interaction ) . I can never let him get board because he will find something not so pleasant to get into . Lol. I wish 2 year olds came with a manual ?! 🙂 everyone tells me 3’s are worse . Eek . It’s nice to know there are other moms out there going through the same thing … Because I look for you all the time 🙂 just to know I’m not the only one .

    1. Ps . Coming from his mom who loves her strong willed baby boy ! We may go through trying times , but I am still so grateful God blessed me with him !

  52. Good Morning Courtney! Thank you so much for this post. God has spoken to me through you today. I have 2 wild boys. They are 8 and 5. I have spent many hours crying and beating myself up over this very topic. I have told my husband many times that I’m not a good mom, and I must be doing something wrong. Of course, he always tells me that is not true and that I am a wonderful mom. He just told me last night, “You have to remember they are boys and they are not going to have perfect behavior”. I feel that I have two little wild animals running around my house at all times. I want to be able to enjoy my children without constantly getting on to them. I feel that I try so hard, but do not see the results of my labor. Thank you for reminding me that I’m not the only one struggling with wild boys and encouraging me to continue on this journey with faith and hope. 🙂

  53. Spot on! My wild child(ren) are now 18 & 22. By God’s grace they are both loving and walking with the Lord. One is even a children’s Pastor! I continue to hit my knees constantly and I am sure that even though God allowed me to be a mom; he also had much to teach me through my children! God Bless you as you keep on this journey called parenting.

  54. Hi Courtney,
    I know what you mean. My children are grown now. Our son will be 22 next week if all goes well and our daughter is 19.
    With my son it has taken a lot more years. The thing is to repeat, repeat and repeat again. Don’t give up.
    He has grown into a young man who can get along with everyone. It is so great to see that things you thought would never stick, now are things he finds important too.
    Mommies, please don’t give up, stay with it and the reward will come. Soon for some later for others, but it will be there !!

  55. I loved your post today. My kids are older now (9 and 7), so I am now dealing with my kids’ friends and issues that all of that brings to the table. There is a little girl who is so “controlling” with my daughter and my daughter allows it to happen. I am so frustrated as to figure out how to instill confidence in herself to not allow others to treat her that way. My husband and I have always lifted her up and reinforced how she is a special and wonderful girl and how God made her perfectly. We always show her we love her, including disciplining her. Do you have any suggestions? Thank you!

  56. Thank you so much for sharing this post to us! This is exactly what I need because I am also undergoing almost the same kind of dilemma. I am really looking for solutions to get rid of this problem but to no avail. It even came to a point where I became a little depressed thinking about how poor I am at raising a child. This post really helped me a lot and I learned so much!

  57. I am so glad you wrote this post! When my son was 4 we were in a arguement when for some reason I asked him “how old are you?” To which he replied “I four years old”. I realized the I was asking him to be older than he was. I was asking him to be an adult. So for years after that when my boys had pushed me too far before punishment I would ask them how old they were as a check for me. They are now 14 and 16 and I could not be more proud of he young men they have become .

  58. Thank you so much for this post and the reminder that we as parents are not defined by our children’s behavior. I have a daughter who will be 5 in a couple of months, and since about 2 months old, everyone, including me, have been trying to ‘fix’ her. This past year has been a huge eye opener to me. She is exactly who God created her to be. He doesn’t want me to fix her, he wants me to love her, and teach her about Him. Right now, at this your age, it seems like this behavior is who she is, and it is always going to be a struggle. Your post came right when I needed it most. You reminded me that it isn’t always going to be this way. Stay the course, fight the good fight, and lean on Jesus. Right now the road seems long and dark, but it stay that way forever. Thanks for the beautiful reminder that this is a journey not a destination!

  59. Oh how I needed this post today! Even though my kids are older (20, 14 & 13), I’ve spent many years being shameful and regretful for my parenting abilities, or lack thereof, while they were toddlers. Like you, I had read just about every parenting book available, and each one I read made me feel more guilty than the last. It wasn’t until I had a similar conversation with an older lady, a grandmotherly precious woman who helped put my journey of motherhood into perspective, that I fully gave my parenting over to the Lord. Needless to say, we raised quite a few eyebrows when my husband and I decided that I should be a full-time stay-at-home mom when my oldest son turned 16. It was the best decision I ever made. He’s 20 now and has since moved out, working, living his own life, but we’re closer now than we’ve ever been. I missed a lot of things while my kids were little, but I’m so thankful that I’m able to be involved in their teenage years. I can only speak for my family, but honestly, the kids don’t remember me being as “bad” as I thought I was. They definitely have their highlight moments that stand out in their minds, but most of the things that I felt so horrible about, and dwelled on for years they barely remember, which I feel is God’s way of saying “you’re off the hook”, lol. Thanks for the blog, I really enjoy keeping up with you and your family.

  60. Thank you! My wild child didn’t show until she was 13. She is now sixteen. The last few years have been long and agonizing, but she is home now with my beautiful grandson. The last couple of months have been difficult trying to raise a daughter and mother. I was beginning to feel hopeless again over the little stuff. God has been whispering to me to pray and see and claim what He has done, what He is doing and what He will do. Your post echos the encouragement. It is exactly what I needed.

  61. Loved your blog this morning….thank-you for being very real!!! One of my boys has been acting up lately…it’s never at school…tantrums/melt downs seem to be at home and sometimes in public. I will continue to repeat myself and hold onto the fact that one day (hopefully soon) it will get better. I have an idea for a blog post for you…What do you do when grandparents overstep the boundary of disciplining their grandkids? My in-laws gave me a copy of the book “How to raise a good kid by Friday”, my brother had the nerve to tell me out of the blue after they had their first (like he’s an expert already????)that it’s so much easier to discipline from the beginning (all 3 of our kids are disciplined because my husband and I love them….part of being a parent- so I still don’t know why that comment was said, but I felt like it was directed at me and here recently one of my kids had apologized to one of the grandpa’s, but that grandpa continued to talk to him and didn’t let it go after the apology. So I’ve struggled with this for close to 8 years now. I know I can’t be the only one out there that has struggled with this so that’s why I wanted to share…I never comment on any of your posts (they are all good!)…just felt compelled to this morning.
    Thank-you again for being real! God Bless you!

  62. 2 of my Wild Children are almost 18 & 20! No one even believes me when I talk about their Wild Child days and how I would cry, they would cry, pitch fits, do things that embarrassed me, act out and run around like tornadoes!! There is hope! They are men, still maturing and works in progress, as am I. I am proud of who they have become, how polite, kind, mature, gentle they are and can still interact with the little kids & be GREAT Awana leaders in church! I’m much more relaxed in raising the other kids too with Gods help every day. I only wish I could go back and tell that Mom (me) that its all going to be ok if you just keep trusting Him and teaching those boys 24/7. Lol.

  63. I have had some challenges with some of my kids’ behaviors that I have linked back to food allergies/intolerances. For instance, when my older son (now 7) has gluten, he simply can’t concentrate and focus the way he can when he hasn’t consumed gluten. Sugar is also a problem for this young man. I encourage other moms to look at behavioral patterns and notice if there might be a link to a particular food. Of course, of my five children each also has issues with pride and being full of their own will and not wanting to listen, so it’s not all food related, but some is.

  64. Hi Courtney,

    This is my first time leaving a comment. I just wanted to tell you that this blog post really blessed me this morning. When my son was between the ages of 2 and 4, I went through something very similar that you described. I felt so miserable all the time and felt that I couldn’t go anywhere for fear that my son would hit someone or get into trouble. I can easily say it was the worst time of my life. I really can’t say what finally changed in him. It must of been God reaching out and helping us. His behavior got better with preschool (specifically the preschool he attended twice a week that was a Christian school). He learned about God, Jesus, and how to behave. I think he needed to be separated from me a bit and get discipline from other authority figures too. I can now happily report that his behavior dramatically improved by 5, and he is even more of an angel at 6. He talks about Jesus all the time, and it melts and warms my heart. He’s doing well in Kindergarten–a shining example to his peers. He has a huge heart. I guess I realized when writing this that I can only contribute his change and success to God. I am so thankful for His loving care for my family.

    Thank you again for your post Courtney. May God continue to bless you and your family. And thank you for blogging your walk with us.



    1. Rachel .. Your story sounds like mine . Braylen will be 3 in a week and 2 has been one rough year for us . I’m going to start him in pre-school 2 times a week ( half days ) at our church . Hoping this will help him interact with others / calm down a little. Renee

    2. Rachel,

      Thank you and Courtney for your honest stories. God is good all the time, and I have been searching for other moms who have been in the same position as me. I have a 4 year old, wild, enthusiastic, sweet boy, who sometimes has trouble keeping his hands to himself and melting down. It is so encouraging to know that we are not going through something alone, and that things at some point will start to get better. My son can be so sweet and loving and at other times so ugly. He started at a church preschool this fall, 4 days a week, and I think it is helping. He has had mostly good days. I am going to keep praying for him, and know that God has big plans for him. Some days are just HARD! Thank you ladies again 🙂

  65. Thanks so much for this encouraging post! My son will be 12 this year and he has always been way more ‘challenging’ than his younger siblings! However, God used this for good, as he led us to homeschool our children after my son’s difficult few years at school and we are so glad we have done it. Although we still have our ‘rocky’ times, people often now comment on what a lovely young man he is turning into, whereas in the past we had critical comments, even from other Christians. Thank you for your honesty and encouragement!

  66. Thanks for the post. I appreciate your thoughts on just hanging in there! Sometimes that is all we can do. Maturity makes a huge difference in behavior. I am an early childhood teacher and train parents in behavior strategies and I appreciate what was said in the comments. Moms all over are struggling with the issues of “wild” children. Thank God that He doesn’t give up on us…for I think we all have a bit of “wild” in us! I did want to address the issue of medication by sharing a bit of my story. I have a 22 year old son with autism. He is verbal and fairly high functioning. However, as a preschooler, he was very hard to deal with. He would tantrum for HOURS, screaming, kicking and hurting himself. He slept only 1-2 hours in a 24 hour cycle. He couldn’t verbalize what the issues were and so he struggled so much. By the time he was 4, I was at the end of my rope. (I had 3 other children too) My husband and I were so exhausted all of the time because he wasn’t sleeping (and we all know that life goes on, even when no one sleeps!). I know now why sleep deprivation is a form of torture. I would have done just about anything for 20 minutes of uninterrupted sleep! About that time our doctor recommended that we put him on an antidepressant, in the hopes that it would help him establish a regular sleep pattern. I prayed, worried, prayed some more until my Dad, in all his wisdom, said to me “does it make you a better parent when you are exhausted all the time?” I thought about that, and about my responsibility to my other children and made the decision to put my son on a very low dose of this med. It wasn’t easy, because it was a pride issue! I should be able to make my son obey and sleep, right? After the first week, my boy was sleeping all night! AND he was listening, playing, obeying and generally feeling better, because he was finally sleeping. He is still on that medication. We have tried to wean him off of it, but he then is awake all night. When he was 17, he became very aggressive and physical with me, yelling, hitting, crying, throwing things. (we replaced 3 windows and some drywall in that time).The doctor explained to me that the testosterone in his body was causing changes and because my son emotionally comes from a place of anxiety (Autism again!), a mild dose of anti-anxiety meds would help him to calm down, think rationally and be able to make better choices about his behavior. We tried it and it worked. My son is a wonderful young man, who works, loves legos and is a gentle giant with his neices and nephews. Without the medication, I am not sure where we would be. So, I guess, after all this I want to say: Sometimes people will want to force medication on your child, All I am saying is Don’t just dismiss it out of hand. Think it through. Talk to parents who have successfully used meds. If it isn’t for you, then that is fine. But it might work, and it might make a huge difference for your child.

    1. Cindy,

      I would love to know what kind of medication worked for your son, my 11 year old with autism struggles with anxiety but I have been unsure about putting him on the typical ADHD medicines that my older son was on- due to his history of siezures and just the way they affected my older son, they did not help. If you could share I would appreciate it. We have trouble making it to the dentist and just focusing to learn, it all seems anxiety based. Especially when he needs to do something new, he gets really worked up and goes back and forth with wanting to but not wanting too.

  67. I love your heart, Courtney. You have inspired me for the last 2 years and encouraged this weary mommy’s heart. God is using you in such a mighty way touching lives all over the world. I’m so blessed by your ministry blogging. I love that you are so willing to be transparent and admit you sont have it all together. This post hit home today with me. Its been a rough few weeks and i feel like I cant keep my head above water. But one thing I’ve learned is that when we give up trying to do it on our own and allow ourselves to be submerged in His grace and mercy, His love consumes us and His presence overtakes us and all our problems. My prayer this week is that I would drown in His presence. We can’t do this thing on our own but when crucify ourselves and lay our lives at his daily, He can do such incredible things! Thank you for being obedient , Courtney! I pray we cross paths one day! :).

  68. “Loving your kids on Purpose” by Danny Silk
    This book was just what I needed to hear. So many mother’s can relate to this season of motherhood. As a mother of 5, 4 boys and 1 girl, I know it well. Thank you for sharing!

  69. “I stamped myself a failure at this “boy mom thing” and let others – {strangers} – define my motherhood…based on our worst moments”

    I did that same thing, except I allowed family members to define my motherhood. I went against so many of my instincts out of fear that I wasn’t a good mother. Looking back, I wish I would have trusted what God was telling ME, rather than listen to what others were telling me.

    My son is 11 now and he is STILL strong-willed. But you’re right… as his personality has emerged over the years, I am seeing this amazing young man who isn’t afraid to do hard things, who can fix anything that is broken, and who has a gigantic heart. I can’t wait to see what God does in his life!

    Great post!

  70. Thank you. Not only is your writing helpful, but so are those who have posted that there an be a light at the end of the tunnel. I have 2 kids that are night and day. My older one (teen) is acting thoughtful, kind and considerate and my younger one (preteen) is completely opposite. I stii catch myself thinking its my fault, even though only one is being wild. What did I I do different? Where am I messing up? It’s the way they are. All I can do is pray, research and read. Why does one have to have these mental challenges? ADHD, depression, anxiety, anger? What will become of him? I really need to trust God in all this. Also, thank you to the person who posted about meds. All meds are not bad. Perhaps they are overperscribed, but after going through many consultations and tests, we are finding some meds that are helping with some of the issues. My husband has likened them to diabetic meds. Necessary to correct the insulin levels. Anti …. May be needed to correct brain levels of certain chemicals. It is just a lot harder to figure out what is needed.

  71. Thank you! Thank you!
    My incredible sweet and very supportive neighbor
    Showed me your blog and I honestly cried as
    I was reading it! Sometimes I get to busy with
    Our infant twins (breadtfeeding) that I just assume
    My 3 year old should behave like a big boy! He’s
    Still a baby too! I do cry often in the shower to relieve
    Stress over how difficult my beautiful “wild child” is.
    Thank you for reminding me that I am a good mommy!
    Thank you for inspiring me to read the bible more to my
    Thank you, really Thank you!
    My warmest regards,
    Gina Taylor

  72. Thank you so much for this post. I truly believe that many times Satan’s most effective tool is the ability to make us feel isolated and to convince us that our situation is unique. Time and time again, the Lord has given me the testimony of another christian to remind me that there is nothing new under the sun. It is as if the Holy spirit shines a light into these dark areas when we receive what I call “good old fashioned validation” and somehow just the knowledge that my struggle is common gives me the strength to stand up against the lies and move past. I just heard a lesson about how, as believers and part of the body we can put our shields (shields of faith) together and form a more solid defense. Thank you!

  73. Courtney and Brave Son, 🙂

    Thank you for writing this! I have forwarded the link and article to all I could think of in a position to be encouragers to mommas just starting out! I can sure relate! I’ve had seasons of “wild child” parenting and really withdrew because of fear of other’s opinions. I also withdrew because it was so much easier to parent gracefully in the privacy of our home without the added element of scrutiny. We have three children who I can now trust to behave (LOL) and be lights to others when they’re out and about and we’re starting the training all over again with our strong willed, darling just turned two year old. We now joke with the older kids that there were years that we ‘never’ left the house because they weren’t fit to be loose in public. LOL. Seriously, though, we missed out on some good things (like regular church attendance … with three little ones all under the age of 4, we had ‘church at home’ for a stretch of about 2 years). On the other hand, I do feel that we parents do try to do too much and be too many places and that it is O.K. to ‘batten down the hatches’ and stay close to home when seasons demanding ‘intensive training’ hit. Even though I see the fruit of our labor in our three oldest kids lives, I still cringe when the little one pulls a fit at the playground! I still struggle with the desire in my pride to be admired. Yuck. But, it also reaffirms my resolve to be THAT mom (and granny someday) who will smile encouragingly and whisper “you’re a GOOD momma” as I pass a ‘scene’ when I’m out and about. Let’s speak words of LIFE!

    Thanks for writing something that is so personal!

  74. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! I struggle with the same thing! Except my wild child is a 7 year old girl. When we are in public she is here and there and everywhere else but where I want her to be. I too have let Fear rule me rather than my faith. We read the bible too. I also found a Bible tool on how to use the bible to pull examples of proper behavior. We deal constantly with Lying, quarreling, and not listening with her. The Child Training Bible I found (its cards and little post it flags) and we read and pray together. YOU know it helps me too! 🙂

    Have a marvelous friday. Its always good to find out we aren’t alone in our struggles. God Bless!

  75. I appreciate your post. It applies to us mommas of older wild children too. When they are old enough to decide on their own to make mistakes, it is hard not to take part of the blame for what they do. I used to wonder if I could have done something different to help them make better choices. Maybe, but it was still their choice. It was hard to come to the realization that God would deal with me and my sin and deal with my children and their sin. I don’t wear their poor choices and they don’t wear mine.

    Thanks for the reminder of God’s grace with our wild children.

  76. Thank you so much for this encouragement ! My 6 year old spirited daughter tests me to the limit on a daily basis, and some days I feel like I wasn’t meant to be a mom. I like that you said that since I care for her, love on her, and teach her about Jesus, that I am a good mom. I feel so judged by friends who have 3 or 4 kids and they are all well behaved. I may only have one, but she is equal to 10! 🙂

  77. Thanks for sharing. I needed to read this today. I have a 2yr old wild child and a newborn.

  78. Praise God for this post. This post reaffirms God’s word in Jeremiah 29:11. I cried after reading this. I am a stay at home mom with four children. God touches my heart each day by giving me just what I need to continue on this journey and today it was your post. Even as I write, I cannot stop crying. I thank God that he is o’ ye faithul and his word endures forever. It makes a world of a difference to know that someone has shared your pain and still made it through. Bless you for being a blessing:)

    James 1:2-5

  79. I certainly do not ever recommend “buying in” totally to one parenting style or expert, but I do have to say our family (that includes a “wild child” boy as well) has been thoroughly blessed by the teachings of the Pearl Family. Some of their books include: To Train Up a Child, No Greater Joy (Volumes 1-3), and Created to Be His Helpmeet, as well as their free newsletter No Greater Joy.

    Many blessings…I truly enjoy your blog!

  80. Praise the Lord for this post and it came just at the right time for me. I actually saw this on Facebook from another friend of mine. I just was feeling a little down about my little boy and the way he behaves in public. I get the looks and so does he. I was just telling my husband that it makes me feel like a failure as a Mom. Your post was so encouraging I can’t even put into words what it meant to me. It also help me see myself in the part about pride and it is amazing how fear can make you behave. I am going to hold on to this works and read Proverbs. Thank you thank you for sharing your heart. From a Mom raising a wild child.

    God Bless You

  81. Thank you so much… I have tears in my eyes… I really, really needed thus today! Thank you so much for your wisdom and willingness to share 🙂

  82. Thank you so much for sharing your story and your heart. Your words were an encouragement to me today, as I have been struggling over raising my four boys and over doing it “right”. Truly, it is all of grace, yet how often I forget that truth and try instead to accomplish in my own power all that I wish for my sons.
    It’s harder still because I’m alone in my desire to see them serve the Lord because their father has not yet been saved. So, I carry the burden of trying to teach them and pray over/with them, show them Jesus’ love, all the while praying that the Lord will awaken my husband’s heart to his need of a Saviour.

    Sometimes, I just get tired of doing it all alone, but then the Lord comes along side me once again and reminds me that I am never alone. Always, there is a Saviour. Always, there is grace. Always, there is the cross and redemption and forgiveness, for me, for my husband, for my sons.

    God is in control and will do good in my life.

    I have just started reading “Give Them Grace” and have been encouraged and convicted along the way. I have also found so much encouragement and advice at “I Take Joy” and in Sally Clarkson’s books. She is one of the Titus 2 women in my life!

    Thank you again, Courtney, for sharing your heart and for sharing God’s truth for moms in the trenches.

  83. Thank you Courtney! I really needed that post! My wild child is the girl. She makes my boys seem so easy! Thank you for giving me a “long haul” perspective and hope of getting through someday. So many times I just feel like I’m beating my head against the wall. Thank you for the reminder that just because fruit doesn’t seem to be appearing and maturing at the moment that doesn’t make my work defective or in vain. God bless you. Cara

  84. I read this with tears in my eyes. Just last night I told my husband that I feel like I have failed as a mother. 🙁 and was wondering if it was too late to start making changes with my discipline to help redirect my children’s behavior and conduct. I have let too many trivial things discourage me now that I take the time to contemplate. God has given me 5 blessings and With God’s help and grace I will persevere. 🙂 Thank you for your blog it has helped me in so many ways!!!!

    1. I had a similar moment with my husband last exhaustion and despair, and just not knowing how to move forward. I am being so blessed reading comments from other mothers like you, Lanee! Thanks for sharing!

  85. Courtney,
    Thank you not only for sharing your personal story, but for opening up the dialogue with other wonderful moms who are feeling stressed and alone. How comforting to read all of the replies and know that we are not alone, and we can share our similar struggles. It is a blessing that we can share solutions as well. It is so important to become rooted and grounded in God’s word and what HE says about parenting, patience, and faith. I appreciate your openess and honesty. Water the wild children in good ground that is full of scripture, and we will raise up children who are wild for God! God bless all of the mothers everywhere. 🙂 I too am the mom of a “wild child” son whom I love dearly and is nothing like his older “quiet” brother. 🙂

  86. Thank you for your post…It is very encouraging! I too have a very strong willed child and reading this along with other posts has me realizing that I shouldn’t be parenting based on what others see me do, as if they are the best audience; rather it’s my children who are the best audience so I need to be guarded as to how I treat them not just in public. I have read “Shepherding a child’s heart” and it is really good. Blessings!

  87. Thank u for this post I have a very strong willed 3 that is all boy I worry some of rowdy rough behavior could hurt the new baby (due dec) nice to know that if I remain consists it will pay off one day

  88. Thank you!!! I needed this desperately, I am raisingtwo of them, a boy and a girl. What a blessing to read this!

  89. Oh Courtney, I’d love to have a cup of virtual coffee with you and chat. We could share our stories of motherhood in the trenches and the blessings that come about over time — praising God for His strength, mercy, and grace. I’m in such a similar place of seeing the blessing and starting to share more about the journey. It would be great to gird each other up as we lead those to invest intentionally in their motherhood and marriages for the glory of God. I’ll be praying for you!

  90. THANK YOU! I needed to read this. I have a strong willed 2 year old and a 4 month old. I have been praying for God to give me patients and wisdom. I know God is using her strong will to teach me patients and I pray that someday he uses her for great and mighty things. I can’t help but to hope that someday she will have a little girl just like her. I feel that I have learned so many lessons raising a strong willed child. Especially to turn to God in every situation. Even if it is saying a quick prayer asking for patients and wisdom. Lots of patients and wisdom. I have learned to not worry so much about what others think and to help and encourage other young mothers who also have strong willed children. I don’t think I could have learned that lesson any other way. There have been times when my daughter is acting out in public that another (older) woman will say something like, “I remember those days” and I just feel like there is an instant bond. Like she also had a strong willed child and honestly does know what it is like. Thankfully The Lord never gives us more than we can handle and I’m thankful for all the lessons I have learned and all the lessons I still have to learn.

  91. Thanks again Courtney! Your honesty is appreciated!! I pinned this to share, and so I can remember when needed that I’m not alone. Please, thank your son for me too 🙂

  92. Thank you Courtney! You are such a blessing. I really can’t thank you or express to you what an inspiration you are. Every parent needs to read this….prayers for all parents. You are so right it is a moment by moment, child by child, prayer by prayer, life long learning process. Love you! Praise God!

  93. I loved Dr. dobsons book, Bringing up Boys. It helped me to recognize some behaviors as just normal boy stuff. As a girl, normal boy stuff can thoroughly frustrate me and boggle my mind. But to understand which is normal to their boyhood, I was able to focus more on the truly unacceptable behaviors. I also loved Tim Kimmel’s Grace Based Parenting. It’s easy as Christians to get caught up in demanding perfection from our kids. They’re sinners just like we are and the insights in this book helped me to quit looking for perfection and understand that i need to quite parenting based on what others would think of me. My wild child is 17. He can still be too rough and insensitive. Yet as I type he’s in the midst of a 30 hr famine to raise money and awareness for hunger. Yesterday as he collected a donation from an older widow he asked if there was anything she needed done. He raked her yard and will be going back to clean her eaves. Keep at it moms, never give up cause the reward is so worth it!

  94. This is a great post! As a mom of grown sons, I see so many young mom’s with unrealistic expectations of their little boys in regard to behavior. I taught at a co-op last year and felt so sad for the mom’s who were devastated their 5 year old’s perfectly normal behavior. They felt embarrassed over behaviors I accepted as perfectly normal (which really was pride on their part). Their reaction was often as if the next stop for their child was a life of violent crime!

    There are mom’s who find the risk taking their son’s engage in as signs of rebellion. You may have told them hundreds of times not to climb on top of the playground equipment. Boys are different. There are numerous studies that show the school setting – which rewards sitting still and listening attentively – is detrimental to the development of masculine character in boys. Teachers and many mom’s try to turn their little boys into little girls out of a natural desire to rear their sons with integrity.

    I love all the books by James Dobson of course – but my favorite book for mom’s of boys is *Raising Real Men* by Hal and Melanie Young. As parents of 5 boys – they know their subject well. Melanie writes from a mom’s mystified perspective and offers practice advice for working with the natural inclination of your sons to develop their particular masculine gifts rather than trying to make little girls out of them.

  95. Thanks for the encouragement! I have a wild girl who just turned six. Sometimes it feels like all of the lecturing and discipline is going nowhere. I needed the reminder to keep going.

  96. 🙂 Thank You for sharing your hardship Courtney, I pray as I begin to parent, I cling to the Word of God and his truth shared by women like you and your friends. God Bless Your family and you.

  97. I am so amazed at God’s perfect timing, I so needed this as my son had a meltdown moment last night as I was reading this and was encouraged to “act like the adult” hee hee….As long as we walk with our king daily and seek His perfect word in action for our children, we will not fail them. In my devotions this morning I re-read the first chapter of Proverbs-1 1-7, “for attaining wisdom and discipline….for giving prudence to the simple and knowledge and discretion to the young”….WOW- do they need that, so do I!! I have a son with autism who is 11 and another who is diagnosed with a mirad of things, but for sure is strong willed- we actually started homeschooling him the end of last year due to his defiant and outlandish behaviors, we had seen enough teachers crying, specialists puzzled, daycares quite, school officers sitting on him, oh my, it pains me to relive! But now he is an A student, doing online school-right up his alley!! We are working on the behaviors but they are much improved!! I believe if we pour Proverbs into our son’s we will definetely be planting the seeds they need DESPERATELY!!!! Thanks for sharing your brokeness everyone!! In Christ ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE!!

  98. Thank you so much for sharing your heart!! I have 3 daughters, ages 4, 3 and 6 wks. It has been a difficult transition since the baby was born. I worry way to much about how my girls behave rather than about what’s going on in their hearts. God is definitely humbling me. Thank you for being “real” and reminding us that we’re in this for the long haul. We have them for 18+ years and I need to remember that. My girls are a blessing and God is growing us together. Blessings to you!!

  99. Wow Courtney, you brought me to tears. I have been remembering myself of years gone by and how I wished I could have relaxed more and breathed through those rough times and not gotten so crazy. My daughter is such a wonderful 12 yr old and I am so very proud of the girl she has turned into. I am not proud of the way I reacted to fear and wanting her to act differently at such early years. Thank you for letting me know I am not the only mom out here that has struggled with this. Thanks for your openness. You have been a blessing to me so many times. May God bless you greatly as you are using your gifts to help other moms like me.

  100. Courtney –

    I want to say thank you SO MUCH for this article! It was so incredibly encouraging! I could have written the first part of it myself. Our eldest is exactly what you describe (now age 6). There have been moments (months, years) that have been SO discouraging. When I ended every day near tears. When it seemed as if it was hopeless and that I might as well give up now. I don’t think our child has had one teacher who has NOT pulled me aside and told me that she was having trouble with him – one of whom walked up to me and asked if she could loan me a parenting book. (That was an especially low point.) Key word: Despair.

    Now, at age almost-7, we are finally starting to see that “glimmer of hope.” I never thought it would come. And I’m so thankful to see another mom – you! – giving me hope for the journey.

    A couple of key points:

    – Parenting books do us a HUGE disservice by telling us that our children should be perfect at every stage of the journey. While we don’t want to have ill-behaved children, there will always be issues to work on, and the expectation of perfection leads to despair.

    – Encouragement means SO MUCH to struggling young moms. I have had so many women tell me, in directly or through inference, that they thought I was doing a really rotten job. That is so unhelpful, and just contributes to the depression, the tears, the despair. But I too had a WONDERFUL Titus 2 woman in my life who told me to keep going, to keep breathing, to keep praying, and that I was doing a good job and that there would be good fruit at the end. Women like this are an untold blessing – I want to be one of those in the future, and not a disapproving tongue-clucker. 🙂

    Anyhow, THANK YOU!!!

  101. This is such an encouragement to me, Courtney! I, too, have a wild child and I have also been publicly humiliated many times by his behavior and the little “chats” that other parents or Sunday school teachers (and I’m the pastor’s wife!!) sometimes feel the need to have with me. I have experienced the many tears from feeling total failure and frustration. I am constantly reading more Christian parenting books.

    It’s a journey… and I KNOW that God has amazing things planned for this boy. He has such a tender heart, his impulsiveness and emotions just often get the best of him right now and we have lots more teaching and training to do.

    Thank you so much for sharing your story!!

  102. Hi there… not sure that my comment will actually be read since it’s so far down the list. and you’re right, there is such a need for this conversation. Until you’ve lived through this kind of child, you have no idea. For me, i allowed the disapproving/judgemental eyes of my family and friends make me discipline in a way that was counterproductive. Once I understood that, it made a huge difference. The other part was realizing that my son’s defiance and “battle of the wills” really wasn’t such a battle of the wills. Because his anxiety’s manifested themselves in a battle, I had a hard time recognizing them. I know say, my son has no flight or fight response… there’s no flight, he’s all fight. My 3rd piece to this puzzle REALLY was “giving him to God”. In those moments when I felt at my wits end and about to lose it, I say the prayer. Dear Lord, he is Your Son. I give him completely to you and please give me the patience and wisdom to do what is right”. I have to tell you everytime I’ve done this, it is truly amazing!!!!

    Do not let insecurites guide you! THANK YOU!!!!

  103. Hi, I’m Katie, and I have a wild child! I never thought I would be the one saying those words. For so many years I held to the belief that a child’s behavior was proof of a parent’s neglect of discipline. My first child only served to cement that belief because, obviously, we must be great parents to have such a wonderfully obedient, calm, and easy-going child! Right? HA!! And, oh, how the Lord has brought me humility through my second son. I have become MUCH less judgmental since I became *that* mother with a child screaming at the top of his lungs and trying to throw himself out of my arms in aisle 9 when I wouldn’t let him run the aisles and grab things off the shelves. I’m the mother with the child who won’t go to bed most nights without a tantrum and throwing himself out of bed 85 times (unless Daddy is home of course. 😛 ). BUT – The child who frowns at me and does what I’ve told him not to do anyway, no matter the discipline he knows he will receive, has taught me that parenting is not a one-size-fits-all formula that mothers and fathers need only apply properly to obtain perfectly obedient, well-behaved children!

    Thank you so much, Courtney for sharing your heart on this subject. Even though I have learned much through this little boy the Lord has entrusted to us, I find myself feeling very much alone a lot of times. This post spoke to my heart at just the right time!

  104. Good post, Courtney. Your transparency is what makes you so endearing. 🙂 My favorite parenting books and materials have been from Michael and Debi Pearl from They’ve helped us immensely.

  105. Every one of us are in different places in our lives and circumstances as mothers! Thank you SO much for your encouraging words! I look for new post’s daily from you and Sally Clarkson as my encouragement in parenting, other than the Word of God!! I have a 12 yr old daughter who is an angel in Heaven, and a 6 yr old daughter who I get to wrap my arms around everyday! I am struggling so much as a parent it is unbelievable. I’m not sure my daughter is considered a “wild child”, but she definitley is hard headed! I work outside the home and my daughter attends public school. We do not even have a home church. I know, if this post is even read at all, that many of you homeschooling mothers of multiple children may not identify with me at all, but simply as another mother who needs prayer….please include me!! I will be including you all in mine! Thank you, and God Bless! 🙂

  106. Courtney,
    What a beautiful blog! Reading that we all have some of the same struggles in parenting is so refreshing.
    You have been an encouragement.
    Blessings from Canada 🙂

  107. Oh Courtney, this was a great post! As a mom of 3 of those kind of boys I have cried and struggled SO much (you know!) I definitely started to see a change around age 9-10. An older mom at church told me that boys start to calm down around age 8 (she raised 4 of them) and she was right. HOWEVER, I do want to “warn” you that around age 11 we also noticed a change, it’s called hormones. Right now at 11-1/2 and almost 13, we are experiencing some very difficult things as parents with our boys, it’s a much more challenging age than I expected. I really think it is due to hormonal changes and their struggle to control themselves. It’s almost like they have PMS. Of course, we have explained the changes in their bodies, etc. and when they get REALLY angry or emotional (seriously emotional) we gently try and remind them that their bodies are changing. I’ve been told (and I am praying that it’s true) that boys tend to get over some of this around age 14 or so. I just wanted to share that because as a mom of 3 boys, who struggled SO much when they were little and was VERY relieved to see good things by age 10, this 11 year old/hormonal thing caught me off guard. Thankfully, I’ve been through so much as a mom that I handled it great (prayed, sought council from older moms and didn’t judge myself as a mom).

  108. Wow, this was fantastic! I had a wild child who is now 21. We were just talking tonight on the phone and laughing about what a hyper and crazy kid he was. I had a lot of the same feelings you described when my children were younger. However, my perspective is now so much different since they are grown and on their own. Stephen, my wild one, is now a responsible, loving, and very wise young man. He and I are very good adult friends now. All those difficult years have paid off, and I am now reaping some awesome rewards from all I sowed into their lives growing up.

    I want to say thank you for the honesty and wisdom you share regularly on your blog. I have really enjoyed this as well as your videos. Keep it up! God bless!

  109. Oh, Courtney. Your post has restored my hope. I have a rowdy, high-energy, outspoken 5yo beautiful boy who has tested me to no end this past week. I have cried many tears of frustration and failure. I will keep pressing in and pointing him in the right direction. God trusted me with my precious son, and His grace will see me through. Thank you.

  110. I also had (have really) a very strong willed child. He used to give us fits over his wild behavior! It’s our own fault really – we named him Noah after all… after one of THE most stubborn men in the Bible! Think about it – he built that ark anyway even with all the taunting for like, 100 years! Anyway, our son was a true handful and it took us several years to realize the biggest trigger for him was boundaries. Yep! RULES! He loved ’em! It was so helpful for him when we made sure he had structure around him. A wild crazy VBS or Sunday School class would NOT work for him. He has grown into the sweetest 16 year old and is loved by everyone he meets. This past February I got to go with him to New York through Forward Edge and our church to help with the rebuilding happening there after Hurricane Sandy. I was blessed to watch him growing and using his “stubborness” to stick with things. He is growing daily in self-control, love, and his love for the Lord. Ladies, mommas and daddies – there IS hope! He now helps lead in the preschool classes at church, helps with VBS, and has just begun helping lead worship with his youth group. Of course I am taking a minute here to brag on him a bit – but not because of me. God has brought this kids out of some really dark, trying times (and that’s just me, I’m talkin’ about!) and is using him for His glory! Stick with it! You will be blessed as I’ve been for doing the hard stuff day in and day out. I KNOW how exhausting it can be! (I have 5 kiddos and homeschool – believer me I live it!) I’m praying for you all to be blessing with the light at the end of the tunnel and the ability to just breathe each day. God gave you the exact child he wanted you to have because He has a purpose and a plan for each of you! God bless!

  111. Thank you for this post. My little 4-year-old boy sounds a lot like your son. My son is the textbook definition of a strongwilled child (with some hyperactiveness and attention problems mixed in). We are in that difficult stage now, where it seems like everyone we know is either annoyed with him or us (or both!) because of his behavior. I know it will get better as he gets older (and I a mature in my parenting) but sometimes it is so hard. I’ve shed many tears wondering what I’m doing wrong and why I’m not a good enough mother for him. I know this is a lie from Satan, just meant to discourage me. I’m praying for patience and endurance!
    Thank you for the encouragement!

  112. Thank you for your encouragement. I was feeling like a failure as a mum today because my 2 year old wasn’t acting like a responsible, loving adult! ha! Reading your post truly brought tears to my eyes and gave me fresh hope to continue to be consistent in discipline and love and prayer.

  113. Thank you for your transparency and encouragement! I can so easily identify with what you said about the judgmental glances of others and reacting from a place of fear. I have always been very compliant and obedient so to raise a child who willfully disobeys me has been what I call a “polishing experience”. I have discovered things about myself that I don’t like very much. Things like a quick temper and anger and fear. Thank you for the reminder that they are not adults and that this is a work in progress…as am I.

  114. I am so glad you wrote this! I only came across it because a friend of mine shared Having Babies in Opposite World on her facebook wall. I read that article and scrolled down to this one. I was in tears reading this because lately I have felt like the worst mother. I have a fourteen month old who is very independent and a rough and tumble little boy. My husband and I are just now learning what discipline is all about. My little one thinks no is the funniest word invented and he loves to be physically aggressive with hitting, kicking, pinching, etc. I am struggling to find the balance between loving discipline and being stern enough that he takes me seriously. Reading this article brought a fresh sense of perspective and for the first time in a while, I have a glimmer of hope that maybe I’m a good mom after all.

  115. We have 8 children ages 21 down to 14 months (4 boys 4 girls) and I still feel like a rooky sometimes. The BEST parenting books I’ve ever read are Shepherding a Childs Heart, The Heart of Anger and Age of Opportunity (for teens). All three books are biblically based and they give great advice for practical application (the hardest thing to do sometimes). My goal is to teach my children to love God first, serve others and take resposibility for ALL the choices they make, no matter what their circumstances are. I’m also trusting the Lord for alot of grace and mercy for all that I do wrong! Thanks for the post!! Such an encouragment! God Bless <

  116. Thank you so much for sharing this. I am a first time mom with a 13 month old. She is already so strong willed and “wild”. Here lately I have been discouraged. She hits and throws fits. I already worry about how I will deal with this as she gets older. The other day after a fit a just sat there holding her and crying and praying for the Lord to help me and to shape her. Reading this blog brought tears to my eyes and encouragement to my heart! God is so good to send us uplifting words at exactly the time we need them! Thank you again!

  117. I love this. I needed this today. I went searching for answers on Google and this post popped up. I’m so excited to have found the answers; which aren’t really “the” answers but EXACTLY what I needed to hear/read, which is better. Thank you so much! You have a new follower and I’m so excited!

  118. Love the comment on respecting our sons! I saw this modeled to me when my first son was a baby. My friends 10 year old popped off to his mom in front of all of us, and she quietly got up, pulled him into another room and dealt with it. Never said a word to us, there was no scene or raised voices. She respectfully handled it in a way that did not embarrass him or the rest of us sitting there! Guess what? That 10 year old is now a Naval Academy graduate, such a responsible godly young man and a joy to his parents! I’ll never forget her parenting example!

  119. Thanks for this post and this blog. I do look at the results instead of my efforts and FREAK OUT! I have 2 children with whom I worked very long and hard and have consistent results to boost me along and I have 2 children with whom I am working very long and hard and you would think I’ve been on vacation for most of their lives! They are smart, caring, fun and TROUBLE! There are things I have taught them hundreds of times and they have not learned them…but probably when I hit lesson 1000, it will click. 🙂

  120. I am not sure how I stumbled upon this blog, but it pierced me to the heart, thank you so much for writing!
    My wild child is eight years. She is spunky and sassy and has an attitude and soooooo very independent. And she craves my approval and attention. I have a spot in my closet where I can scream and cry before the Lord, because sometimes my failures as a mother are beyond what I can even comprehend.
    Again, thank you for writing this blog. God has been showing me that I am a good mom. And I don’t have to walk around with this massive baggage of guilt over my head all the time.

  121. My wild child is now 29 and although he’s not walking the path I’d like to see him on, I know without a doubt that he’s on the path God put him on for right now, learning the things he needs to know for the future God has planned for him. And I have faith He will bring him through to where he belongs, in God’s time. I pray for him often and when we are together, I ask him and his GF what I can pray about for them. And I listen. And I pray. And I keep believing.

  122. Bless you! What a loving and patient Mom your son has! I am 62 years old and my husband and I have 6 adult children. They each offered us their own challenges ( and blessings!). Now we have 14 grandchildren to enjoy, with more on the way! Our 2 youngest boys were adopted and have had a variety of struggles. My husband and I began learning about “children from hard places” from Dr Karyn Purvis and the ministry Empowered to Connect. We’re hoping we can help other adoptive and foster parents who are struggling with the issues we had to deal with. So much of what we learned can apply to all children and I heartily recommend it! The best book I’ve read in my training to teach the parenting classes is “The Whole Brain Child”. Dr. Daniel Siegel has really opened our eyes to understand brain development- something you have seen play out in your son’s maturing-and his book offers great ways to help children understand and control their own behavior too. I am giving this book to all my children and struggling parents that we are working with. I think you’ll appreciate its wisdom and insight! Thanks for your writing- you are a beautiful encourager!

  123. Courtney,
    Someone forwarded me this post back in the Spring, and it was such an encouragement with my son. I started following your blog then. Over the summer, I had forgotten and become frustrated, again ( mostly with myself). God brought me back here this morning after reading your entry about your book in bookstores today (yay, God!). Thank you for being an obedient daughter of the King! You are a blessing to so many!

  124. I just typed into google “raising wild boys blog” and this post popped up. I actually read your blog but I missed this post. This post has encouraged me a lot today. I struggle so so so much with my 22 month old son. He is squished between two sisters (3 years and 7 months) and it is so hard not to compare him to them because they are so so easy compared to him. He is just like you wrote-aggressive, wild, out of control at times. He kicks and throws stuff and yells (doesn’t talk, but yells!). He seems to me that he is an “unhappy” kid. He cries all the time about everything. Anyway, your family is one of the ones I look at and think “I’m sure her son never acted like this”! Isn’t that funny? I’m so thankful you wrote this post because it has given me hope for my little guy. Thank you so much for sharing your heart.

  125. Hi,
    I have just recently started reading your blog and watching your videos which have encouraged me so much in all parts of my life, it even got me back into reading my bible every single day which I hadn’t done in several weeks (horrible I know) but, I just want to share some things with you and see if this is sort of what you have gone through with your children.
    I have a 5 year old son, a 3 year old daughter, a 1 year old daughter, and another son on the way due in 7 weeks. I homeschool my son and the 3 year old gets to do “school” with us. I have always wanted to be a mommy and for a while I worked outside the home but thankfully the Lord showed us that we can live on one income and I can stay with and homeschool our children so that’s what I do. But, I have since I have been reading your blog and watching your videos I’ve been trying to be a better wife, mother, and Christian and have been doing so much more to try and live for Christ and teaching my children the same, but it feels like at the same time I’m being tested and it’s so hard right now not to just get angry and be a harsh mommy, my 3 year old has started to be extremely disobedient with me (not my husband just me) she is now fighting with me trying to hit and bite (which is not at all like her precious self), she kicks and screams, tells me “you better stop it” and “you hush your mouth” when I try putting her in time out. We do use spankings as well for acts of rebellion and when I do that it’s only worse. I try so hard to be gentle with her but I do yell, and after I do I feel awful but I make that mistake and I yell. I am so stressed out and don’t know what to do in the situation sometimes she gets herself so worked up it’s almost like she’s not even herself (if that makes any sense) but as soon as my husband gets home it’s like you hit a switch on her and she does everything he says right when he says it, no talking back, no yelling, if he tells her to go to time out she does it with no fuss he doesn’t have to stand right with her she doesn’t fight it, it’s only with me so I know she knows what she’s doing and how to control her behavior. I just need help some advice. Sorry for my long rant but could you please respond with some advice if you have any to give? Thank you so much!

  126. Hey,
    My name is Kim, I’m 25, married and I have a 5 year old daughter and a 4 year old daughter. Everyday seems like a hassle. By the end of everyday I feel mentally exhausted. My 5 year old is a pretty good girl she has her times like anyone and she can be very disrespectful. My 4 year old I have more trouble with, she never listens, she never stops talking, (especially in time out), and just acts out all the time. They both are becoming very disrespectful and “wild”. I spank them and put them in time out and its like nothing. I say trying to talk to my 3 year old is like talking to a rock!! I think I repeat the exact same things everyday constantly. It’s hard to talk on the phone, have a conversation with my husband, anything anymore. I have gotten to the point of yelling, crying, and just giving up. I feel like I am failing my children, my self, and most of all God. I want to be a good mother and teach my children well but my wrong actions are def. not helping any. My husband works a lot and when he’s home we have both not done the jobs we need by instead of getting up and taking care of a situation in a good way we have sit on the couch and yelled at our girls to stop fighting, running, etc. I pray about the situation everyday but I can’t leave it all up to God because I am the parent and it is my responsibility to do the job. I need help before I pull my hair out!! Advice is very much needed!!

  127. Courtney,
    I loved your blog! You are right on! I too have a wild child who is now 27. We’ve been on quite the journey and I too have learned that godly parenting looks much different than what I thought. My daughter is an artist through and through and very sensitive. I struggled to understand her and parent her well for many years. Finally, I caught on to how God wanted me to change as her mom. We’ve been on quite a journey and have a great relationship now. She’s even in grad school!

  128. I have raised a wild child, and it is STILL two steps forward and one step back! I see fruit, but he can still be a stubborn one. It is what causes us as moms to fall on our knees, humbling us, and helps us to realize that much of this parenting is so out of our hands, and a work that god has to do in their hearts. It’s a hard road! You can take the hard road…or you can take the hard road with leaning on God!

  129. Hi,

    Thank you so much for posting this. It is so good to hear the honest truth from another godly Mom who has a difficult child. My oldest is a girl, and is such a handful. She is brilliant and skilled, but most people don’t notice that because she is surly and aggressive. I’ve had so many disappointing moments so far, but she’s 5 now, and I’m starting to see some progress! My third is just a baby, and he’s a boy, so I’ve had so many people say that I’m going to have trouble because my oldest 2 were girls. My shocked reaction is always “have you met my oldest?” She seems to be able to keep up with the boys pretty well!

    Thank you for your honesty about the parenting mistakes and pride that go along with having a challenging child. There are so many things I wish I hadn’t done, or tried, to improve her behavior. I’ve had a hard time finding good advice. So often when my husband or I ask for advice, the answer is just to spank her more often. . . . .but that doesn’t work! She doesn’t seem to change her behavior to avoid a spanking. So, we’ve taken a gentler approach lately, and it seems to be working.

    The most important thing seems to be controlling MY temper. . . . they are what they see, right?

    Well, thanks again.

  130. I have a wild child too. It’s super hard because u can see it in their eyes sometimes that they want to be good but they can’t overcome the temptation to be bad. My son often says that his brain won’t let him be good sometimes. It’s hard for me to discipline when I can see in his expression and the way he says sorry that he didn’t mean to do something and he did. In life, even if u don’t mean to do stuff and u do you will still get punished so I run my house like u are treated in life. The saying in our house is ” if u do the crime u do the time”. This isn’t to say that there aren’t days where he’s completely bad on purpose all day but with wild children and kids with ADHD, like my child is, every situation has to be evaluated and I can’t have a “go to” punishment. Keep at it because the days that they do show off how u raised them makes me feel like the proudest mom in the world.

  131. I,too, have a wild child! However, in public, at church, at co-op, literally everywhere else, he is an angel. Everyone praises him! But at home, he becomes the wild one! I imagine he is competing with two older brothers and a younger sister. He is about to turn 9, and I have always followed the same principle you spoke of… Keep pressing on, keep loving him, praying for him, etc. Any other suggestions for my little closet wild child?

  132. I needed this post today. My son was adopted at 5, after spending two years being moved from foster home to foster home. He is now about to turn 15. It has been, and continues to be, a tough journey. I feel like a failure almost every day. Then I remember that God placed this child with me on purpose. I am not a failure. I am a good parent to a child that has been hurt deeply. My child doesn’t have a relationship with Christ yet. My child can’t accept my love. My child can’t trust me. He isn’t capable of doing these things, yet. But I continue to love and parent him, praying that one day he will trust me, love me, and trust and love God. I will not give up, just like God doesn’t give up on me.

  133. I too had one of these…he is now 34, been in the military, a husband, father of three, a police officer and a good citizen. He is now raising his children in the way they should go. My advice is…don’t be so hard on yourself…do the next thing…each day…do the next thing. It is like labor…when you miss the technique you will get another chance. I wish I had spent more time praying outloud during the bouts. More time asking the Holy Spirit to be in the room. I wish I had been a stronger believer and that my faith had also been stronger. Do not give up…do not give up.

  134. Hi,
    ** Disclaimer: yes I was a teacher but I only taught Kindergarten grammar. I apologize for mine!!

    I am a new mom of a 14 month old. We have only gone through one month where he was already hitting me, my husband and our dog (who is a good sport about it 🙂 ) . However, even the smallest hint of aggression started my fear and worrying about having a challenging child. My fear is amplified by the fact that I feel like I have more pressure on me to have well behaved children because I was a pre-school, kindergarten and first grade teacher for many years before I became a stay at home mom. My classroom always had very clear rules, consequences and rewards. I was as consistent as I could possibly be every day of the year. I even had one of those “kids” in first grade (which I usually had at least 2-3 in every class I had) get up and put himself in time out the last few weeks of school every time he did something against the rules, due to consistency.

    HOWEVER, I am learning very quickly that being a Mom and a parent is COMPLETELY different than being a teacher. I had some idea this would be true. I used to have parents ask me what they could do at home to help their challenging children (the name I gave to those kids who fit the bill in my classes) in parent/teacher conferences. I was in my early 20’s, not married and not a Mom. I would say “well I can tell you what seems to help in class (keep in mind it doesn’t fix the problem completely) but I have no idea what to do as a parent, however you are welcome to try some of the things we do at home.” Typically, issues would still arrive at home even if they improved at school. I would also reassure them that it is so much easier (if done consistently) at school because we, as teachers, have a huge support system including (principles, guidance counselors, other teachers, volunteers, peers, nurse, school staff, bus drivers, school psychiatrists, tutors ect…) who are always there to help when I needed them. This support staff of people is greatly diminished and non-existent for most families (even if you have wonderful grandparents near by). So I would tell them to not expect such dramatic changes at home. Sometimes this was due to the fact that their home life (not always) was the cause of the behavior to begin with. Things as simple as the child copying an older siblings behavior or as complicated as drug use, multiple fathers in the home, or severe illness of a loved one. A school environment is created with extra attention to details to be a self contained, safe, supported learning environment. The teachers, they do care deeply (most do) about their students, however, they are not as emotionally involved with each child as a parent is. It isn’t the same feeling. Therefore, for the most part they are able to handle many challenging behavior situations every day from a more emotionally removed position. This allows them to remember that a child, not matter how “out of control” they are now, they will not always be this way, in fact they probably won’t be that way every second of the rest of the day. This allowed me to keep in mind my students potential for wonderful things despite their behavior. Teacher’s (for the most part) keep their emotions out of it!

    So, when I started getting a hint of aggressive behavior in my mostly sweet little guy I had to give myself that same talk. Don’t be afraid to let some things go, a lovely thing called grace, (remember your support staff isn’t here and lean on God’s word as your support instead!), however, if I see the behavior or it is done to me don’t ignore it, especially if it is hurting themselves or others. One thing that even at a young age my son picks up on is calm consistency (a hard one!!) and talking to him seriously, quietly and quickly after as soon as possible after it happens. This is one thing a made myself do in my Kindergarten class and it did wonders! We would review the entire scene of the crime by me asking what they remembered happening, how they felt and what they chose to do as a result of how they felt. Then we would talk calmly about what ways they could do things differently the next time they felt that way or how maybe I could help (or another adult could help) so that they choose better next time. I always made sure they knew I believed the had a ability to make better choices, not be perfect, but make better choices with their emotions. I would also have to give a good example of this every day and if I slipped and raised my voice (it must have been a rainy week) then I would make sure to apologize and ask them for forgiveness! I would have to leave my “leadership” pride at the door.

    In teacher college we did a lot of roll play in one class I took with possible scenarios that could arise with behavior issues with students or even parents so I often use this technique (in my head of course 🙂 ) at home quickly before I speak to him. Roll playing my questions to get a meaningful desired response, appropriate for his age. Remember don’t rush and survey the situation (except to remove danger) take a step back before you speak and speak on his level (literally get down a eye level). I like to explain what I want him to do simply “look at my eyes (repeat as many times as necessary, he has a one year old attention) please”…”thank you”…..”hitting mama hurts mama, do not hit”. Then I explain what will happen if he does that again and every time it happens “if you _____ then ______ (time out, privilege taken away ect…”. Well this worked wonders for older kids, I found while babysitting and teaching 4-6 year olds in the past this works wonderfully!!

    Well, I found quickly that young toddlers do not understand what a consequence is or why it is a bad thing to happen to them to begin with, and his little eyes were asking “what does hurt mean ?”. So, I called my Mom!! She was a 1-4 year old nursery school teacher for 25 years. However, she surprised me. I expected a detailed behavior consequence plan designed for a 1 year old, but she said “well I remember when you or your brother used to do that just saying no and then kissing your hands or feet (whatever was doing the hitting) that usually worked.” So, I thought, all I have to do is love him (not approve of the behavior but love him anyways). Well I was skeptical. Sure enough though I started this with my one year old and in, I’m not kidding, a day he stopped after a month of time outs, screaming and kicking all he wanted was for me to love him when he was bad. The other reason could be that he didn’t get the reaction he had before. Either way it worked!

    Of course we haven’t hit the infamous 2 year old age or 5 year old age ( I babysat a 5 year old once who would consistently lock me and his older brother out of the house and pee all over the families bathroom walls) . Yes I am well aware that 5 is also challenging and 13 and 16 and 21 or so I have heard. Anyways, one method that may work, at least with a young toddler (possibly an older child who is too used to negative, consistent consequences and isn’t improving in a year or so) is to just show them love when they are bad and show (by example) them how they are expected to behave instead. Of course, it may not work in a day and even if it works for a little while I have to remind myself that we all have our bad days more often than we would like. Just keep loving and showing love as Jesus did for us. After all isn’t that what our Father, Son and Holy spirit does for us consistently all our lives not matter our age?

    ** A note on ADHD and meds from this teacher’s perspective. I only had one student (a 6 year old girl) ONE out of all the years I taught that I felt would benefit from meds. She was super smart and had a rough home life. However, her sister was very docile and calm despite this fact, she was in my class the year before her younger, lively sister. This sweet girl would consistently tell me in a frustrated tone, things like “I can’t think…I can’t stop moving….i’m trying so hard to listen but I keep forgetting what you said….”. I could see in her actions it was literally as if her little mind was running on an energizer battery non-stop all day. Even if we were outside playing she would behave this way no matter what activities I gave her to do, or helper jobs, or even have her try to do something she said she loved like paint or sing. It was clear that her brain could not stop and focus long enough for just about anything and she was well aware of it. Anyways, she literally thanked her teachers for helping her after her family decided to get her meds and she succeeded the following years because of it.

    However, I have had many “challenging” kids who were just busy, thought a lot, wanted to be outside instead, had other things they were thinking about at home, had been up all night watching TV or just weren’t interested in what we were learning or in learning in general. These kids, in my professional opinion, could easily be diagnosed with ADHD by some doctors and teacher as a quick fix but were in my opinion actually just being themselves and needed to learn about the value their education could bring to their little lives. For example, I had a first grade boy who, it was suggested by his parent to me that he may have ADHD (he would put paper clips from my desk into the light switch and things up his nose that would get stuck, for example). However, I found that these behaviors would only happen during writing time. So, we talked about what he loved to do first. He loves skateboarding (luckily i grew up in a surfing, snowboarding guitar playing family) and asked if he knew Tony Hawk. YES! He lit up, well I asked if he though Tony Hawk had to learn to write. He said , “NO WAY.” I said, “well you may be surprised by he does know how to write, in fact he wrote a book AND he is a grown up and has to write grocery lists and checks and other grown up stuff too. “Oh” said the boy. He wrote every day from then on. No more acting out or things up his nose and no ADHD it turned out. Most of the kids I taught were this way to some degree during the school day or year. THEY ARE ONLY 6 years old for goodness sake!

  135. When I read this the first time (last year) I sent it to my sister. Today I pulled it back up to read it to myself. Wild child? Try obnoxious and out of control. I have concluded that I have no idea what I’m doing and I am not sure where to go from here. My youngest was born screaming and he hasn’t stopped since. It was clear from day one that we were in for a wild ride, and he has proved that to be true. Oh – he can be so funny and cute….and then he can turn the entire house upside down with his temper. It helped to read that this is second-by-second, minute-by-minute…because I can’t see beyond that at this point. If I can get through THIS minute without falling apart, I’ll be okay. He’ll be okay. And if he takes a nap….we might just make it through to bedtime.

  136. Nice blog right here! Also your web site so
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  137. Little boys are a handful and it does start turning around close to their teens. One of my four boys was a handful throughout his teens also. They turn into these beautiful young men that want you to be proud of them. Want to be seen as someone you can depend on and be considered your friend. The transition is beautiful but not without a lot of spilled, broken, trashed, destroyed things in the wake. Little girls (I only have one) tend to save their stormy side for teen years.

  138. Courtney, THANK YOU and your son from the bottom of my heart!!!! I so needed to read this today. It’s as if God used this to speak to me. I have 4 little one all under 5. Our second one is exactly what you described. He is all boy and extremely impulsive, but he is so incredibly loving and sweet. At the end of the day, I just feel like I have disciplined him all day. I am constantly reminding him I love him even when he doesn’t obey. I love how you talked about how you had to go through it so you would be down on your knees seeking the Lord for your precious boy! Thank you, you really don’t know how much this blessed me

  139. Thank you, Courtney. I’ve been following your blog for awhile. This really, really encouraged me today. I’ve been talked to in the hallway at church, too. I have a strong willed 3 year old (amazing) boy and many times I feel like you described. Thank you for your encouraging and your perspective!

  140. My oldest son was a wild child…I spent many many days and nights praying and crying. We had so many trials and in his teen years they were bigger and harder to handle. Because of our struggles through the years, there were times I worried he would only remember the discipline. He is 21 now and I am beginning to see the fruits of it all. He remembers the love through it all…When I get a phone call with his “Hi Mama!” It is my greatest joy to hear. I have said many times lately how I wish there were blogs and Facebook during those years…to hear about other moms struggling and knowing I was not the only Mom who felt I was failing and worst failing my son. But in the end our bond is greater because we really depended on each other. Now I praise God for giving me a child that taught me to depend on God, love through anger and despair, and above all never give up. ” The Lord will guide you always. He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well watered garden, like a spring whose water never fails” Isaiah 58:11 Thank you for your transparency, I guarantee It will encourage many moms out there. God Bless you and your family.

  141. Thank you Courtney!! I have a wild 2yr old boy who is a gem and can be a monster in the same moment:) we worked very hard to have him and I have felt as if I was spoiling him and causing this behavior. I appreciate your being candid that just because our little ones can be wild doesn’t mean we as parents are making mistakes. Thanks again for posting from your heart and sharing your stumbling blocks and successes!!

  142. I am a mom of 4 and each one is special and unique. I struggled with my second child, a son, a lot. people would give advice without asking and everywhere we went, people could tell me in detail what was wrong with him, me, my parenting. It made me so insecure and I believd their lies more than the truth in my heart.
    I learned that when I see my value in Gods eyes, I see my value as a mom. I had to learn that I am loved, treasured, beautiful and special in Gods eyes.
    A wise lady once told me that I shouldn’t worry about all that is said and thought. She said to me: “God chose me as his parent because I am the best mom for this child”. That hit home for me. If God thought I was the best mom for him, well Who better to believe and trust than Him?
    It changed my self confidence as mom and I could enjoy my son and his wild side.. I loved my boy as he was and I no longer tried to make him someone he is not.
    I learned to speak his love language ( 5 love languages of children by Chapman) and it helped my boy to feel loved and accepted. Now he is 14 and he is funny, a bit crazy guy but oh so sweet to his little brothers with a golden heart.. I wouldn’t want him to change for anything in the world. God created him as he is and I praise God for that and love him unfailingly. ( do note that I do not accept rude behaviour or misschief. Kids will be disciplined according to their behaviour and age..but I will do it behind closed doors and I try not to do that in public unless behaviour asks for that..)

  143. Thank you I needed this today, we just came in from a story hour at our local Barnes & Nobel when I was so stressed at the behavior of my 3 almost 4 year old son. As I watched other little ones listen to the story sitting on the bench good as gold and here is my son acting out and being unruelly. Thank you for this!

  144. I just loved this one Courtney! My own Son was/is the wild child, and more! I also found myself doing the very same things you did. I yelled, screamed, prayed cried, prayed, sought advice from Pastors, and friends, parents, and even strangers. Did I mention I prayed??? Now my own”wild child”Is a strapping 19 year old, is getting ready to graduate high school with an 89% GPA!!!! Woo! I wish I could say he grew out of the wild child persona, but he did not. HA! He has grow tremendously in respect, spirit, responsibility, and so many other beautiful qualities(too many for this doting Momma to list). He and I believe that he could very well be a blessing to a child in a similar circumstance. I will say I love my Son, and in many, many ways he is still a blessing in my life. And I thank God every day for letting me be a blessing to him. To all the other Moms out there, who are going through this? God knows what he is doing! Take comfort in that!

  145. I worked in a prison as an alcohol and drug counselor and learned about the 52 Characteristics of the Criminal Personality, and I would have sworn that both my children had them all. That is not faith, its fear. “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but judicious beating will rid him of it” We prayed together daily at bedtime, discussed the best and worst things of the day, and any moral lessons learned that day. We closed with the Lord’s prayer every night. They both accepted the Lord, and slowly began to grow in the Lord. Another book that helped me a lot was called “Children, the challenge” by Rudolf Dreikurs. One table in it helps you identify the ‘motivation’ for the misbehavior, and the best response to get them to stop. One other thing-plan and prepare fun things to do with them. Stay one step ahead of them. Reward good behavior, they will work for rewards. None of us would go to work as adults to avoid a spanking, but we go for our paycheck. I pray Blessings on all you good mothers out there!

  146. I’m so broken. So tired. So disappointed in myself for not having the 3 well behaved boys I strived for. I know they are only young, but something has eluded us. Something that discipline and consistency and routine isn’t fixing. Please let them grow up beautiful.

  147. Hi Courtney, I had to come back and reread this post today because I’ve been having the same problems with one of my children. I am curious as to how you dealt with these issues while you are homeschooling?

  148. I’m a single mom to a wild child who is 3.5. He can be as sweet as can be, but is constantly in trouble at daycare and gets angry and even hits me. I’m using time out, but he won’t even stay in the chair without me forcing him. I definitely feel like a total failure as a mommy.

  149. Thank you so much for sharing. This is exactly where I find myself right now. Raising two precious, but very wild boys.

  150. Thank you so much all of you women for encouraging others. I have balled my eyes out. I really needed this today and the Lord lead me here today. I just need to put it in His hands and keep on working hard. I have a “spirited” 4 year old who just started prek. Already getting frowny faces at school. Thank you all for the advice. Many of the moms I know have pretty calm kids and I wasn’t finding any advice or experience. You brevet know how the Lord will use you. Thank you all!!!!

  151. Dany Silk, Loving on purpose just now works 🙂 My dearest active child teaches me lot. I love and cry and pray and fight for him and do mistakes and say sorry and love him a would not be without him even one day, but yes, I work hard 🙂 But he does too. Bless you all

  152. Just wanted to thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences with us. I am so grateful I came across your blog. I’ve been deeply touched and uplifted. I’ve cried like a baby ???? reading your journey. I have 3 precious kids under 3 and it’s overwhelming to say the least. I thank God for your story and the power it has to encourage a mom like me. I find myself with fear sometimes. My “wild child” is almost 3 years old (my first born) she’s a miracle and I struggle a lot with her. You’re testimony gives me hope. Thank you for being honest and open with your heart. May God continue to bless you and your family.

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