You Have a Very Difficult Child
Difficult children are difficult to be with. Instead of pleasure, they often provide stress and frustration. Instead of offering joy, they cause you to wish you had a different child. You find yourself being continuously critical of him. You believe that he can't do anything right. It is natural to want to withdraw from interactions which are painful and unrewarding.
Before I had my own children, I believed that our socializing environment was predominantly responsible for who we become. Particularly after having my second daughter, who from day one was so temperamentally different from my first daughter, I began to fully appreciate the predominant influence of our unique, genetic blueprint. There is no getting around it. No matter how effective, consistent, or patient a parent you may be, some children will prove more problematic, more troublesome, more stressful to be with, more volatile in their moods -- in short, more difficult, or to put it in a positive light, more challenging than others.
Ironically, it is the more difficult child who needs you the most. He hears your constant criticisms. He sees your looks of exasperation. And he feels terrible that you think those things about him, for he is desperate for your love. He is desperate for you to tell him he is not the bad person who he suspects everyone (including himself) believes him to be. He needs your encouragement. He needs you to believe in him. He needs you to go the extra mile. He needs you not to give up on him. He needs you to love him no matter what.
How do you not lose patience with a difficult child? By relating to his insecurities. Your child is so bossy because inside she feels so powerless. Your child is a brat because inside he feels frightened and out of control. Your child does exactly what you just told him was not permitted because he feels worthless and anticipates your rejection. Your child doesn't allow himself to hear your words of praise because he feels so unlovable.
"But, I've given him my love and attention," you insist. "Why does he still feel so insecure?" Remember, your child was born with a propensity to develop in particular temperamental ways. His insecurities, therefore, may be an ongoing part of his life. But you can ease his burden. You can keep his insecurities from destroying him.
There is no one in the world who has more power and potential influence to help your child feel better about himself than you. And there is no one in the world who can better teach you how to be more patient and self-sacrificing than your own difficult child. The patience, self-control, and generosity you can ham from raising a difficult child will also help you better deal with the most problematic, most troublesome people you will inevitably encounter in your lifetime.