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{Gentle} parenting my 3 year old daughter with purpose

Parenting a strong willed, full of sass 3 year old isn’t always easy. My little girl is in a stage where she copies everything I say with an attitude and harsh tone. She will throw things and sometimes use force to kick or push. I never experienced this with my son. He was so gentle and never talked back to me, ever.


My middle child is the complete opposite. Do not get me wrong she can be the sweetest little 3 year old you will ever meet. It’s like she hides this front around other people. When she is with mom though she unleashes it all. I’ve heard it from numerous people that when she is with them she is like a little angel and then when mom comes around she changes. Why though? Do I give in too much? Am I too lenient? I don’t know… I am working on it though.








Tonight was a huge realization moment for us. Jerod was gone tonight so we went to a store and she wasn’t getting her way and decides to throw a huge temper tantrum in the middle of the aisle. I remain calm and not yell. She continues, screaming, stomping her feet, and talking back to me with an attitude. I say to her “Ainsley you will NOT speak to me like that and you WILL obey or we will go home.” She continued, she knew what she was doing. She wanted me to give in and let her push her baby in the cart and run into people with it. I wasn’t having it and said Ainsley if you don’t come here RIGHT now we ARE GOING HOME! I said all of this in a gentle tone and never raised my voice and never threatened to spank her, which I have definitely done in the past. ( She reacts positively to spankings, not sure if you are for or against them but they happen in our house, very rarely do they happen though.)




She stopped screaming and came to me, not happy, but she came to me and OBEYED! I think a few, key things happened on my end for her to obey.


  1. I never raised my voice and got down on her eye-level.
  2. I did not give in and let her win the battle.
  3. I made clear expectations and made it known that if she didn’t follow through we were going home.


My children really respond to gentle words. I think we all do. Who wants to be yelled at? Who wants to be threatened with a harsh consequence like a spanking or being grounded?





As a parent, I have a very short temper which I always thought was strange because I never did when I taught my 1st graders. I think I’ve done my fair share of bribing my kids and raising my voice in order to put fear in them to obey.



That’s where I’ve gone wrong. I don’t want my children to fear me. I do want to be firm in my discipline, but also gentle. I want my children to respond with gentleness as well.




With a gentle voice, touch and a gentle heart your child can grow the gentleness God wants them to pursue.



This is by far the biggest fruit of the spirit I need to work on as a parent. Gentleness.


Instead of yellow and saying “NO!” or “DON’T” Why not lead with questions… ” Is that the best choice?”  ” You are going to hurt yourself if you climb up there, would you like me to help you?”




Lastly, whenever I can tell Ainsley is frustrated I will always use physical touch and ask if she wants me to hold her in that moment, she always says yes. I get down on her eye-level and hold her. This has truly worked for her.



My purpose is to show my children love and gentleness…. exactly what Jesus shows me.



Do you have a strong-willed child also? What do you do when they don’t obey?


Thanks for reading, YOU are amazing!







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  • Reply
    July 11, 2017 at 11:00 am

    I can relate to this so much! Although Liam has Ds, he is my strong willed child. I actually reached the point recently where I bought a Ds specific discipline book, and the approach is calm, gentle, positive parenting. It’s hard not to keep from just yelling no, but he responds much better when I’m calm!d Hang in there, mama. Three is a tough age, especially when they are stubborn and opinionated!

  • Reply
    Mary Ware
    July 11, 2017 at 12:39 pm

    This is really great, and timely for me! My daughter is showing she is going to be extremely stubborn and like to test the boundaries and my limits all the time and she is only 20 months! She responds best to gentle parenting as well, but definitely needs those limits (quite the daredevil) so this is great!

  • Reply
    July 11, 2017 at 1:00 pm

    Oh my gosh, THANK YOU!!!! I totally needed this, my 4 year old is JUT like me. So impatient and it’s hard not to yell. Gentleness, thank you.

  • Reply
    July 11, 2017 at 4:33 pm

    Love this! My two and four year olds are so difficult right now, but I need to remember that connecting with them to help them communicate their needs rather than making them listen to me is MUCH better in the long run. If only I could remember that every day

  • Reply
    Beth Newcomb
    July 11, 2017 at 6:02 pm

    Mama, I hear you! I rarely get pushed so far as to let my voice get to a yell, but when I do, I INSTANTLY regret it. When I treat my chuldren with kindness, and gentleness, I get much more positive results. It can be tough to do this in the moment, but the long-term reward is great.

  • Reply
    Tabitha Blue
    July 11, 2017 at 7:43 pm

    Oh goodness, my four year old boy is so strong willed… and mama, I needed to read this tonight. “My purpose is to show my children love and gentleness…. exactly what Jesus shows me.” Yes, just yes.

  • Reply
    July 11, 2017 at 9:02 pm

    Love this! My youngest (and soon to be middle child) is the same way!

  • Reply
    Anna Barton
    July 12, 2017 at 11:14 am

    Love your heart, Brittany! I do similar things with mine – the eye contact/eye level one is a total game changer. Your babies are blessed to have a mama who tries so hard and cares so much. xo

  • Reply
    Aly Funk
    July 12, 2017 at 1:20 pm

    I so needed to read this today in the worst way. We are having a rough day and I’ve raised my voice some, which I hate doing. My 3 year old is strong willed too and I see this happen some. Thank you for sharing. I want to be gentle in my teaching as well!

  • Reply
    July 12, 2017 at 2:51 pm

    I love this idea of gentle parenting. I have been trying it with my toddler since he turned 1 or started throwing fits, what ever came first. Thanks for sharing your parenting journey, it is so inspirating.

  • Reply
    July 12, 2017 at 3:27 pm

    such great reminder on how to discipline a child. I struggle a lot at times with this.

  • Reply
    July 14, 2017 at 8:21 pm

    I read an article recently that talked about why kids act differently around their moms than other people. The gist was that they see us as a safe place to unload all their (wild, wonderful) emotions. What an honor that they feel safe enough to do that around us. Even though it sucks sometimes!!!!

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