Day 7: You Only Have to Win by One!

This largely unedited free-write is linking up with the annual Write 31 Days Challenge. // indicates the start and stop of five minutes. The prompt word for today is TEST. Go!



// How many of you know that, as a mom, some things NEVER end. Laundry never ends. Cooking never ends. Cleaning never ends.

You know what else never ends?

DEBATING with your child about whether they WILL or WILL NOT obey you.

Yup, I’m sorry to say. It never ends! The debates may change form and become more intelligent, of course, but they are always a part of life.

I have one of those children. (I won’t embarrass him by naming him out loud, but let’s just say he wasn’t the firstborn.) Up until that point, I had never met a child more stubborn. There were days when it didn’t matter if I was asking him to eat candy, the answer would still be “no.”

I remember once being in Swiss Chalet while on holiday in Ontario, and he was absolutely refusing to eat his supper.

What? Are you kidding me? You are starving and this is your favourite! Chicken, rice, and corn. Why won’t you eat it?”  

Unfortunately, this happened during a tense season of over-the-top political correctness where parents were being arrested for spanking their children. Do you remember it? It was highly stressful and highly controversial. Parents were walking on egg-shells and kids were getting away with murder.

Erwin and I knew that he was beyond hungry and that if he would just TASTE the food, his stubbornness would melt and he would eat the whole plate.

IF… that was the operative word here. IF he would taste it. //

So, I took a risk. I stood up in the restaurant and calmly announced to the other patrons around us that we needed to get him to taste his food and we were not going to hurt him. Then, Erwin held his head still and I shoved a bite of supper into his mouth. Yes, he screamed bloody murder. Yes, it was embarrassing. No, we weren’t angry. No, we didn’t hurt him.

Next thing you know, he was calmly and ravenously eating his food. The other customers just watched in wonder. We had won the battle. RIDICULOUS!

Why are kids like that? Why do they have to be so stubborn? It doesn’t make any sense.

Don’t get me wrong. We love him like crazy, and today he’s a wonderfully loving and sensitive young man. But if there was one button-pusher in my life, it was his irrational stubbornness.

Here’s what I’ve learned over the years…

Tips and Tricks for Parenting your Strong-Willed Child

  1. Choose your battles wisely. Not everything is a non-negotiable. Decide where and when you’re going to tackle big issues. In this instance, we had already discovered at home that he would eat his supper if he just tasted it. That’s why we were confident enough to test it in public.
  1. Pace yourself. When he was really young, one of the mommies in my life said to me, “Shauna, you only have to win by one.” What does that even mean? It means “Don’t give in just because you are exhausted with the battle. You only have to outlast him once to win.”

Stay sweet. Stay calm. Stay focused.

Don’t look at the whole war―just take it battle by battle.

Don’t look at the next 20 years―just look at this one moment.

Don’t try to fix everything at once―just help him through this one issue.

When it comes to parenting a strong-willed child, you only have to win by one! Click To Tweet

I can’t tell you how that phrase has helped me over the years. When my frustration levels would rise and he would push my button ONE MORE TIME, this phrase would ring in my mind. “I only have to win by one. I only have to win by one.”

What does winning look like?

  • Winning means that I don’t lose my temper.
  • It means I don’t yell and scream.
  • It means that I don’t give into his stubbornness just to gain silence.
  • It means I don’t project any rejection on him based on his behaviour.
  • It means that he eventually submits to my request without me losing my cool.

By the way, SUBMISSION only counts when they disagree with you. Up until then, it’s called agreement. You’d be amazed at how many adults still haven’t learned this incredibly valuable lesson. You don’t have to agree in order to submit.

Submission only counts when you disagree. Click To Tweet

My Favourite Parenting Book:

This was, without a doubt, the most important tool in our Parenting Toolbox. It radically changed how we parented!

BOUNDARIES WITH KIDS: When to Say Yes, When to Say No, to Help Your Children Gain Control of Their Lives

by Drs. John Cloud and Henry Townsend

Here’s the basic premise…

  • It is normal and natural for kids to push against boundaries. Don’t take it personally.
  • Only “sadness over their choices” will ever change their behavior. Not guilt, fear, or anger.
  • Always give them a choice. Choice A = obedience resulting in blessing. Choice B = disobedience resulting in lost privileges.
  • Choose the consequence wisely. Is it something you can enforce?
  • Be prepared for them to choose B; they always will. It’s human nature. Then, stick with the consequence and don’t cave in.
  • Don’t ever attack their identity! The privileges they enjoy in life are dependent on their choices, but your love and acceptance are non-negotiable.

Over the years, I have given this book to countless friends because it has helped us so much in our parenting!

If you are struggling to know how to do this thing called PARENTING better, I really recommend that you start here.

You won’t be disappointed.


PLEASE NOTE: This article contains an affiliate link from the Associates Program, a means for sites like mine to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to  When you purchase a product through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same, but my family and I might receive a small commission for referring you. So… Thank you!



To read more of 31 Days of Mom Awesomeness, click here.


For more information on the Write 31 Days challenge, check out Christina Hubbard’s site!31-days-logo



12 replies
  1. Jenneth Graser
    Jenneth Graser says:

    Hi there, thank you for the sound wise advice to this Mommy today who finds herself worn out! One step, one lesson at a time is so good to remember. Visiting from Five Minute Friday, blessings

    • Shauna Blaak
      Shauna Blaak says:

      Hi, Jenneth! I just read your poem about the eagles. Love this: “The places you run to have failed to comfort, you need to lie down.” You do sound like a tired mommy. Praying grace and strength for you, my friend!
      Thanks so much for visiting!

    • Shauna Blaak
      Shauna Blaak says:

      I’m sure you have, my friend! Maybe we should collaborate on some of these words… Two families, two continents, double the wisdom and the fun!
      So glad to see you here!

    • Shauna Blaak
      Shauna Blaak says:

      Haha, such a gift for bringing laughter, Andrew. I can totally see the Jack Russell taking control around there. Our Bella and your Rufus would either hate each other or love each other to bits. Maybe I should dedicate some 31 Days of MOM Awesomeness for the dog. 🙂
      So glad to have you visit again!

  2. Rosanne
    Rosanne says:

    I had one of those strong-willed children too! I swear, if I said the sky was blue, he’d say it was red just to be contrary. As someone who is pretty laid-back, I just didn’t get what he got out of these battles of wills. Some days, I would lie in bed and pray that God would give me the strength to be consistent! One thing I learned was if I lost control, he totally won. Great book was You Can’t Make Me (but you can persuade me) by Cynthia Tobias. She was a strong-willed child herself and wrote it with her grown-up strong-willed son. Opened my eyes! Now, he’s great, but I wasn’t sure I would make through those early years! Thanks for sharing. I’m over here from FMF!

  3. Rone
    Rone says:

    hmmm… this one made me laugh out LOUD! i can only PICTURE the faces of the public, some making as IF they dont see you, some ANCOUR’ing you, some clapping away (in thought) and some thinking of many ways to either thank you for ‘sharing’ or sending you to the nearest SAPS! bahahaha.

    i even do that with my seriously strong, independant 15 MONTH old… forcing a bit (beacause all you see is hands and feet everywhere), and then as soon as the cry (for help) comes, I very carefully place the spoon in the wide open mouth – spot on! eish, and then they DO realize “IM HUNGRY AND THIS STUFF IS GOOOOOOD!”

    thank you Shauna, you make me feel “at home” as a mom that doesnt always get it right! only win by ONE… !!! Antonio and Sion (and my strong willed child of 31…;) here Mommy comes, armed and ready! (i mean that well, and armed in the spirit… hehe)


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.