My daughter has one of those Wall expressions on her wall that says, 'Princess" in big letters. Those who know me might be very surprised to hear that if they don't know what the rest of her wall says. I have this thing with the word Princess. I cringe when I hear it. You know what I mean? I feel like all the kids at school that I ever saw wear a shirt that said Princess or that I ever heard called a Princess tended to act the part. And I don't mean in a good way. You know the attitude I'm talking about? The look at me, I'm the best, and I need all the attention attitude? The kind of attitude that I want to steer my child as far away from as possible.
Anyway...I actually love the wall expression (or whatever those things are called!) on my 4 year old's wall because the whole thing reads: Princess, Daughter of a Heavenly King.
You see, that's the only way that I want my dear daughter to think of herself as a princess. Because while she is highly adored by her daddy and I (and many other loving family members!), the truth is: She is NOT a princess. She is a little girl who struggles with the same things other 4 year old girls struggle with. Including and maybe I'd even say ESPECIALLY that princess attitude. Why is it that some girls have this struggle and others don't? You moms that have a little girl who tends to be this way know what I mean. And I have to admit...before I was a mom, I saw it in other kids and thought...What IS that parent doing wrong? Haha. And I'd venture to say several people have probably wondered the same thing about me from time to time (or maybe more than that!). I'm not sure if it's because she innately leans toward craving attention and needing to be in charge (she is strong willed at it's finest) or if it's that she was first born/first grandchild/first niece...first baby in the family for awhile. Whatever it is, it is a struggle. And the truth is, it really doesn't matter WHY it's a struggle, it just matters how we are going to help her overcome this struggle.
There are some choices that parents that have a child with "The Princess Complex" face: Should they just ignore it, trusting it will work itself out over time? I think that is very dangerous. If I did this with mine, she would escalate and escalate UNTIL she had my attention, whatever it took. I don't think this is the answer. Should we punish it out of them? Again, I think this is dangerous AND doesn't work. If I punished her every single time she showed any trace of this attitude, truthfully she'd be in time out a major portion of the day. Now don't get me wrong...there are many consequences she receives as a result of this attitude. But I don't think punishing alone gets the message across. Because the real issue is...a heart issue.
So what do we do with this? My husband and I basically have this approach:
-Pray about this issue...take it to God and ask Him to work in her heart on this.
-Pray WITH her...asking God to fill her up with His love and that she would remember her job is to show His love to others.
-Praise her when we see grace shown to others and her knowledge of what is right trumping what she would LIKE to do.
-Give consequences for inappropriate choices and behavior. After the consequence, talk about why that behavior happened...what her heart was telling her at that time.
-Talk about til we are blue in the face ways we can show God's love to others, how God has shown us mercy and grace and that we need to do the same for others, and model it!
A verse I try to use with her is:
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
This is hard for her to understand some times but we talk about...if your heart is telling you something that isn't true or isn't right or isn't lovely, then we need to replace it with something that IS true and right and lovely.
These are a few of the approaches we have used. Some days they work and other days, not so much! Anybody else raising a princess or prince that might need to be reminded they aren't really royal at times? :)