Coming to the realization that I have a strong willed child was equally absolutely terrifying and incredibly exciting for me.
When you look at a strong willed child you may see a stubborn, hyperactive, little trouble maker.
And you’d be right.
Strong willed children will have you pulling your hair out wanting to scream everyday.
But I dare you to look closer.
Look closer and you’ll see a thinker, a leader, a trend setter, a go getter.
The scary part is, the way you raise them is going to determine whether those characteristics take them to the top or to the bottom.
Raised right, strong willed children grow up to be very self motivated, courageous, successful adults.
How To Raise A Strong Willed Child Into A Thriving Adult
So you have a strong willed child. What do you do?
Well I have to come right out and admit I’ve already made a few mistakes with mine.
I absolutely refuse to raise a child into a disrespectful adult and I’ve gone about that by forcing my daughter to do what I think she should do.
It hasn’t taken me long to realize that my parenting style is not working with her.
I had to take a step back.
I had to ask for some advice, do some reasearch, and I’ve learned a lot.
What Is A Strong Willed Child?
Simply put, a strong willed child is a child determined to do things their own way.
Does your child…
- have a low frustration tolerance?
- struggle to express their feelings in an appropriate way?
- engage in power struggles with you?
- not settle for your rules and demand to know why?
- ignore warnings they don’t want to hear?
If that sounds like your child, here are a few things you need to know.
Strong Willed Children Are Experimental Learners
Does the phrase “be careful” have no effect on your child?
That’s because a strong willed child wants to learn through experience, not through you.
As long as there is no serious threat of injury it’s best to let them learn the consequence of their actions without intervening.
Now, think of it this way.
This same child has grown up and they want to start a business.
However, a friend has started a similar business that has failed miserably and strongly advises against it.
A strong willed person is very likely to not let that advice stop them right?
Plus, with their stubbornness and determination they’re more likely to succeed.
Set And Enforce Rules
Just because a strict parenting style is ineffective with a stubborn child doesn’t mean that all rules should go out the window.
The goal is still to instill good behavior and values so our children grow up to be respectful members of society.
It’s still very important to set limits and enforce consequences for bad behavior, but there are better ways to do this than being strict and forceful.
With my daughter I give one warning for bad behavior.
If “ “, then “ “.
If you don’t get off the dog, then you will sit in time out.
Make sure whatever you say after “then” is enforced. A strong willed child absolutely is not be swayed by hollow threats.
“If, then” confrontations get exhausting and I try to use them as a last result.
We’ll talk about more effective ways to avoid them throughout this post.
Give Authority Through Giving Choices
The biggest reason why your strong willed child rebels is because they crave authority over themselves.
Taking this advice was the hardest for me to swallow.
I felt like giving my child this authority would mean letting her get her own way and be disrespectful.
This is not the case at all.
This need for control produces an adult who is a leader. An adult who thinks for themselves. Who isn’t swayed by others.
Going back to what I said earlier about raising your child right, this can be a good or a bad thing.
Raise them wrong and their stubbornness will have them doing drugs and committing crimes no matter who tells them they shouldn’t or what the consequences are.
If you raise them right no amount of peer pressure will break them from doing the right thing.
Raise them right and they’ll use their strong will to achieve great things.
Sorry, I got a little sidetracked.
As you may be able to tell I’m very passionate about my strong willed child and sharing these bits of advice so you can get excited about yours too.
Back to the point!
Giving your child authority really means tricking them into doing what you need them to do
I can’t really let my strong willed two year old make all of her own decisions or she’d be eating cookies for breakfast and drawing all over my walls.
So what are we to do?
For the most part I let her do whatever she wants, as long as it isn’t bad or breaking our rules.
But, when she wants to do something I can’t let her do I use my secret weapon.
“We can’t have cookies for breakfast because our body’s need good foods right now.
Can I show you those good foods and you can tell me which one you want for breakfast?”
Now I show her the eggs, fruit, or cereal and she gets to choose for herself.
It works like magic.
I get her to do what I need her to do, and she gets the control she craves by deciding what she gets to eat.
Pick Your Battles
For the most part, non strong willed children do what you say, little to no questions asked.
Strong willed children however, push back.
It can get very exhausting, very quickly.
No matter how tiring it can be you need to enforce the rules you set in place and the consequences you threaten.
I’ve learned to pick my battles and bite my tongue.
I often ask myself, “Is what she’s doing bad or do I want her to stop because I find it annoying?”
As long a we aren’t in public bothering other people, I try to tune whatever it is out.
My daughter isn’t trying to annoying me.
This world is new to her, she’s exploring it and learning.
Listen And Empathize
All children get upset when they don’t get their way. It’s up to us to help them learn the coping skills to deal with these emotions.
It’s hard to empathize with a two year old crying about not being able to wear sandals out in the snow when you have bigger problems to deal with.
I know, but these are the moments we get the opportunity to shape our children’s minds.
When my daughter cries because I tell her she can’t do something I say, “I’m so sorry that makes you sad. Do you want a hug?”.
I’m not giving in to what she wants, but I am showing her that her emotions matter.
I won’t stop what I’m doing to cater to her outbursts, but when I’m not busy I will ask, “Is there anything I can do to make it better”.
If you are busy you can offer them suggestions like, “I’m sorry you can’t play with the iPad right now. Would you like to color with crayons instead”?
Lead By Example
The absolute best way to raise a strong willed child into a thriving adult is to show them what one looks like.
What you say will impact your child, but not nearly as much as what you do.
You are your child’s biggest role model.
They are watching you and they will repeat your behaviors.
Show them kindness by being kind, respect by being respectful, humbleness by being humble.
Raising a strong willed child is not easy.
You’ll have good days and bad days, and some more bad days.
Just know that by being here, reading this post, means you care and you’re a great parent.
Take a deep breath and keep your chin up. Remember these tips, and you’ve got this mama!
- Strong willed children need to learn from their own mistakes
- Stay strong yourself by setting and enforcing rules
- Give your child authority by giving them choices to avoid power struggles
- Pick your battles
- Be respectful of your child’s emotions without letting them be disrespectful to you
For More Tips:
Parenting The Strong-Willed Child Book
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