As a parent of a strong-willed child, you know that it can sometimes be difficult to get them to cooperate. In this article, I’m going to share with you 5 proven tips for handling a strong-willed child that will help make parenting easier for both you and your child.
Make sure to read this entire article so that you don’t miss a thing!
In this Article
- 1. Don’t correct in the moment
- 2. Drop the rope
- 3. Avoid Power Struggles
- 4. Acknowledge feelings
- 5. Person to Person relationship
Does your child tend to push back more than what seems normal, do they hate being told what to do, do they struggle to take responsibility for their actions? are they quick to get upset when things don’t go their way, or do they make up their own rules to follow?
If so, you may be wondering if you have a strong-willed child.
A strong-willed child is defined as a child who is determined to do things their way, even if it goes against what you want them to do. As a parent, this can often be frustrating, but there are ways that you can handle a strong-willed child so that both you and your child are happy.
5 Tips For Handling A Strong-Willed Child
1. Don’t correct in the moment
All children especially strong-willed children need to be pre-taught. This means establishing expectations and rules beforehand. If you wait to correct your child at the moment, they are more likely to get upset and fight against you.
Instead of in the moment saying “no I’m not going to buy candy today.” When your strong-willed child asks you for candy at the store.
You establish expectations before walking into the store by saying “okay, we are going to go into the store and only grab what is on the shopping list. That means no candy or toys today okay? Now, what are the things we are only going to buy today?”
Compromise + Collaboration = a win-win for strong-willed children. Collaboration is understanding your child’s concerns, perspective, and point of view; entering your concerns and point of view into consideration, and working together toward realistic, mutually satisfactory solutions.
Dominate parents tend to only take their concerns into play and permissive parents only take their children’s concerns into to play. But when you can collaborate with your child it is taking everyone’s concerns into play and working together for realistic solutions.
2. Drop the rope
When raising strong-willed children you may need to do from time to time delay disciplining. This is because when a child and parent is upset. The part of the brain that processes logic, reasoning, empathy, and understanding shuts down until you are calm again. It’s hard to behave right if you don’t feel right. As a parent, you may need to drop the rope and avoid trying always to win.
The famous saying it takes 2 to argue is true. If your child just won’t stop arguing you can drop the rope by saying “I will talk more with you about this after dinner” you also want to look at the situation and question if it’s worth the battle.
Let’s say your toddler starts to play in the mud is it worth the battle of trying to get them to stop? If not, drop the rope and let them play in the mud. Winning the battle with your child is not worth costing your relationship with your child.
3. Avoid Power Struggles
A power struggle is when two people are trying to win or be in control. If you find yourself getting into a lot of power struggles with your child it can damage your relationship with them. You know when you have entered a power struggle when you are invested in winning.
Here are 2 ways to help you avoid getting into a power struggle with your child
- Give choices
This allows your child to have some power and control in their life. Nobody likes being told what to do all the time especially strong-willed children. So instead of making demands try giving choices such as “Would you like to turn off the tv now or in 10 minutes?”, “Do you want to do your homework before or after dinner?” “Would you like me to put on your left shoe or your right shoe first?”
Parents give choices that they are okay with and the child gets to have some control and independence in their lives as well.
2. Be consistent
If you are not consistent with your children it will only create confusion and chaos. When you are consistent with your children they know what to expect and what the expectations are. They also know that you mean what you say.
The next proven tip is to
4. Acknowledge feelings
So many parents want to just fix the problem they are having with their child and want all the tips to help with that problem. However, sometimes simply acknowledging a child’s negative feelings is all that the child needed.
Let’s imagine for a second that you wake up feeling bad. You didn’t have a good night and you woke up with a throbbing headache. You slowly get yourself dressed for work and when you get to work at your high-stress job you run into a coworker and you say to her “I just want to go home. I am not looking forward to any of my meetings today and I just want to stay in bed all day and sleep.”
How would you feel if your coworker got after you for being lazy and your complaining attitude?
(You’re going to be just fine, stop complaining. Take some Tylenol and you’ll feel much better.”
How would you feel if your coworker tried to give you some advice?
( I know you feel lousy but you have to get it together. The CEO is coming to our meeting today and you have that big presentation to make. What you should do is go and take a Tylenol, and drink plenty of water. Maybe even lay down in your office for a few minutes.”
Maybe your coworker was trying to be helpful by giving you a lecture:
(I know you don’t feel good and you want to be home but you have to do things you don’t want to do. That’s just life. Try to think of something good and positive instead of focusing so much on the negative of being at work.”
Lastly, what if your coworker started a random Q&A session with you?
(How come you didn’t sleep well last night? Did you get to bed early? Are you drinking enough water? Do you think you are getting sick? Is your presentation ready?
Would you feel good after talking to this coworker? My guess is that you probably would have some rude things you are saying about this person in your head and they probably made you more upset.
This is true for children. For children to behave right, they need to feel right.
5. Person to Person relationship
A person-to-person relationship is based on respect. When a parent talks to their child in a respectful way it goes a long way. This doesn’t mean that the parent should be scared or intimated by their child’s emotions or words instead they should understand where their child is coming from and validate their feelings while also setting boundaries.
Just because children are smaller doesn’t mean they don’t deserve respect. If you are upset with your spouse are you going to send them to time-out? No! you would talk it through and work with them. This person-to-person relationship is what all children need especially strong-willed children because they will do anything to keep their integrity intact.
If you have a strong-willed child and are struggling to keep up with their out-of-the-box thinking try these five tips. They might just be what you need to help you and your child find some middle ground.
Now there is a lot more to parenting than what I have covered in this video. Such as how to establish boundaries that stick, how to help your children WANT to cooperate and listen, and how to remain calm during triggering situations.
Make sure to check out my book called Parenting Without Drama and learn all that I mentioned above and more plus you can also join my Facebook Group called Gentle Parenting Toddlers & Preschoolers.