Any parent who has a strong-willed child knows what a challenge it can be to raise that child. It often feels like all you do is spend your days butting heads and engaging in power struggles. As difficult as it may be to parent them though, strong-willed children usually grow up to be self-motivated, creative leaders. Their strong will leads them to be determined and driven adults. The question is, how do you help them channel that strong will without going crazy in the process? The following tips can help you navigate these challenging years.
From Strong-Willed to Determined and Driven: Navigating Your Child’s Challenging Behaviors
1. It’s not personal
First, you must understand that your child’s acts of will are not a personal attack against you. It can often feel like it since these displays of apparent defiance often come when you’ve given them an instruction to follow. However, attempting to remove your feelings from the situation can help a great deal. Your child is not going against you to try to bug you or because they don’t like you. It’s simply their nature to want to self-direct and know the WHY behind something.
2. Strong-willed children have a need to feel heard and respected
Just as they need to understand the reasoning behind something, strong willed kids also need to feel as though they are part of the decision-making process. A list of demands will not sit well with them and will leave you both frustrated. Showing your child that you respect their thoughts and feelings will go a long way in reducing power struggles and arriving at an outcome you’re both happy with.
3. Strong-willed children need choices
Your child has a need to feel in control, and having a say in what happens in their own life is an important part of allowing them to feel that control. In as many situations as you are able, give your strong-willed child choices. Depending on their age, this may be a choice between two things, several things, or even an open-ended choice.
As your child gets older and has more leeway in decision-making processes, it’s okay to allow them to choose something that may not end with positive results. This gives you the opportunity to discuss potential outcomes before they make their final choice, which helps them learn how to think through decisions. Even if they make a choice that ends poorly, they can learn from the natural consequences that come with making a bad decision.
4. You’re on the same team
When you’re in the middle of a power struggle, it’s easy to feel like you and your child are pitted against each other. The truth of the matter though is that you’re on the same team, even when it doesn’t feel like it. You both want what’s in the best interest of your child, even if you don’t necessarily agree on what that is or how it should be accomplished. By approaching difficult situations in the frame of mind that you’re on the same team as your child, you may be able to avoid some of the conflict that so often accompanies these situations.
Learning what makes strong-willed children tick can help you parent your child with understanding and patience. It is not an easy task set before you, but the rewards are great for those who are willing to work through the challenges. For more information on strong-willed children, visit the following resources: