Strong willed children can be a challenge when they are young, but if parented in a sensitive way they can turn out to be terrific teenagers and adults. It is a daunting task for parenting strong willed children. Strong willed children are often self-motivated and inner directed, they often go after what impervious to any external pressures. Parenting has to be very sensitive and careful towards the needs of strong willed children.
Call them stubborn or difficult, strong willed children are difficult to sway from their viewpoints. They are extremely spirited and courageous. They learn things their way rather than accepting what others say. They want desperately to be “in charge” of themselves, and will sometimes put their desire to “be right” above everything else. If they have their heart on something then it becomes difficult to switch gears. They are extremely passionate and heart rules their minds.
Here are some wise tips for parenting strong-willed children:
- Always remember strong-willed kids are experiential learners – Let them learn themselves from their experience. Do not try to control them.
- Let your child take charge – Give her the freedom to do as many activities in her own way. Do not nag. Needless to say, kids who feel more independent and in charge of themselves will have less need to be oppositional. Not to mention, they take responsibility early.
- Give your child choices – Avoid giving orders, instead offer choices for your child to choose from. Keep in mind that you should only offer choices you can live with and don’t let yourself get resentful by handing away your power.
- Give your child authority over their body – Your child knows that if a thing is good for her or not. For example, if it is cold, instead of nagging her to wear a jacket, let the decision be hers, suggest wearing a sweater or jacket once. Leave it up to her to wear it or not. You don’t want to undermine that self-confidence, just teach her that there’s no shame in letting new information change her mind.
- Avoid power struggles by using rules and routines.
- Don’t push them into opposing you – Avoid taking a hard and fast position as it can easily push your child into defying you to prove a point. Stop, take a deep breath and remind yourself that winning a battle with your child always sets you up to lose what’s most important: the relationship.
- Listen – By listening calmly to your child and reflecting on their words you will be able to understand what’s pushing them into opposing you.
- Discipline through relationship and not punishment – Give enough support to your child to feel a connection and will usually agree to what you want. Kids cooperate because there’s something they want more than getting their way at the moment — they want that warm relationship with us.
These tips for parenting strong-willed children will help you to connect with them and make them learn to accept your guidance and advice.