Over the years I’ve read many articles, books and posts on parenting a strong willed child. Almost all of them have said that they saw early signs of their child being very strong willed and I’ve got to tell you that this wasn’t the case with my son.
Don’t get me wrong, he had his fair share of tantrums and digging his heels in, but it wasn’t until he was about 8 years old that he really began to show us that he was a force to be reckoned with.
I noticed small changes in his attitude and how he would react to being disciplined or told no. It’s been a challenge to parent him at times, but I have learned a few ways to make parenting my strong willed child a little less stressful and hopefully these tips will help parenting yours easier too!
This is hands down THEE hardest tip for me to follow. When my son is running his mouth aka being disrespectful by talking back, it takes everything in me not to grab him by his collar (this is how I was raised) or lose my temper and yell. Mostly because my Mom didn’t tolerate back talk when I was a child. She would give me a swift hand to the cheek and that was that! But I don’t like to hit my son and to be honest it doesn’t work. I think spanking(not abusing) works better in their younger years but as they get older it makes matters worse. Especially when you have a strong willed child. So when hes talking back or telling me how it isn’t fair that x,y and z is happening, I take a deep breath and think before I react. I find that when I keep my voice the same tone and quiet that it calms him down too. But if I lose my temper and begin yelling he will either yell back or lose his temper and begin to cry and act out. Remember that you are the adult and you set the example of how he should act.
Make consequences clear
A strong willed child will try to test every boundary you put in place because by nature they like to challenge. My son would be a great lawyer! His arguing skills are superb! Lol. I find that making a list of rules and the consequences for each broken rule in black and white helps because when a rules gets broken and my strong willed child begins trying to argue as to why he shouldn’t be punished we can walk over to our list of rules and consequences and look at it together. Now don’t get me wrong, he still doesn’t like it and he still will try to get me to back down, but there’s no argument of what the consequence was for the broken rule.
Be consistent with consequences
If your strong willed child breaks one of your rules, you MUST give them a consequence. If you are wishy washy and one time you give in, then your child knows that if he argues enough or cries enough that you might give in. Consistency is key here. This is another reason why having a rule and consequence list is great because there is no coming up with a punishment. It’s clear to you and your child what will happen if the rule is broken.
Listen to what your strong willed child has to say
One of the things about a strong willed child is they like to be HEARD. Loud and clear! They will try to over talk you to be heard if you don’t ever give them an opportunity to speak. Then you will get mad because they keep interrupting you and it can get even worse than it needs to be. Give them a chance to speak and tell you how they feel. Tweens/teens especially are struggling with feeling the need to be heard and independence. Let them talk and when they are finished respond to what they said. Not just what you want to say to get your point across. This helps the communication between you both because your strong willed child will feel like you actually are listening.
Give them time to cool down if they need it
If your strong willed child is anything like mine then sometimes they can get really mad or frustrated when they aren’t getting their way and my son will ask me if he can just go to his room. The temper in me flares and I want to say no you can let me finish what I’m saying first, but I’ve learned it’s best to let him calm down first and then come back to talk. He is usually a lot more receptive and apologetic after he has had a minute to think and calm down. When I force him to sit and talk he is not at all receptive and usually gets in more trouble by talking back; in turn making me angrier and it becomes a vicious cycle. Giving him his few minutes to calm down also gives me a minute to calm down too because let’s face it, he got that temper from me!
Give them positive praise when they do something good
Children need praise. If they don’t get it, they will begin to act out because they think that they are going to be in trouble anyway. When your child does something good such as following the rules or completing a chore without being asked, praise them! Tell them that you appreciate them being obedient and following the rules. Tell them you love them and give them a big hug. Sometimes the smallest things like a hug can make the biggest difference to a kid who is strong willed and might get himself in trouble a lot. Another good way to praise them is to give them a reward. The reward could be something small like an extra scoop of ice cream or 30 more minutes of TV time or it could be a $5 toy or book at the end of the week. It gives them something to work towards and enjoy.
Set time aside to spend with your strong willed child
I have found that sometimes my son will act out when he feels like he is not getting enough one-on-one time with me or my husband. We also have a 15 month old and as you may know, toddlers require ALOT of care, time and attention. It can be difficult to still give my 11 year old that one-on-one attention he craves. So now I try to make time that can be just me and him. Whether it’s a trip to the movies alone together, or a little lunch date, or just me cuddling him on the couch reading a book together, I try to give him Mommy time. When your strong willed child feels like he/she is getting the love and attention he desires, his/her behavior will usually improve. Mostly because children by nature want to please their parents. They want you to be proud of them. When you fill them up with love, it motivates them to want to do well. You’d be surprised how much a little love, kind words and attention can help!
Being the parent of a strong willed child can be a daunting job that sometimes feels like there is no end in sight, but using the tips above can really help make your relationship with your child better and also help your strong willed child start to behave like a mature young adult. Hang in there Mama, YOU CAN DO THIS!
What tips do you use to parent your strong willed child? Leave me a comment below!