Children, especially toddlers and teens, come off as headstrong most of the time. They become more agreeable as they grow past those stages.
Strong-willed kids don’t outgrow their stubbornness. If your child has been consistently tough to deal with, then mostly they are strong-willed.
Strong-willed kids may exhibit bad behavior most of the time, but that does not mean that they are bad kids. To be effective in parenting the strong-willed child, do not leave anything to chance.
You will need to put in the time and effort to understand your kid’s needs and the best way to reach out to them.
Instead of branding your willed child and making them feel worse, seek to understand them first. Knowing what you’re dealing with saves both you and your willed child enough trouble.
Understanding a strong-willed child
From a very tender age, it is possible to point out strong-willed kids. Their temperaments are pretty evident.
You can tell that they are not about to outgrow their spirited nature, so you learn how to handle them.
Who is a strong-willed child?
A willed child is one who consistently and persistently insists on having their way. People use the words stubborn and headstrong to describe them since they do not give in easily.
Spirited kids are not necessarily bad, but they have power struggles that can negatively affect their parent-child relationship.
Characteristics of a Spirited Kid
Questions Everything: Strong-willed kids do not take everything the way it comes to them. They want to know the why behind your suggestions or instructions. They will have their way of doing things that is contrary to what you are suggesting. If your why is not convincing enough, then you don’t stand a chance with a willed child.
Issue Commands: These kids have no qualms commanding others around. They will do this to their peers and adults too. If they feel the need to do something, they do not ask for permission to act. They appoint themselves to lead and tell others what to do and how. Bossiness is their way of life, and they don’t apologize for it.
Determine their Pace: A willed child determines how they do things and progress at their pace. It is not in their nature to follow the masses. They might not act on instructions promptly like the majority of the kids. These young ones believe that they have the power to decide how they do things, living life on their terms.
Outbursts of Anger: More than the average kid, a spirited child will have regular anger outbursts. They exhibit strong emotions of anger when they don’t get their way. These kids throw tantrums more often and worse than other children.
Their tolerance for pain and frustration is below average. When something or someone sets them off, these kids can be destructive. Parenting the strong-willed child calls for high emotional intelligence.
They Hear Want They Want: Have you heard of selective hearing? It is one trait of strong-willed younglings. You can make two statements consecutively, and they will react to one and ignore the other.
Spirited kids choose what they will respond to or assume. If they don’t like something, they pretend that they didn’t hear it. Being the interrogators that they are, you will need evidence to prove that they heard you.
It’s Their Way or the Highway: If your child doesn’t comply without a fight or assumes your nagging, then they are spirited. Such kids stick to their way and do not easily budge. They will question everything you say, provide their alternatives and push for their opinion. Withdrawing screen time for a month might not be enough to get their compliance.
Worrisomely Entitled: Strong-willed kids do not care about the difference between wants and needs. They believe that in their right to everything. If they want something, your opinion on whether they need it or not doesn’t matter. They will throw terrible tantrums in the malls until you give in to their demands.
They are Judge and Jury: Spirited kids insist on their way. Once they set their mind on something, other people’s opinions don’t matter. Even when something is outright wrong, they will do it anyway. They prefer to deal with the consequences of their bad choices, other than following your advice.
The blessing of parenting the strong-willed child.
Raising a spirited child can be draining. The time and energy a parent need to build a functional parent-child relationship is a lot. However, it is not all gloomy.
There is silver to having a strong-willed kid, as stated below:
- It is hard to brainwash them since they question everything before following.
- Due to their strong will, spirited children forge their way to success better than the average kids. Their power struggles pave the way for them to shine.
- They are born leaders and do not wait for an appointment before they can act.
- Other people’s opinions do not bother them. While this could cost them, it shields them from negative energy. It’s not easy to dampen their strong spirit.
- Parenting the strong-willed child will make you a better parent. You will become a better listener and develop your emotional intelligence.
- Spirited kids deal with bullies’ heads-on. They fight for fairness and refuse to become anyone’s doormat.
- Going against the grain can work for their good. Strong-willed children are less prone to peer pressure and have strong entrepreneurial abilities.
The next time you feel unlucky for having a spirited child, remember the points above and thank the universe.
You are raising a power-packed individual who only needs the right nudge to thrive.
How to Get it Right in Parenting the strong-willed child
Parenting is not a gamble but a well-thought-out process with choices and consequences. You may not fully predict the outcomes but putting your best foot forward will save you and your child unnecessary struggles.
Parenting a spirited child takes above-average deliberate efforts.
Sure-bet Tips for Raising a Spirited Kid
Get Your Reasons Right
The inquisitive nature of strong-willed kids does not leave room for empty commands. These are not the kinds of children who do things ‘because mommy or daddy said so.’ They will push all your buttons until you give satisfying explanations.
Before you ask them to do something, have your reasons ready.
Headstrong children also have a soft spot. Try to reach that spot through empathy. Acknowledge their needs and understand how they feel. One of the ways to disarm them is by genuinely caring for them.
Listen with your heart, and do not disregard their hurt and concerns.
Harness the Power Within Them
Strong-willed children suffer from power struggles that make their parent-child relationships difficult. You can flip this by using that power to drive them in the right direction. Try to involve them when making rules and decisions that affect them.
Listen to their opinions and reason together.
Let Them Explore
Spirited children would rather experience than listening to theories. For better results in parenting, avoid confining them to do’s and don’ts. Allow them to learn through experience as long as there are no detrimental consequences involved.
They are experiential learners, so offer your guidance and leave the rest to them.
Be the Adult in the Room
In parenting the strong-willed child, you will have a lot of adulting to do. Arguing with a toddler does not earn you any points as a parent. Please find a way to cultivate a relationship with them instead of a stand-off.
Ways to Effectively Discipline A Strong-willed Kid
Unlike for other kids where simple threats might work, spirited children need more than that. Again, excessive use of force makes the situation worse. For you to effectively discipline your willed child, you will need a blend of wit and authority.
Below are some of the strategies that work:
Honor Your Word
To stamp your authority as a parent, ensure that you follow through with your discipline plan. If you say that tantrums will cost them their screen time for a month, do not relent. Otherwise, your kid will never take you seriously.
They will keep pushing your buttons, knowing that you only issue empty threats.
Headstrong kids would rather have options to choose from than one way that you impose on them. This strategy dilutes their need to rebel since they don’t feel fixed. When you offer different options for the same thing, you retain the power as the instructor.
The child also feels that they have the right to choose, so it’s a win-win situation.
Stand Your Ground
Raising a strong-willed child will require you to develop a backbone. If your child throws a tantrum in the mall, do not give in to save face. They know that their intense emotions are likely to bear fruits, especially in public.
Ignore bad behavior if that will make a cooperative child out of them.
State Your Expectations Clearly
Do not leave anything to chance by leaving gaps in your communication. Let your child know what you expect of them and the consequences for every wrong choice. To ensure that they get it right, involve them in making the rules.
Explain your reasons for each instruction and listen to their opinions too.
Discipline by Training not Punishment
Strong-willed kids are like eggs. The more you boil them, the harder they become. Dealing harshly with such a kid makes them more headstrong, and they feel a greater need to prove themselves.
Walk with them through the journey to abandoning difficult behavior. Help them to unpack and process their emotions so that they can cope better.
Spirited kids can be impatient, especially if they want something to be done for them. Do not let their tantrums throw you off balance. Train them to wait and follow the due process.
You can do this tenderly yet firmly so that they get the point without further agitation. Teach them the importance of patience and other virtues and how they will benefit from them.
Parenting the strong-willed child is challenging but also fulfilling. Watching your kid outgrow negative behaviors without losing their will is rewarding.
The tips discussed here will be of help as you embark on a successful parenting journey. You can also read parenting books to diversify your knowledge.