Do you need encouragement and help with a strong-willed child? Are you at your wits end and unsure of what to do? Are you confused about all of the popular parenting advice out there? Yeah, I know. I’ve been there – sometimes I still am! I have tow strong-willed children and I want to share with you what worked for me. Tips for Managing the Strong-Willed Child.
Disclaimer: I will not pretend to know everything about parenting. I will not be prideful and say I’ve got it all right – trust me, I never did have it all right and I never will. BUT – we are all on the same team, we are all on this parenting journey together and we are called, as Christians, to encourage each other. I’ve got your back and you’ve got mine!
Do you have a strong-willed child? I have 2. Of course, this would come as a complete surprise to most people who have met my 2 youngest kids. But they are both strong-willed.
When I realized my son was strong-willed, I knew I had to do something to help him deal with it. It was my responsibility as his mom to help him manage his strong-will.
It was clear to me that my job was NOT to break his will but to harness it and use it for God’s glory.
So, how have I managed my children’s strong-will? Below are some tips that hopefully will help you and your strong-willed children. But first, let’s briefly look at some things that don’t work for strong-willed kids:
- Corporal punishment rarely works.
- Constant demands that sound unreasonable.
- Yelling – really, yelling is not good for any child, but it seems that it is ‘easier’ for us to yell at the strong-willed ones.
- “My way or the highway” parenting philosophy
- Refrain from using terms such as ‘stubborn’ and ‘difficult’ to describe them.
Let Them Be Heard
I allow my children to have a voice. I think this is a good practice to establish with all children, but especially true for strong-willed kids. If they know they are being heard and understood, they are more likely to be reasonable.
Have A Contest
Try expressing requests as contests instead of constant demands. I find that when I challenge my kids to something that sounds more like a contest against me, I get a much better – and quicker – response from them. For example, instead of telling them to put their clothes away, I say something like, “I bet I can finish sweeping the floor before you can finish putting away your clothes.” Strong-willed kids love challenges – especially if they can beat mom at something! And, yes, I usually let them win.
Offer An Explanation
Explain the reasoning behind requests as often as possible. Strong-willed kids need to know the ‘why’ behind requests, rules, and life. This isn’t something that just goes away when they get older, either. My husband still needs to know the ‘why’. Even young children understand much more than we give them credit for!
Obedience Still Matters
Now, there isn’t always going to be time for a contest or an explanation, right? I have regular discussions with my kids about the importance of obedience. I explain that while I will do my best to make sure I explain the ‘why’ for my requests and such, I won’t be able to explain every time and those are the times when I will need them to just obey without question. When it comes to those times, I remind them that this is one of those times when they have agreed to just obey.
I have also explained to my strong-willed kids that sometimes, in cases of danger or emergencies, I will tell them that it is an emergency and they simply need to obey immediately. When there is more time, I explain why the situation was unsafe or there was an emergency. I now see that because I took these measures early on, I have been able to gain their trust and they are more willing to just obey when the time comes.
While I try to work with my kids, they still must understand that they have the responsibility to obey. Disobedience will have consequences.
Thank you for joining me for Tips for Managing the Strong-Willed Child.
Join me again next week for part two.