We’ve all heard of a strong-willed child, but no one can know what it entails until you’ve parented one yourself. If you are the parent of a strong-willed child, you already know it’s a complicated situation to be in. When your child communicates, they will want to do things their way.
Strong-willed children are often called determined, stubborn, willful, headstrong, and so much more. While these terms often are viewed negatively, the characteristic could be a positive aspect of the child’s life. By following a few tips for determined kids, you can find ways to make it work for both of you.
A tenacious child challenges authority from the beginning of their life. They want to bend the rules and make things happen their way. However, the experience doesn’t have to be negative, and you can forget about the negative stigma attached to it.
Many people believe that stubborn kids aren’t well-behaved, but that’s not true. By adjusting your parenting to accommodate their willfulness, you’ll experience the benefits of having a determined child. You’ll help them grow and develop into someone who uses their determination for the greater good.
What Is a Strong-Willed Child?
A headstrong child has a strong sense of independence, beginning in their toddler years. The child will be confident and self-assured, and it could manifest as strong opinions and defiant behavior, too. They are persistent and can’t divert their attention once they set their mind on something.
All kids will exhibit these behaviors at times, but a headstrong child will be that way all the time. While some of their qualities might seem discouraging, you can find comfort in many aspects. These kids are often self-motivated and go after what they want, and they don’t give in to peer pressure.
Other benefits are that they have integrity, can’t easily be swayed, and often become leaders. Studies show that kids labeled as defiant tend to become more financially successful as adults.
Their courage allows them to jump in and learn things for themselves. They can’t accept what other people say, so they test things repeatedly to see what happens.
Headstrong kids are passionate, and when they set their heart on something, they can’t easily let go. They keep trying even when the task seems futile, and they experience intense emotions. These children have the mindset to focus on what they want and work hard to make it happen.
However, the key to reaping the benefits is that you must learn gentle but effective ways to parent your strong-willed child. With the correct methods, you can cope with raising a headstrong child. Then, your child can use their determination for something beneficial.
Parenting Tips for Those Coping with a Strong-Willed Child
Try these hints for coping with your headstrong little one.
1. Show Empathy and Respect to Your Strong-Willed Child
When raising a strong-willed child, the experience can feel defeating. You’ll make demands only to have your child openly defy what you say, eventually turning to meltdowns and tantrums. The key is to remember that your child has the same emotions you do, but they don’t know how to handle them yet.
You don’t like having people bark orders at you or tell you what to do and how to do it. Kids don’t like it either, but they’re urged to give in. However, headstrong kids aren’t as willing to comply with every demand all day long.
Rather than getting frustrated with your child for wanting to tell you their opinion, try listening instead. By listening calmly, you can understand why your child is defying you. Finding out their reasoning is the best way to create a plan that’ll work for both of you.
When kids feel respected and see you treating them respectfully, they’ll learn to do it, too. Not only does showing empathy and respect lead to fewer meltdowns, but it also teaches them how to treat others. The main goal is to treat them how you want others to treat you.
2. Listen to Them
It’s essential to listen to your child even when you think you know best. Headstrong kids have strong viewpoints that lead them to their feelings and opinions. Their viewpoints are also the reason they won’t change their mind quickly.
Rather than getting frustrated with your child for wanting to tell you their opinion, try listening instead. By listening calmly, you can understand why your child is defying you. Finding out their reasoning is the best way to develop a plan that’ll work for both of you.
Sometimes you’ll find that you did something to upset them, even though you don’t see the problem. Once your child explains it to you, you can talk about what happened. Be sure to apologize if you can see their point of view on why you made them upset.
3. Identify Common Power Struggles and Triggers
With headstrong kids, power struggles are unavoidable and might seemingly come out of nowhere. Whether you have a toddler throwing a tantrum, a teenager backtalking, or anything in between, identifying the triggers can help. Power struggles and causes are different in everyone, so pinpointing what makes your child upset is essential.
Pay attention to when the power struggles occur. Even if you don’t see it right away, there are likely some similarities each time. It could be about getting dressed in the morning or getting their homework done. Whatever the trigger is, you must identify it as soon as possible.
Once you’ve identified the power struggles and triggers, you can adjust to make the situation work. Come up with a plan that gets the task done but allows your child to feel a sense of control.
4. Come Up with a Routine That Works for Your Strong-Willed Child
Bedtime routines are typical, but you can create one for any part of the day. If you notice that a particular time of day is hard on your child, switch things up and find a routine that works. Kids thrive on routine, and they are especially beneficial for headstrong kids.
The predictability of what will happen next puts the child’s mind at ease and avoids everyday power struggles. When the child knows what to expect each time, they won’t throw fits or refuse to do it as often. Be consistent so that your child quickly catches onto what to expect next.
5. Give Them Some Control
When your child feels like they have power over a situation, they are more likely to accept it. They won’t push back as much because they get to choose what’s coming next.
Think about some aspects of your child’s life that you’re willing to hand over control in. Then, tell your child that you’re letting them take control of those parts of their lives.
Giving them some control encourages positivity and better behavior. You can let your child choose their clothes for the day, pack their lunch, or extend their curfew a little. The areas you loosen up on will depend on the age and maturity of your child, so don’t follow what anyone else does.