Being the parent of a strong-willed girl may occasionally cause you additional stress, worry and panic. Strong-willed girls are stubborn, and they know what they want, whether they are 3 or 13. Before you start wishing that your daughter would be calmer or more willing to accept things as they are, consider that with her strong-willed personality, she’s going places. She may be difficult now, but she’s very likely to one day take the world by storm and live a satisfying life. In the meantime, however, you need to acquire the skills it takes to deal with her.
Learn to love her stubborn personality, advises pediatrician and author, Dr. Meg Meeker. For example, when you’re trying to get her to bed and she’s refusing to lie down, turning your typical 15-minute bedtime routine into an hour-long process, take a couple of deep breaths and find a way to embrace her stubbornness and turn it into a positive trait. You can do this by making bedtime a challenge. Her stubborn personality will likely have her wanting to meet and beat your challenge, so tell her you don’t think she can finish her bedtime routine and be beneath the covers with her eyes closed for the rest of the night by the time the clock says it is bedtime.
Allow her to master her own life as often as possible, recommends Dr. Laura Markham, clinical psychologist and mother. To do this, you simply have to give her the power to control her own schedule and routine when appropriate. For example, if you’re getting ready to leave the house before school and you notice she forgot to put her homework in her backpack, ask her if she did everything she needed to do before school rather than telling her she needs to load her backpack. When it’s her idea to do something, she’s more willing to do it.
Let her have the power to decide what she wears on her own body, when appropriate, advises Dr. Markham. Obviously, you won’t allow her to wear her bathing suit to school in the middle of the worst winter blizzard of the season, but if she refuses to wear her mittens, don’t push her. Instead, give her a simple shrug and running commentary about how cold it is outside and how you are wearing your mittens because you don’t want your hands to freeze. Pack her mittens even though she refuses to wear them, so that when she decides she does want them, you have them.
Discipline her bad behavior, not her personality, advises author and doctor, Dr. James Dobson. When your daughter misbehaves, always be certain that your discipline and punishment are for her actions and not her personality. For example, if she chooses not to clean her room after you’ve asked her several times, tell her that you are punishing her because she chose to behave badly rather than telling her she’s being punished because she’s a bad girl. This slight difference in wording helps her understand that you don’t think her personality is bad, but that her decision was bad.