Tips on Raising a Strong-Willed Child

Being the parent of a strong-willed child might seem like quite the challenge, but according to clinical psychologist Laura Markham, your strong-willed child is a blessing 1. What you see as a stubborn and frustrating personality today is going to become a confident, powerful personality in the future. Provided you raise your strong-willed child with the right combination of compassion, sensitivity and expectation, you are setting your child up for a bright future 1.

Speak Less, Act More

According to the University of Alabama’s Parenting Assistance Line, when you spend too much time talking to your strong-willed child, you run the risk of frustrating him and losing his attention 1. When you instruct him to do something or to behave in a more appropriate manner, keep it short and sweet. The more frustrated and annoyed you get while instructing him, the more he feeds off of your energy and the more conflict ensues.

Strong-willed Children Need Choices

Your strong-willed child needs to feel he has control over her life, advises Markham 1. As her parent, your job is to provide her with a little freedom to control her own life while still maintaining control yourself. She’s more likely to follow the rules and avoid conflict if she thinks she’s in control. For example, if you want her to get dressed for school, she’s more likely to do it if she’s wearing what she wants to wear rather than what you want her to wear. If you’re really concerned about her lack of fashion sense, you can pick out two outfits and ask her to choose the one she wants to wear.

Enforce the Consequences

Strong-willed children are likely to believe that their way is the best way and they often try to exert their power. According to the University of Alabama’s Parenting Assistance Line, one way to ensure that your strong-willed child follows the rules and stays out of trouble is to enforce the consequences 1. By not allowing his stubborn behavior to derail the rules and expectations you’ve set, you are showing her that not abiding by the rules results in punishment. When you don’t follow-through, your strong-willed child will use her will to talk her way out of punishment in the future 1.

Let Him Have his Own Feelings

One thing strong-willed children dislike is being told they are wrong. Their beliefs are what they consider correct and valid, which means you need to let them hold onto those no matter how much you disagree, advises Markham. For example, when you have rules in your household and your child doesn’t view them as fair, don’t tell him he’s wrong. Instead, tell him you respect that he feels they are unfair based on his own reasoning but that as the parent you believe they are fair. He’s free to believe they are unfair all he wants, but that doesn’t mean he can disobey them.