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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

How to Deal With a Strong Willed Child.


Parents of strong willed children, I really sympathize with you. I, too, have a strong willed child and some days I just want to give up and throw in the towel and let him just run the house and then there are other days when I'm ready to spar with him until he gives in because we're both stubborn and want to be the one who wins.

Our battles can be over anything, really. We might argue over whether this font color is blue, green, or gray or argue over whether tomato is pronounced tuh-mate-o or toe-mah-toe and EVEN IF, we realize one of us is wrong, it will take a long time for us to admit it, if we do at all.

It has been frustrating in the past and even though being strong willed is something that we can both work on together to change the world from weird to good, it is still a lot of work.


A strong willed child can accomplish just about anything they set their minds to, so it's important, as parents, to nurture that will instead of squashing it down.

I've been watching a lot of Vampire Diaries, so this is the first example that comes to my mind, but if you watch this show, Damon Salvatore appears to be the evil character in the first part of the show. Once he sets his mind to something, he does it.

When you see his back story, you see that he's had a lot of bad things happen to him and so he seeks revenge. However, you also see that when things are going well and he's been nurtured and cared for, he'd do just about anything to help his best friends.





Strong Willed Child


I empathize with the strong willed child. I was the strong willed child in my family. I used to hear all of the time, "Someday, you'll have a child who will grow up to be just like you or worse!" and that day has come true, I have a strong willed child. There is a mini-me in my house who likes to test my patience, who sees how far he can push to get what he wants, who thinks that he can make the rules.

My mini-me and I butt heads often and have you ever tried to patiently handle a strong willed child when you too, are strong willed? It's hard!

We used to really work on his behavior at home and at school. We had to meet with his social worker and come up with a behavior plan so we could be on the same page. Thankfully, there were resources that he could use to help him with his social behavior.

Example: Whenever my son would start to get loud, (because we're passionate people) instead of calling him out in front of the classroom and embarrassing him (we strong willed people can be sensitive to being told to do something in front of others) the teacher would raise two fingers up as an agreed sign that he needed to lower his voice. If he was called out, a tantrum would be made.

Related- Raising Our Children: Accountability Between the Parents and School




The 7 Stages of a Strong Willed Child


Thankfully,  there are ways to work around that tantrum, and the biggest part of doing that is knowing the routine, how your child feels, and why they react that way. When you're a strong willed child, you get angry that a parent or teacher would have the audacity to think about disciplining you. You go through the same stages as one would do with grief:
  • Disbelief- First, you can't believe it, you deny that anything happens. (After all, we're always right.) This will get your strong willed child in more trouble when you are on your last stretch of patience. They'll start saying, "I didn't do anything wrong! What did I do?"
  • Denial-  "I don't belong in time out (or whatever discipline is being given to them.) I didn't do it. It was "...'s" fault.
  • Bargaining- They think that they can control the outcome of the situation. I'm sure this is the part where my mom would want to shake me or pictured me getting slapped silly. I would tell my mom, "This isn't how my teacher does it. You're doing it wrong. I think I should sit in a chair. I am only doing this for a minute. Fine, I'll do this, but I'm going to do it this way..." You get the point.
  • Anger- This is where I would start name calling and be outraged that my mother didn't cave in, yet. It is SO important that parent's don't give in. Once you do, your child will know that they own you. It won't get better until you are consistent again.
  • Grief-  Your child will probably start to cry. They know that you are going to hold your ground and that they will need to face that time out or that other discipline.
  • Acceptance- This is when your child has accepted the fact that they will need to do time out or whatever punishment that is given to them. I usually will set a timer for my child and tell him that he knows what he needs to do. I hand him the timer to start it. Every time that he talks, I will push the stop button and it is up to him to restart it. He knows that he will need to be quiet again in order for it to start again. 
  • Guilt- I would realize that while I was serving my time out or spending time in my room alone, that I was wrong. For my children, in order for them to get out of time out, they have to say they are sorry and ask for forgiveness in order to get out. Saying sorry, is sometimes the hardest part of the punishment. Sometimes, this is when the bargaining comes back out. With a strong willed child, the process might start over again because this is the time that I might start getting mouthy again.


How Do You Work Around It?


1. Learn What Triggers Your Child- Why is your child behaving that way? Are they tired? Did you misunderstand them? Is their sock falling inside their shoe?

Identify the trigger and then see what you can do to help. It could be as simple as relaxing, asking them to explain what they meant, or going barefoot.

2. Listen to Yourself- Sometimes we don't realize how we sound. If you're tired, you can sound like you're disinterested or mad. Adjust your tone and body language to something more cheery. You know how you feel when you see Beatrice Resting*insertnaughtyword*face. If she looked cross-eyed at you, wouldn't you feel a little defensive, too?

3. Come Up With A Discipline Plan Together- Tell your child what your expectations are. Let them know that they're still growing and learning and there will be times when they might get in trouble and it might result in taking away electronics or sitting in a time-out. Let them come up with that plan.

I had a friend who said that her dad sat her and her brothers down and together they wrote a contract and they each had to sign it. They knew that if they hit a sibling, it wouldn't be tolerated and so as per the agreement, they would do a time out or something from the list that they agreed upon depending on the crime.

4. Reassess the Situation- Is it really as bad as you first thought? Are you being too sensitive? 

My kids are at the age when they try to make their own jokes and we've got some pretty sarcastic/dry sense of humor people in our family, so our kids try to model that. Sometimes, my son will tell me a joke or flat out lie about something thinking that he's just being funny and I don't realize that right away. 

I'll get mad and then once my husband chimes in saying that it was a joke, I'll realize that too. Then I have to apologize and then teach my child a different way to deliver his punchline.  

5. Ask Them Questions- Use If/Then questions so they feel like they have a little control over the situation. 

Example:

  • If you hit your brother, then you will get a time out. Is that something you'd like to do?
  • If you yell at your friend, then they might not want to be friends with you anymore. Do you want that to happen?
  • Are you sure that you want to throw things because you're mad? You might break something valuable to you and you'll have to clean up the mess later. 
You can also use them to reinforce good behavior.

Example:

  • If you do your homework now, then you will have more time to watch tv later. 
  • If you eat your vegetables, then you can have dessert. 

Doing this sets up expectations, but it also gets them in habit of thinking for themselves and by doing this, they also gain a little bit of control, and that's what strong willed people really want.

6. Give Them Some Breathing Room

Sometimes, we just want our space. Give us time to stew and eventually we'll come to the realization that maybe we were being a little ornery. Maybe we'll apologize, maybe we won't, but don't make us do it because we'll chew your head off.


 Conclusion


Being strong willed can be such a good thing. We can get things done that others can't. You'll find many of us as leaders or motivational speakers because we don't take no for an answer. 

There can also be a downside to being strong willed, too. We can seem harsh or out of control. If we don't learn how to properly handle our anger or stubbornness, we can put a strain on the relationships around us.

This is why it's SOOO important to not give in to your child's every whim. Learn how to redirect them and use it for good so our future isn't run by babies. 

Do you have a strong willed child? Are you, yourself strong willed? What advice would you give to parents?

Have a great day and please share if you found value in this post!


32 comments:

  1. My daughter is a strong willed child. It can be tough, but I am glad she speaks her mind. It just can be exhausting for me. These are some good tips!

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    1. It can be so exhausting, but our kids are going to do great things if they learn when to wield their strong will. haha.

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  2. I can't imagine myself dealing with a strong willed kid, it is difficult and requires strong communication skills. Great tips.

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    1. Some days it can be tough, especially the days when they want to argue over everything, but they have so much passion and care deeply about things. You'd be lucky to have one.

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  3. I'm literally going to print this out and carry it with me. My little who is 6 tests me good!

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    1. Sometimes they just need space and in those moments that he/she tests you, ask yourself what you'd want if you were in their shoes. Handling a strong-willed child a lot of times is just understanding them.

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  4. Strong will in children is a positive side especially with the passing of life, of events ... so it is something that helps to bring to objective terms ...

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    1. Oh I agree! A lot of us are so strong willed because we are passionate about the things that we believe in. If nurtured, we could accomplish great things, but if ignored, misunderstood, or battered, it could lead to a mediocre life of not caring or revenge.

      I in no means meant that we should burnout that light.

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  5. Wow these are excellent tips! I never thought of a lot of this so thanks so much for sharing!

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  6. These are some amazing parenting tips, Brittany! I'm going to be applying these methods to both my kids. My son is pretty strong willed and his sister is always trying to copy him.

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  7. These sound like some wonderful tips for parents of a strong willed child, I can imagine at times it is so challenging!

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    1. It can be challenging, but they can be the most kind and compassionate kids, too.

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  8. I equally have a strong-willed child. Granted, it's tough atimes, but I find myself laughing most times because I see myself in him. I've learned to pick my battles and better communicate.

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    Replies
    1. Picking battles is definitely something I still struggle with because we both have to have the last word. haha.

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  9. This is a great way for parents to handle strong willed children. Great info!!

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  10. Strong-willed children can be such a handful. I love that you dove into the processes rather than what every other post says about it.

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  11. It can be tough to raise a strong-willed child! I think that once parents understand their children, it will become easier to actually sit down and discuss even the codes of conduct.

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  12. Thank you for such great tips!! My daughter is 3, she isn’t strong willed but that can change at anytime!! So I will keep these tips in mind!!

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  13. Thank for sharing this yes I have two kids dealing with them is not that easy. Daughter is strong willed one I know what you mentioned here.

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    Replies
    1. Sometimes parenting takes a village. Many times we just need to pay attention to what makes our kids tick.

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  14. My niece is a strong willed child and it is never easy for me. Thank you for the tips, I could really use these.

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    1. My youngest is strong willed, too and it can be so difficult to get him to behave with other people. He ALWAYS stick his tongue out and growls at grandpa.

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  15. Dealing with a strong willed child definitely has its trials. I have a toddler, so he is always very strong willed in what he wants. These are some great tips and ways to help along the way. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. The good news is that parenting does get easier, especially if you build trusting relationships with your kids. I've found that my relationship with my oldest is strongest when I take time to listen to his needs.

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  16. The story of my life. I'm the mother of two strong willed, stubborn teenagers. Thanks God they are both athletes and good boys!

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    1. That's awesome! I think the biggest thing about being strong willed, is that strong willed people are passionate about what they do. It looks like your boys are channeling it to good things. :)

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Hello! My name is Brittany and I'm a writer, obviously. As a stay-at-home mom, there are many things that I have to figure out in order to run a house that appears to be more sane than insane. It's not easy to be a parent and I hope that this blog is able to encourage other moms out there to live life happily and to understand that there can be mishaps along the way, but those mishaps don't define you and anything can be overcome with perseverance and will.

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