Is your child incredibly stubborn and difficult to persuade? Do they know exactly what they want and do they argue with you until they get it? Do you often feel that you’re not the one in control when dealing with them?
Chances are that you are parenting a strong-willed child. These kids can be stubborn and difficult but, they’re also highly self-motivated, are natural-born leaders and they are relentless in getting what they want.
Parenting strong-willed children can be quite challenging at times because there is always a power struggle between the two parties to gain and keep control. However, it’s comforting to know that you can gently and sensibly parent your child without crushing their high spirits or forcing them to be obedient. And, it can be done whilst maintaining respect and discipline in your homes.
Here are five effective parenting strategies that can help you:
- Strong-willed children learn through experience, not by being told what to do.
Strong-willed children are experiential learners and they have to learn things on their own whether things are right or wrong instead of being told. Rather than arguing with them and trying to control them, you can let them try out different things and learn through experience.
- Give them choices and let them make decisions.
Strong-willed children don’t take orders well from others so instead of going through a power struggle each time a decision needs to be made, offer your child choices which you won’t resent later on. This allows them to feel like they are the ones in control and you also get what you want.
- Set rules, limits and routines.
When dealing with high-spirited children, you have to remember that you are the parent. And, that there are some things which only you will have to decide. This includes bedtimes, chores, homework, etc. Try not to set too many rules because that can overwhelm kids or cause them not to comply.
- Try to see things from their perspective.
Strong-willed children naturally demand to be seen, heard and validated. If you constantly argue with them or try to control them, they start shutting down and slowly lose their high-spirited personalities. So, instead of trying to change them, try to see things from their perspective. They aren’t trying to get on your nerves or make your life difficult; it’s just the way they are wired. Try meeting them halfway and empathize with them when they react to things not going their way.
- Stay calm and rational.
Parenting a strong-willed child is difficult but try to think of it as an opportunity to raise a leader, someone who doesn’t easily fall for peer pressure and someone who has a strong moral compass to decide between right and wrong. It’s important to remain calm and rational during a power struggle, even when your child isn’t and then later engage in a healthy conversation about how to compromise and listen. Remember, you are your child’s role model and they will imitate you in how you handle these situations.
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About the Founder
Internationally Recognised Emotional Literacy & Mindfulness Expert Tenille Bentley is the founder of The Emotional Literacy and Mindfulness Academy and the author of the children’s emotional literacy books with Jazzy and Pinky and The Energy Ball. Giving children a wonderful introduction to understanding their emotions and what do with them.
Tenille has been featured on Channel 9 News and other major outlets. Her work has been recognised in the community by The Governor of Western Australia, The Prime Minister of Australia and Australian Financial Review.
As a child she experienced severe anxiety and emotional traumas as well as bullying which left her feeling isolated, and unable to understand why she was feeling the way she did. As an adult this impacted her ability to make healthy decisions because she didn’t have the tools to understand her emotions.
Which is why she is passionate about equipping parents with the tools to support their children to make better decisions in life and healthy ones to help support and create a balanced home life.