7 Ideas for raising a strong-willed child

by Katrina - The Organised Housewife

Do you have a strong-willed child? Not sure? They can challenge you and cause frustration, here are a few strategies when raising a strong-willed child.

Young children can push all your buttons but as they get to their teenage years and into adulthood, they will become confident, responsible, and independent members of society.

You often hear people describe their strong-willed child as stubborn or difficult. There is a difference:

  • a stubborn child may be immature and doesn’t want to listen simply because they enjoy frustrating people.
  • a strong-willed child likes to succeed and be strong and doesn’t like to give up on what they believe to be right, they are determined individuals and have a lot of drive.

You can see strong will in a child from baby stage. You can have a baby who is trying to stand and keep trying until they are standing firm whereas another child might try a few times and give up and go back to crawling. Another example of a strong-willed child is a beginner reader. They will come across a word they don’t know and keep trying to sound it out until they can make sense of it. It might take a while, but they persist and often, don’t want your help. Other kids may just give up and skip the word altogether.

How do you even begin to parent a strong-willed child without losing your mind? You’re not alone! Here are a few strategies to help you raise your strong-willed children.

1. Tame the bossiness

Strong-willed children know what they want and aren’t afraid to make it happen, even if it means unknowingly hurting their friends’ feelings by telling them what to do and when to do it in play-based situations. If we can, stop them in that moment, and teach them to be more respectful and kinder to others. It will take commitment and patience, but if you are consistent, your child will start to take it all on board.

2. Teach emotions to overcome frustrations

A strong-willed child can lash out and have angry outbursts simply because they have become annoyed or frustrated. By helping them recognise the emotions they are feeling and validate them by letting them know you understand, you can let your child know they are being heard and understood. By teaching your child to recognise their emotions, you’re setting them up to recognise them right away and work on dealing with them. This will take time and patience because young children are still learning what emotions are and how they present.

3. Wanting a reason for everything

A strong-willed child will not be satisfied with an answer such as “because I said so” or “I don’t know” or “just because”. They question everything around them and by providing a simple explanation, you can help put their mind at ease. Their mind is naturally curious, and they want to know how things work and or why they aren’t allowed to do something. There will be times you don’t know the answer, but it may be helpful to let your child know you can find out together.

4. Avoiding power struggles

A strong-willed child enjoys debating, getting in the last word, and not agreeing an answer to a question they have asked even if it’s correct. If you let them, they can go on and on so it’s up to you while they’re young to know when to put the brakes on a conversation or argument. Let your child know you can both revisit the conversation when you are both calmer. Remember, pick your battles, not everything is worth a long, drawn-out argument. As your child gets older, they will learn they can’t argue about everything and at times, things just are what they are.

5. Create boundaries

Strong-willed children need clear boundaries at home. They need to know there are boundaries and they are there to protect them and give them a clear understanding of what is expected of them. They need to know what they can do and what they can’t do. Boundaries create a sense of belonging. They will try and push these boundaries at times, and you will need to revisit situations but if you stay firm and be consistent, your child will respect the boundaries and you.

6. Nurture their independence by giving them responsibility

Strong willed children love feeling independent and responsible for things around them. We can help by giving them responsibility at home such as chores or helping with dinner.

Keep jobs age-appropriate and understand they might not do them perfectly to begin with but with time and lots of practice, they will get better. A strong-willed child needs to feel significant so when they do jobs, give them gentle praise, letting them know you see the effort they are putting in.

7. Give them attention

A strong-willed child wants to be heard and listened to. They have so many ideas and so much to talk about and could feel unworthy or unloved if you don’t take time out to connect and be present with them. We all lead busy lives and at times are on the go all day, but you can connect with your child in many way – while you’re in the car, grocery shopping, making dinner or even at bedtime when everyone is winding down. You will notice how satisfied your child is simply by having your attention for a few minutes.

The biggest influence on strong-willed children are their parents. They want your reassurance. They want your acknowledgement and most importantly they need to know they are loved. With your patience and guidance, you can create responsible, engaged, and independent adults.

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