You taught your child a step-by-step process for successfully doing something specific, but they are jumping a few steps but completing the task with ease. You even heard their math teacher say that your child is jumping steps when solving math problems. Also, the little one is pretty persistent about choosing their dresses or coming up with ideas for school projects.
Are you sure that you don’t have a strong willed child?
Of course, kids are quite feisty and stong-willed in general. But strong willed children or spirited children are one step ahead. They want to do things on their own terms and have their own ways. It is almost as if sheer stubbornness is working like a working force to make them act this wary. Although it is mostly good, parents and teachers might often find it frustrating to deal with these children.
That is what this article is for. In this article, I have detailed different signs of finding out if you have a strong willed child and positive tips for parenting them.
Common Characteristics Of A Strong Willed Child
Before coming to a conclusion about your child, check if they show these characteristics in them.
They Are Assertive
Children with strong will have a particular vision about one thing in their minds. They like to incorporate and have that done in any way possible. They would go to any extent to get their vision into reality and will not stop from telling an adult what should be done for that to happen.
They Will Not Do, If They Don’t Want To Do It
Strong willed children can be stubborn. It is difficult to make them do something that they do not want to do themselves. Forcing them or being rude to them doesn’t work. You have to be creative and find ways in which you can make them do things for you. Set some rules and have some boundaries that have to be followed, and make those things clear to them in ways they will listen.
They Have Outbursts (Anger-Issues)
It is normal for children to throw tantrums, but with a strong willed child, things are different. They show intense anger which does not subside easily. They often have low or zero tolerance for changes and transitions. They do not adapt well to changes. Their anger and frustration are often overwhelming, and it is important to teach them how to channel their anger in proper ways, and in the right direction.
Patience Is Not Their Strong Point
Strong willed kids are not very patient, they do not like to wait for things. Be it anything like being in line to get on the ride, or in line for the billing counter, or waiting at the doctor’s chamber. They are impatient and want things done their way. They have an idea of how things should be and they would dictate ways for that to happen.
It is important for the parents to notice these traits and know ways in which they can be tackled outside their homes. It is the duty of the parent to let them know about the value of patience. They might need some incentives, and rewards if you want to make them do something for you, or behave in a certain way.
Making Their Own Rules
As a parent, you might find it difficult to handle your strong-willed child, as they won’t listen or give in easily. They will only listen to those who they think are their role models and have respect for them. They like to make their own rules, but there should be limits to that as well just like any other child.
Do I Have A Strong Willed Child?
Children are born with different personality traits and innate tendencies, and behavioral patterns. These tendencies are called a child’s temperament. Your child can very well have a strong willed temperament. They often have some temperamental difficulties, which make them hard to handle.
A Strong willed child may often have a high emotional reaction compared to other children. Since they are children and still unskilled to regulate their emotions, they find it hard to regulate their emotions and feelings. So, it is common for these children to react during difficult times.
They seem pretty determined children, and they are quite independent in their thoughts and ideas. However, their strong will might often surface as stubbornness and disobedience. A significant trait of these kids is to stand up for their ideas and beliefs. They are innovative and have strong leadership skills. However, sensitive parents might often struggle to parent children of this type.
How To Parent A Strong Willed Child?
But, it is possible to parent these children by channeling their anger and stubbornness to do something positive. Here are some signs of strong willed children and ways to deal with them.
1. Problem: Anger Outbursts & Tantrums
Throwing temper tantrums are often a trump card children play to get what they want. However, strong willed children find it hard to express their emotions and anger and might resort to anger outbursts instead of any socially appropriate manner. Sometimes you might be in the box about what set them off.
⁍ Solution: Acknowledge Their Feelings
Maybe the child has asked for something, and you were not able to get it for them at that moment. But the best course of action would be acknowledging how they feel about it. It is the middle of the night, and you cannot take them to the park as you promised you would once you return from work.
Now your child is throwing a tantrum over it, and it is quite the theatrics. In such cases, you should never minimize their feeling. Instead, try to listen to and understand their feelings.
2. Problem: Always Asking ‘Why?’
“Why can’t I go to Rob’s place?” your strong willed child prefers the WH questions starting with ‘why.’ Replaying with ‘because I said so’ or ‘I don’t know’ does not do any good to such questions. Instead, it makes the whole thing difficult. But how do you deal with such questions?
⁍ Solution: Give Them A Brief Explanation
You have a good reason for denying their request, so use it and make it a brief one. Instead of imposing your authority over them by answering like “because I said so,” give your child a clear and brief explanation. You can go for something like ‘Rob’s house is 10 km away, and we don’t have any bus at this time of the day
3. Problem: Stubborn Arguments
Power struggle does not work for all kids. Sometimes children are stubborn about certain disagreements or arguments. They might often surprise you with their debating skills. It is possible for them to draw examples from the past that conflict with the statement or idea you are expressing now. For example, you might be saying that it is unhealthy to eat ice cream in the morning; and they will draw examples of “that one time…”
⁍ Solution: Provide Them With A Warning Or Consequence
It is ok to pamper your child. But if you want to restrain them and direct them to follow the rules in the future, give them a warning. You can also tell them about the consequences of their actions. For example, if they don’t stop now, they are not allowed to watch TV for the rest of the day. You can also remove certain privileges like time-out or similar.
4. Problem: Bossy Nature
Strong willed children outline a vision regarding how things around them are and how they want them to be. They would often come up with ideas to turn their ideas into reality. They can often direct how others (even adults) should behave.
⁍ Solution: Ask For A Do-Over
So, your kid is bossy and keeps ordering you around. For example, they might say, “dad, give me that remote,” and “open the bottle.” In such a situation, you can call them for a do-over. For example, you can say, “ that’s not how you ask for something,” and teach them the proper manner of having such a conversation. This should give you the opportunity to teach them about being respectful to others.
5. Refusing To Comply
You cannot talk a strong willed child into doing something they don’t want to do willfully. They will act like a mountain that won’t even budge no matter how much you beg, nag, or, request.
⁍ Solution: Make Them Choose
Strong willed children usually will not comply with you. However, if you gave them two different choices to choose from, they might accept your direction. For example, if you say, “clean your table now,” they might not comply with it. But you can give them a choice and put it this way – “are you cleaning your table now or within ten minutes?” This will make them comply since they love to choose.
6. Problem: Impatience
A strong willed child doesn’t like to wait in line. They will not wait for the team to let them bet during a cricket match. They also hate to stand in line for the billing to get done at the grocery store. They don’t like waiting around for someone else.
⁍ Solution: Encourage Patience
It is important to learn the lessons of patience (just like Captain America said.) Being patient is a part of life, and your child needs to learn that. In the meantime, you can help them solve the problem by offering choices and other activities. For example, ask them things like, “do you want to solve this Rubik’s cube as we wait in line for billing?”
7. Problem: Having Their Own Terms
Children with strong will take their own decisions without second-guessing and make their own rules. They don’t abide by any authority or certain individual that rules over them.
⁍ Solutions: Minimize Rules
Power struggle with strong-willed children usually does not take you to a reasonable outcome, so it is better to drop it. Too many rules often overwhelm them so stick to only the necessary ones. Let them face the natural consequences and have examples of not abiding by your advice. For example, if they don’t want to use the umbrella even when it is hot outside, you should not insist. When they feel that the sun is too hot, they will use it themselves in the future.
8. Problem: Entitlement
A strong willed child often struggles to differentiate between their needs and wants. They want the bigger piece of the pizza and to play football out in the rain. Their claim is that they need it. However, they still might think that giving them a small and a big piece of pizza was not fair (even if they were getting two pieces). Yes, they are very much concerned about everything being fair, although things are happening on their own terms.
⁍ Solution: Use Consequences, But Use Rewards More
Consequences might not work all the time. But rewarding their good behaviors might often persuade them to display good behaviors and improve their understanding. For example, you can say, “If you study now, you get to watch cartoons in the evening.”
9. Problem: Selective Hearing
A strong willed child only follows your direction if they are interested or if it suits their needs. They have a tendency to tune out of things that don’t adjust to their needs.
⁍ Solution: Mean What You Say
When they ignore certain directions you have given to them, you should essentially stick to your word and follow through with the promised consequence. When there is ignorance, you have to step in to address it and show them the consequence. If you have said to take away their privileges, you should do so when they ignore to listen to you. This way, they will learn that you mean what you say and say what you mean.
10. Problem: Having Their Own Pace
Kids with a strong willed personality would often walk fast, run, or talk faster at their own will. But when directed to do something they are not interested in, they have the pace of a snail.
⁍ Solution: Clear Out the Exceptions
As a parent or guardian, you should specify what outlines the constitution of good behavior. You should also detail the consequences of breaking certain rules. You can solve this problem by setting expectations and following through with consequences when ignored. For example, you are going somewhere, and you want your child to be ready in ten minutes. So, if there is a breach of the rule, you should follow it with the consequence you explained earlier.
Bonus Tips for Parents With Strong Willed Children
Following the solutions mentioned before should help parents solve certain (common) problems of dealing with children with a strong will. However, Here are some additional tips for further help. Some of these tips are very similar to the solution to specific problems related to raising such children. But having a general understanding of the following tips should make it easier for the parents.
1. Set Clear Boundaries And Expectations
Strong-willed children often push boundaries, so it’s important to establish clear rules and expectations from the start. Make sure your child understands the consequences of breaking the rules, and be consistent with enforcing them.
2. Use Positive Reinforcement
Strong willed children are not downright bad children. They also do positive things (but in their own interest). As a parent, you can encourage them by praising them. Praise your child when they do something right, and offer rewards for good behavior. This will encourage them to continue behaving well.
3. Stay Calm And Patient
It does not do any good to show your authoritative power over a minor strong wild child. In fact, it does the complete opposite. When your child is acting out, it can be easy to get frustrated or angry. However, this will only escalate the situation. Stay calm and patient, and try to understand where your child is coming from.
4. Offer Empathy
Strong-willed children often have strong emotions, and it’s important to acknowledge and validate their feelings. Offer empathy and support, and help them find ways to manage their emotions in a healthy way.
5. Give Them Space
Strong-willed children need space to explore and learn on their own. Give them opportunities to make their own choices and mistakes, but be there to support and guide them when needed.
6. Model Good Behavior
Children learn by example, so model the behavior you want to see in your child. If you want them to be respectful and kind, show them how it’s done
In conclusion, strong-willed children can be challenging, but with patience, understanding, and a little bit of creativity, it’s possible to parent them effectively. Remember to set clear boundaries and expectations, give choices, use positive reinforcement, stay calm and patient, offer empathy, give them space, listen to them, and model good behavior.
If you follow the solutions provided for specific behaviors of such children, it will be easier to understand and handle them. I hope that this article was educative. However, if you have any further queries, please reach out to us in the comment section.
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