The truth about a strong willed child, is they don’t always see your viewpoint. This is not necessarily a bad thing. This means they can’t be easily swayed to change. But, it can easily turn into a power struggle. What’s most important is that your child, feels like you understand them.
Try empathizing with your child and offer them choices. If they refuse to go to bed, offer to read a bedtime story or remind them their favorite stuffed animal is waiting in their room for them. Try to create the win/win scenario with your child. Pick and choose your arguments carefully. For your child it’s about integrity. Try to bring understanding into the argument. Let them know why they shouldn’t pick on their younger sibling. It hurts their feelings. You can always play with them later.
Now, that you have children your life has changed drastically. It’s alright to let your child know that. Just make sure you let them know, that you still care and love them. Part of parenting is discipline, but it’s also trying to create understanding.
Here are 10 things every parent needs to know about a strong willed child:
- Make sure to take their age into consideration. When they are younger they will rely on you more, and not be able to do as much for themselves.
- Where are they in the sibling lineup? The oldest child tends to be more bossy. Whereas the younger child, may be more easy going. This actually happens a lot. There are good reasons for this. Often times, parents expect more for the oldest.
- Integrity is important to them. When they feel their integrity is compromised, they will become defensive. This is where you want to try to build understanding. If they are old enough, let them know why you are doing what you are doing.
- They want to feel independent. This is why they don’t like to be reminded to brush their teeth. When this happens, give them the short list. Every morning we brush our teeth, eat breakfast, get dressed, etc.
- They need you to listen to them. They actually care a lot about how you feel about them. Meaning they want to please you. Make sure you set aside time to listen and validate them.
- They need to feel respected. When your child feels respected, they won’t feel they need to fight with you. A lot of the time this is what they are fighting for.
- They need structure. When children know what is expected from them, they behave better.
- They need to feel they also have a say in the family. This is another way they feel respected. Don’t just say you like their ideas, try their ideas. So what, if it isn’t perfect. Your child will love you for it.
- Let them have their own experience. Most strong willed children are experiential learners. So, when you ask them to stay away from the stove because it is hot. They may just try to go near it. As long as no one gets hurt, let them try it out.
- Everything is perfect, exactly the way it is. Your strong willed child is supposed to fight you in the younger years. And, you are supposed to help them regulate their emotions.
I always say a good parent, is a parent that makes mistakes. Just learn from the mistake, and try to repair it. This will let your strong willed child know it’s alright to make mistakes. This is one of the best lessons you can teach your child.
Lianne Avila is a Licensed Marriage Family Therapist, in San Mateo, CA. She loves working with children, and would be glad to help your strong willed child. For more information, please call or email (650) 892-0357 or Lianne@LessonsforLove.com.