After giving birth, you tend to get an idea in your head of how parenting is going to go. You imagine how this perfect little human will turn out, what they will be when they grow up and how you’re going to teach them all the important things in life. It’s a blissful, magical time full of endless possibilities. That is of course, until your little dreamy bubble is ripped apart by constant tantrums, very little sleep and you slowly start to lose the will to live.
Children come in all shapes, sizes and personalities. While parenting any child can be challenging enough, raising a strong-willed child is one of the most difficult, sanity testing experiences you’ll ever go through. All of the discipline techniques you’re told are guaranteed to work such as the “naughty step”, fail miserably, regardless of how persistent you are. And as for sleep, wait, what’s that? 😉
If you’re just about ready to give up, pack your bags and disappear onto a remote desert island to escape this terror, stop. The answer is to learn to embrace your strong-willed child. So how exactly can you do that when you’re practically pulling your hair out in frustration?
Stop Trying To Change Your Child
A lot of the advice you’ll come across on how to discipline your strong-willed child is focused upon changing their personality. This is also the main reason why this advice tends to fail. You cannot change them, and in fact, attempting to do so could cause them to rebel further. Instead, you’re just going to continue to get more and more frustrated, feeling hopeless because nothing is working.
Strong spirited children aren’t just going to suddenly calm down into well-behaved, mild-mannered angels. It’s a personality trait that’s going to remain right throughout adulthood. So rather than focusing upon changing their personality, focus instead on the best ways to work with it.
Redirect Their Stubbornness
Stubbornness is a common trait in strong-willed children and it’s actually something that’s going to help them succeed when they grow up. Rather than fighting against it, learn to redirect the stubbornness and challenge their ability.
Do you often fight with your little one when it comes to getting them dressed? If they’re strong-willed, they’ll likely want to start dressing themselves and make a fuss when you won’t let them. Invest in clothing with buttons and zippers and allow them to give it a go. Start the getting ready process earlier if you’re worried you won’t have time.
Also, if they learn to do things like this themselves, it takes more work away from you. So really it’s a win-win situation!
Present Several Options
Another reason you and your child are likely to butt heads is because they feel you’re taking their freedom away. Strong-willed children are very independent so the minute they think their freedom is at stake, they will tell you exactly what they think about that!
Instead, offering several options will make them feel like they are in control. Of course, you should make sure these options all aim towards the thing you’re trying to get them to do. It’s just a clever way to make them feel more in control and less likely to argue or throw a tantrum.
Consistency Is Key
Consistency is important for any parent, but it takes on a whole new level of importance for the strong-willed child. They are clever and always looking at ways to challenge authority. They want to know exactly what they can get away with. So, the minute you give in they know you wasn’t really serious about the rules that were in place and you’ll have a tough job enforcing them once they’ve been broken.
Of course, this also means they’re going to learn to challenge you on any future rules you make. So consistency is absolutely vital if you want them to listen to and respect your rules.
Embrace The Learning Opportunities
One of the great things about parenthood is the opportunities it gives you to learn new skills. It’s a constant learning experience that can really enrich your life. With a strong-willed child, you have even more opportunity to learn as you have to get really creative in order to manage their behavior. You’ll soon be able to look at potentially challenging situations in your own life and discover the positives.
Be Proud Of The Strong-Willed Temperament
As frustrating and upsetting as their behavior may seem right now, that feistiness is going to help them grow into well-balanced, confident adults. Strong will is a trait to be proud of. They have a perseverance that’s going to help get them through any obstacle which gets in their way. It’s their strong-willed personality which makes them truly unbelievable people.
So rather than fighting against your little one’s temperament, embrace it. Appreciate it for what it truly is and acknowledge the benefits that come with it; particularly as your child grows. The key is to understand the behavior and how your child thinks. Above all else, patience and consistency is what will help you survive the difficult times.
Overall strong-willed children are indeed challenging. However, they’re also amazing little human beings who know exactly what they want. Once you embrace their personality, you’ll soon start to see how remarkable they really are.