A Parent’s Guide to Raising a Strong-Willed Child


Your strong-willed child has many personality traits that will help them to succeed once they reach adulthood. Until then, you have to figure out how to parent them without losing your peace of mind. 

Studies show that strong willed children tend to get higher grades and earn more money. They also excel at standing up for their beliefs and advocating for themselves. 

Hopefully that will provide some comfort while you’re dealing with their less attractive habits, like defiance and temper tantrums. The strong-willed child is determined to get their way and willing to fight for as long as it takes. 

Help your child reach their potential by preparing yourself to overcome the challenges along the way. Try these suggestions for raising a willful child. 

Helping Your Child to Deal with Frustration 

The tenacity that drives your child to persevere can also make it difficult for them to tolerate disappointments. Teaching them to deal with frustration will help them to handle anger and other emotions appropriately. 

Use these techniques to help them manage their frustrations: 

1. Validate their feelings. Listen to your child and support them even when you disagree with their choices. Let them know that their feelings and opinions matter. 

2. Be consistent. State your expectations and the consequences for violating them. It may be tempting to give in in order to stop a tantrum. However, long term progress depends on standing firm. 

3. Communicate clearly. Use specific language your child will understand. For example, instead of asking them to be polite, ask them to let others speak without interrupting them. 

4. Offer choices. Your child is more likely to follow your rules if you give them some input in the process. Let them decide which homework assignment to tackle first. 

5. Step back. Experience is a powerful teacher. Your child may want your help when they run into trouble but dealing with the fallout from their decisions will be more enriching. 

6. Channel their energy. Encourage your child to apply their gifts to constructive activities like physical exercise, creative hobbies, and volunteer work. It’s especially important for them to help others so they balance their determination with respect and consideration. 

Protecting Your Relationship with Your Child 

How can you be firm about unacceptable behavior and still be gentle with your child? Remember that discipline is more about teaching than punishment. 

Try these strategies:

1. Provide positive reinforcement. Keep a list of things you love about your child. 

Reward them for good behavior such as taking turns and following directions. 

2. Stay calm. Control your own emotions. Avoid speaking in anger or making generalizations. Walk around the block if you need to cool down. 

3. Hang out. Spend time with your child. Plan one-on-one outings. Engage in meaningful discussions and enjoyable pastimes. 

4. Set priorities. If you sometimes feel exhausted, budget your resources so you can teach the most essential lessons. Crossing the street safely is more important than wearing matching socks. 

5. Start early. Did you breathe a sigh of relief when you survived the Terrible Twos? Keep in mind that it’s natural for adolescents to challenge authority and the risks often become more serious as children grow older. Early training in honest communication and delayed gratification will pay off. 

6. Consider counseling. Wise parents know when to ask for help. Strong willed children may experience a variety of conduct disorders that can be treated with behavior modification therapies. 

It takes love and consistency to parent a strong-willed child. In return, you’ll be rewarded with a close relationship and the satisfaction of knowing you raised a leader who can make a positive difference in the world. 

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