The struggle of raising a strong-willed child
In order to understand what means to have a strong willed child we have to define what exactly is a strong willed child. Some parents may call him “difficult” or “stubborn” but on the other side, strong willed kids are little people of integrity who have a strong point of view and they stick with it. They have a fierce spirit and great courage. They prefer to learn things trough their own experience rather than accepting what others serve them, so they keep pushing the limits forward and forward. If they decided in their heart that they want something, they will go for it and their brain will help them archive their goals. Strong-willed kids have passionate feelings and they prone to power-struggles with their parents. But keep in mind that two are necessary to have a power-struggle.
The difference between a just stubborn kid and a strong-willed one is about temperament. A defiant child has a problem with authority, but a strong-willed child fights against the way authority is presented, and he will take the consequences rather than do what he’s told to do. He needs to feel that he’s controlling and he has something to say about the situation. Here are some tips about how you can deal with a strong-willed child.
Tip No.1: Give your strong-willed child a choice
The thing with strong-willed kids is that they aren’t just being stubborn, they feel that their integrity is compromised if they submit to another person’s will. In order to keep this is control, give them the chance to choose and they will cooperate. If you have a problem with this, because you consider that obedience is more important, think about your purpose. You want to raise a responsible child who does what it’s right, not what you want. So it doesn’t actually matters the compromise that you do for your ego, as long as the child learns to do what needs to be done.
Tip No.2: Give him authority over his body
If you’re getting ready for going out and your kid doesn’t want to wear the jacket, tell him that you think is cold outside and you will wear yours, but it’s not necessary for him to wear his. But just in case he changes his mind, it is better if you put the jacket in the backpack. In this way, he feels that he’s in control and you can give him the jacket as soon as you get trough the door. Because you’re probably right, it’s cold outside, but for your strong-willed child it is hard to believe that it’s true when he feels so warm and comfortable in the house.
Tip No.3: Discipline through relationship, never through punishment
When in the middle of a fight, kids don’t learn. That’s the moment when adrenaline is pumping through the body and the openness for learning is shot off. Usually kids behave because they want to please their parents, but if you keep fighting with them, you undermine his desire to please you. Help your kid to express his feelings, fears or disappointments so he can move forward. And keep in mind that maybe he won’t do what you say all the time, but he will always do what you do.
Tip No.4: Show him respect
Strong-willed children fight for respect. If you offer it, is no need for them to fight to protect their position. Also, it helps a lot if they feel understood. If you see his point of view and think is not appropriate, you can find a compromise and meet him half way while you set the limits. For instance, if he wants to wear his superman cape at school, and you think this it’s not appropriate, you can explain to him that he needs to show respect for the school and he shows that respect by wearing the uniform. But he can wear the cape on the way.
Tip No.5: Set boundaries and keep them
If you set a limit with your strong-willed child and he breaks it, you give him a punishment, but you shouldn’t start feeling sorry for him after 15 seconds and cancel it. If you aren’t consistent with your discipline, your strong-willed child will battle longer having the impression that you will give in. If you are consistent, eventually he will give up.
Raising a strong-willed child is like running a marathon. As a parent every day you have to decide where you will draw the line, what you should permit and what should not be tolerate. You have to get ready for the battle every day until your kid will decide to stop battling.