Strong-willed children are usually mistaken as stubborn or difficult. Maybe because they know how to stand their ground, they always test their limits, can argue with you forever and are insistent on getting what they want. Well, it may be true that raising these kids can be quite a challenge. But you know what? Your ability to raise them positively can help shape them into successful and amazing adults!
Strong-willed kids can be a handful, but here are some helpful tips to positively parent your child and encourage their cooperation.
Let them learn through experience
Strong-willed children are less likely to listen if they are being controlled. So, unless they are at risk of getting hurt or injured, the best way to teach them something is to let them experience it. There’s no point in saying no to them repetitively because they’ll only keep on testing your patience. Spare yourself from some stress and allow them to learn through experience.
Work with your child
Instead of opposing your strong-willed child, you can get them to listen by making them feel you’re a team. They should feel that they are a valued member of the team. Look for opportunities to divert their energy to something more productive and useful. Use a positive tone so that they don’t feel that they are being manipulated. When they realize that it’s actually a team effort, they are more likely going to be cooperative and productive instead of becoming a headache.
Allow them a certain level of independence
Strong-willed children want to feel that they are in control. If there’s one thing they desire more than anything, it’s mastery. Instead of telling them how things are supposed to be done, let them take charge of their activities. There’s no need to dictate everything to them but rather ask them questions and encourage them to think. If they feel that they are more responsible for themselves, they are less likely to be oppositional.
Give them choices
Telling a strong-willed child exactly what they have to do will leave them feeling controlled. Make them feel that they are the masters of their own destiny by offering choices. However, it doesn’t mean they can always say no even if it involves things that are non-negotiable. For example, going to the dentist is a must and you know that they hate dental visits. Instead of asking them to decide, ask them this question instead, “Do you want us to visit the dentist in the morning or in the afternoon?” If they prefer afternoon, make sure they will do it with no fuss.
Establish rules and routines
While early, rules and routines should be established so that strong-willed children do not feel that you are bossing them around. Having a set of rules around the house is a good way to gently control and discipline your kids without them realizing it. This will help set their expectations and reduce the chances of an argument.
Meet them halfway
Strong-willed children need to feel that they are understood. They need to know that their feelings are validated and that they are not seeking attention for nothing. Instead of reprimanding your child for the way they misbehaved, try to empathize with them and understand where they’re coming from. Try to look at things from their point of view instead of assuming that they’re only being stubborn. Let them know their feelings are valid and make empathy part of your discipline.
Never impose discipline through punishment
Punishing a strong-willed child to impose discipline is a no-no. Using force will only increase resistance instead of obedience. What you can do instead is to leverage the relationship you have with them. Connect with them and be there for them. What they need is emotional support and understanding to influence them positively.
Getting the cooperation of strong-willed children might seem more difficult, but it doesn’t mean you’re bound to fail. With these positive parenting techniques, you can channel your child’s energy into something more productive and help them lead better lives.
Here at The Pillars Christian Learning Center, we understand that each child is unique. Therefore, we get them engaged in various activities and use the appropriate approach to make sure that they all feel valued and accepted for their uniqueness. Please feel free to give us a call for more information.