A strong-willed child is spirited and courageous. Strong-willed kids are known for their daring, their desire to test limits and learn things for themselves, and their deep sense of self. They have big, strong feelings and emotions, and tend to be at full-speed in everything they do.
Raising a strong-willed child is challenging. Whether you want to call it ‘willful’ or ‘spirited’, strong-willed kids have high reactivity, which equals high emotion and intensity in everything they do. Yes, this can start feeling draining to parents, especially if it’s on the day-to-day, which it will be!
Some strong-willed kids will struggle with underdeveloped emotional regulation skills. Many will need help learning how to deal with their emotions without resorting to temper tantrums.
Strong-willed kids can experience more difficulty adapting to transitions, such as bedtime, clean-up time, or nap time. They experience more moods fluctuations than most of us, and feel a stronger persistence when they want things their own way. It’s easy to give in and cave when the struggle with your strong-willed child seems to persist every minute of the day. It’s natural to feel tired and frustrated. Boundaries will be constantly pushed.
Now the good news.
Strong-willed kids are less likely to bend to peer pressure, have amazing persistence, and tend to be leaders. Their unshakable will helps them achieve goals in life, both while in childhood and as adults.
Parenting a strong-willed child:
So, what can you do to help make that path to adulthood run a bit smoother?
Give strong-willed children plenty of space to learn on their own. They respond well to environmental factors, and tend to have to ‘learn things the hard way’…within limits, of course.
Pick your battles. Because there are likely to be a lot of them! Compromise can be a great strategy that helps your strong-willed child feel in control.
Utilize time-outs. There are flaws with time-out, but in this case, time-out is your friend.
Positive parenting works best. Strong-willed children are big on autonomy. By offering your child empathy, you will help your child feel understood. Using inductive reasoning can also help them adopt more appropriate behavior.