Strong-willed children do not want to surrender; they want to have their way. Therefore, they often view your instructions as mere suggestions. If they win the argument or don’t have to do what you tell them to do, then they win. The problem is that doesn’t prepare them for life. You are the parent! So, how do you successfully raise a strong-willed child?
It can be a difficult challenge for parents of strong-willed kids to know what to do. You need to know that strong-willed children have a knack for finding your weaknesses, your insecurities, your fears, and your willingness to let things slide. Trust me; strong-willed kids can push you to the point of utter frustration.
Let me tell you: I didn’t parent perfectly. I made many, many mistakes trying to figure it out. My kids disagreed with me a lot and they didn’t respond joyfully to everything I did. They were children. They needed parenting. I needed to show up every day and be faithful. I trusted the Lord to lead me as I taught them.
When it comes to dealing with strong-willed children, remember to incorporate these four words into your parenting.
4 C’s for Raising a Strong-Willed Child
Compliment – Every child needs verbal affirmation, especially strong-willed kids. Pay attention when they do something right, listen to your instructions, or exhibit self-control. Let them know that you appreciate it when they do something positive. These compliments always seem to motivate a child to work harder and reinforce positive behavior.
Connection – Strong-willed children tend to be a bit frustrating for a parent. Their constant resistance can cause a parent to pull away emotionally, relationally, and physically. But, it is so important to show these children unconditional love. Showing unconditional love should not be confused with condoning their actions nor does it mean there are no consequences for disobedience. Instead, once the consequence is applied, the child is loved and hugged as if nothing ever happened. Though it might seem easier to distance yourself, but it is not what your child needs from you. Hug them. Show them your love is not based on performance.
Consistent – Strong-willed children need firm boundaries. They also need consistency from you. Once you’ve established what is acceptable and what isn’t, you need to hold your child accountable. Look for areas where you can say yes to as much as possible. If a strong-willed child is allowed to get away with something ten times and then disciplined for it on the eleventh time, they will continue to push the limits. The goal is to learn they can’t whine, argue, or wear you down to get their way.
Correction – Correction is a necessary part of raising children. Create consequences for disobedience and apply them consistently every time. As a mom of a couple of strong-willed children, I will tell you this wasn’t easy. It felt like some days all I did was correct them. Persevere! The road is long, and you will get tired of correcting. There will be days when that is all you do. Stay the course! It does work, but some children need more “help” in this area than others.
A few remaining thoughts…
A child who is strong-willed needs guidance. They are future leaders! Their disobedience is still disobedient. Try to consider what is going on before correcting them. They might be tired, hungry, stressed, and out of sorts, but these things don’t cause disobedience. Those things just allow what is already in their hearts to surface. That being said, give your child as many opportunities as possible to follow instructions. Create an environment that encourages obedience and does not set them up for failure.
Thank you for listening to this episode of Equipped To Be!
Do you know how to create a positive digital footprint and why it matters to your child’s future?
Most of us know what we shouldn’t share online. We also know the sites we visit and that conversations aren’t private. But children don’t know this! Most children think what they do will vanish after a short time. The idea that every click and conversation is being archived or watched by big tech screeners is unfathomable to them.
Parents are often frustrated by the arguments they have with their children over technology and social media. I understand how difficult it can be. After a long day, parents either give in or give up. May I encourage you to try another way? Teach them how to use tech!
Instead of fighting, I encourage you to walk with your child, so they learn how to make wise clicks and create a positive digital footprint.
Last week (in episode #80), I discussed how to raise tech-savvy kids. This week we will go a little deeper into how you minimize the conflict and have confidence that your child will be safe in a dangerous online world.
Limit Unproductive Time Scrolling
Avoid Using Screens as a Babysitter
Teach Children How to Tame Tech
Be the Parent. Do what is right for your child. If you say no, give him the reason behind your decision.
When your child know you are trying to understand her why, she will listen to your responses with less objections. You can teach your child how to create positive digital footprint, but you must be intentional. There are people who aren’t looking after your child’s best interest. That’s your job!
Parents are rightly concerned when it comes to technology. But unfortunately, devices are often the source of disagreements, threats, and angry outbursts in many families. Kids don’t understand the dangers, and parents don’t know how to navigate online usage. What do you need to know for raising tech-savvy kids?
In March of 2020, the number of hours children spent online drastically increased. Most kids didn’t have a choice. They had to do school virtually, which meant more tech time. And because every activity was canceled, kids needed to “do” something because they couldn’t go out the way they were accustomed to. At first, the shock of all the disruption parents found themselves letting their children spend way more time than they’ve ever allowed before. But now, parents are revisiting their children’s digital usage.
Is technology bad? Is the Internet safe? The simple answer to both questions is no. Technology isn’t bad; it’s neutral. It only does what it’s programmed to do. And the Internet isn’t safe, but that doesn’t mean we can’t or shouldn’t learn how to use the Internet wisely.
In this episode, we’ll focus on two points every parent must consider so that they can raise tech-savvy children who know how to use these powerful tools skillfully.
Know Your Child
Not every child will respond in the same way to using technology. Some children have better things to do with their time than be online constantly using social media or watching videos. If they need to go online, they do what they need to do and go on with their day.
However, other children can’t get enough screen time. They are eager to learn more. They want to find ways to connect with more friends. Some get lured into websites they never intended to visit because they clicked on a few links out of curiosity. Whatever their reason for wanting to be online is, it is never enough time for them. They struggle with turning off their devices. They genuinely fear missing something if they aren’t checked in somewhere.
Part of parenting is to know our children and help them understand how they are wired. I promise what works for one child is unlikely to work with another child. This is because they are unique and have an internal driver that makes them do what they do.
The best way to teach your children how to be tech-savvy is to walk alongside them while they live under your roof. Too many times, parents miss this opportunity to teach time management, self-control, proper tech usage, and God’s principles regarding having an online platform. Another option we have as parents is to teach them what to do if they misuse apps, links, or social media platforms.
Social media is a tool that many use for good. Unfortunately, it can also be a weapon used to hurt or harm someone. The online culture changed dramatically in 2020-2021. Our kids need more help than ever in knowing how to use any platform wisely.
When you know your children, you can speak the truth, so they will understand because you know them and care about their future.
You get to help them learn how to shine a positive light on others. You can help them learn how to refrain from the temptations.
Be the parent your children can come to if they get exposed to something online. But, first, you have to have the type of relationship where your children know you won’t overreact before knowing the circumstances.
Another way we can teach our children to be tech-savvy is to consider why they want to surf the net.
Consider Why Your Child Wants to Post
Have you seen the movie The Social Dilemma? If you haven’t, I encourage you to watch it first alone and then with your children—if they are old enough to comprehend the message.
Knowing why your child wants to use technology or the Internet is valuable information. It helps your family make wiser decisions. I’ve talked to Google and Facebook sales reps at various conventions and was surprised to learn they don’t allow their children to use YouTube or social media until they’re older. Even then, they place restrictions on where they go, what they post, how much time they spend, and how mature their child is before giving them the permission. They know that even with all the parental controls and devices, children can still be at risk.
Whatever you decide for your family, be assured that others will disagree with you. I’ve seen friendships end because they don’t see eye to eye. It would be best if you led your children in a manner that is right for them, not because you might get questioned by others. Know your why and share that with care and clarity. Keep in mind, most of your friends and family want what’s best for your child too.
God wants us to teach and train our children. If not you, then who will? This is a phrase I told myself many times. If I don’t teach my children, others will, and I don’t know what those others would teach my kids.
Teach them to be wise and discerning. Share things that can be uplifting and inspiring. It’s our job to teach them to use technology for God’s glory. Then, we can slowly allow our children to use these tools with precision while avoiding the pitfalls.
In next week’s episode, I’ll continue the conversation on raising tech-savvy kids.
Does God want us to honor our parents? Or is that only for children?
Honoring Parents: Young and Old
The answer is yes! We need to honor our parents as we teach our children to honor us. The best way to teach your children to honor you is by example. When they see us honor our parents, they learn what honor means.
So, what does honor mean? To honor and respect our parents means that we have high regard for them. We love and appreciate them and are concerned about their well-being. We treat them with courtesy and thoughtful consideration. We seek to understand them better.
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”
Do we have to honor if we disagree with our parents? While we might disagree on things, yes, we can still honor our parents.
Is there a time you stop honoring your parents? No! God instructs Christians to keep honoring their parents even when they are adults.
“Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and do not forsake your mother’s teaching; Indeed, they are a graceful wreath to your head and ornaments about your neck.”
God wants us to listen to our parents. We can learn a lot by listening to their sage advice. Of course, we aren’t required to do as they say, but there is no harm in hearing their thoughts.
God works through imperfections. If your parents weren’t perfect, I encourage you to forgive them. Ask the Lord for wisdom to love them despite their shortcomings.
God knows mistakes will be made and provides a way for us to handle them. We can learn from what we’ve done wrong, apologize, and move forward.
God will bless you when you choose to honor your parents. This truth needs to be taught to our children by our example.
God promises you will be blessed when you show honor to your parents.
I have a challenge for you: Find ways that you can show honor to your parents. What can you do to show honor? How can you teach your children to honor you as their parents? When you think about it, we show honor in three ways: what we say, what we do, and how we act. You show honor to others through your words, actions, and body language.
Three Ways to Show Honor to Parents
Words: It’s the simple things: saying thank you, giving a word of encouragement, and affirming them in what they are doing.
Actions: Invite your parents over. Asking for their advice or input when deciding on an important matter isn’t a sign of weakness or incompetence. Help them with tasks they might need assistance with like doing yard work, or deep cleaning, or taking them to the doctor. Or just spend time listening to them talk about their day.
Body language. We often think we only show honor through our words and deeds, but another way to show honor is by our body language. This means not showing displeasure through your tone of voice or facial expressions. Our parents may be older, but they still can sense when someone is annoyed or irritated with them. Learn to control your body language, communicate love, and strengthen your relationship with your parents.
The more you practice honoring your parents, the easier it becomes. Remember, honor comes from the heart! If your parents have passed away, you can still show them honor, by the way you speak about their life.
Don’t forget: When you fall short, you can always apologize and try again!
Ask the Lord to allow you to see through your parent’s eyes. Ask the Lord to reveal any heart issues you might be harboring against your parents or that your child might have against you. Ask him to help you pay careful attention to your body language. Commit to honoring your parents!
Are your school-aged kids at risk? How will this back-and-forth sort of schooling impact our kids? First, the back and forth disrupts children’s rhythm and routine. They don’t know what to expect when things change from day to day. Some children can roll with the ebbs and flows with great ease, but the disruption throws them off for other children. So what can you do as a parent to keep your kids from being at risk?
Children thrive on routine and consistency. But, unfortunately, the back-and-forth of schools opening and closing can harm children, especially when parents must work full-time. But there are ways to help your children and their friends navigate the back-and-forth so they don’t get behind.
Giving a child supplemental work can be helpful to reinforce skills previously taught. Elementary students will benefit from hands-on learning. Cooking, playing, making crafts are fun ways to apply what they have learned. Middle and high school students can benefit from worksheets that help them practice math and English concepts.
Avoid Talking Negatively
It is wise to avoid talking negatively about what’s happening. Some children won’t react well and can get quite upset. By being careful of what we say in front of our children and what they hear from well-meaning adults, our children are more likely to stay calm.
Should Parents Hover?
It’s important for parents not to view their desire to help their children as hovering. Instead, think of it as helping your children make academic progress by coming alongside them. Parents can offer critical feedback as well as identify when a child starts to struggle.
Setting expectations can help your children continue to make forward progress. But we do want to make sure those expectations are realistic. Look for progress that is commensurate with their ability. Try not to compare siblings or allow online educators to compare your child with others in the course.
Children do need to understand they are caught in the middle of this back-and-forth. Parents need to remember that children can get frustrated by not having a say in anything right now.
There are ways to incentivize our kids to stay on track so they aren’t at risk!
Be positive about their day. Kids need reassurance that it’s all going to be OK.
Monitor your environment. Children feed off their surrounding environment.
Tell your children the plans for the next day on the night before. You can talk about the next day at dinner or during bedtime.
Remind them in the morning of your conversation the previous night.
Keep some consistent routines. Wake up, eat breakfast, get dressed.
Give children a reason to follow your instructions. Kids love rewards.
Whether your children are being impacted directly, they can still get caught in the back-and-forth of what is happening and their education. However, your wise counsel and discerning spirit can keep your children from being at risk.
Parents, you have the opportunity to shape and create memorable moments your children will think about for years. A few years ago, I read The Power of Moments by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. If you’ve read Parenting beyond the Rules, then you know I write about how we can create defining moments with our children. I was doing this when my children were young, which is why I enjoyed reading the book. It affirmed much of what I believed about memory-making. I knew childhood memories were important. I also knew most of my childhood memories were ones I did not want to remember. Actually, there are very few childhood memories I care to remember. That is why I became so passionate about creating memorable moments with my family.
What do I mean by creating defining moment? It is something intentional that we do. It’s paying attention to the things your child does or says and positively commenting on them. Creating a memorable moment isn’t something we ignore and hope they remember. Instead, we can help focus positive attention on the event they are experiencing.
Shaping your children’s memories isn’t an attempt to write the story you want but to bring awareness to a positive moment they will reflect on later in life.
“Memory believes before remembering begins.”
Think about that for a moment. Memory believes before knowing remembers. Your kids will draw off the memories you help them create today, the good and the bad. So, naturally, we want our kids to think back on their childhood with fondness.
Creating Memorable Moments
We make memories every day. Some are lasting, and others are forgotten. So, if we are constantly making memories, how can we create memorable moments that your children will dwell on?
Memories come in a variety of ways. But in this episode, I talk about three ways you can create defining moments.
The memories associated with traditions will help your children focus on things they do that bring them joy and delight. Traditions can also make your child feel strong or proud of themselves. Children thrive when they have a bank of positive memories to look back on.
Traditions are the repeated activities a family or group of people do together to create shared meaning about such interactions. For example, birthday celebrations, group camping trips, holiday gatherings, or reaching a milestone are a few of the traditions we can establish to create memorable moments.
Repeated actions can be ordinary actions the deepen the shared experience to increase meaning.
Rituals are religious or solemn ceremonies consisting of a series of actions performed according to a prescribed order. Rituals can be added to a tradition to enhance its meaning further. They might include praying together before meals or at bedtime. Taking flowers to a friend who is not feeling well. Going around the room and saying something positive about the person next to them.
One ritual we had was to stop and pray for the people involved in an accident. My kids still pray for others when they see an accident on the side of the road. This simple act made an impression on them. It didn’t cost anything, but it did make them consider what others might be going through.
Creating memorable moments can happen by performing tasks that make a family run smoothly. They feel part of something greater than themselves. By assigning tasks to each member of the family, children quickly learn that they are needed. Cleaning the kitchen, folding the laundry, working in the yard are all ways our kids express themselves.
I’ll never forget when my oldest child decided to eat a worm while we were raking the leaves. He wanted to get a reaction from his siblings. They didn’t disappoint. We were all grossed out. We still laugh about that. Some of your children are like that too. They will do things when everyone is working on a task to make others laugh or get attention.
When you assign tasks to your children, it is critical to observe attitudes and ask why they do or don’t enjoy their tasks. You will get more cooperation from them if they know you are interested and willing to adjust the assignment based on their feedback.
Family tasks do more than provide an opportunity to create defining moments; they teach your children valuable skills they will use later in life.
It does take some preplanning on your part, but your efforts will pay off when your children are older. They will not understand all the work you put into creating events or planning family gatherings while they are young but think long-term. So what will they remember about the season of life they are living in right now.
Traditions, rituals, and family tasks can be a catalyst for meaningful and positive memories. You can ensure the memories they access are rich and vivid and frankly easy to think upon and as a mom and a dad. The ability to create those defining moments serves as a transmitter of meaning.
I want to encourage you to start today, whatever your children’s ages, to be intentional about creating defining moments they will, one day, share and reflect on. So that instead of thinking about all the difficult situations they had to overcome, they’ll think about the family activities that added joy to their childhood.