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!
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