Parenting at every stage of life is a little bit of a roller coaster. When children learn independence and want to take charge (a.k.a. strong-willed children), parenting can feel like a constant battleground.
Some children are more strong-willed than others. You may see signs of this early on or maybe not until they are preschoolers. Regardless of age, independence is important and should be nurtured, but setting boundaries with your strong-willed little ones is also important (mostly for your sanity).
Check out these tips for raising a strong-willed child:
- Teach, don’t tell. Instead of telling your child how you want them to behave, teach them through your actions and conversations.
- One of the most effective parenting skills you can learn is redirection. Most young children don’t have the attention span to continue on with a long battle. Redirect their attention to something else to get them back on track.
- Give choices. Independence comes with the want to control. Giving kids choices instead of telling them what they need to do gives them the sense of control they are looking for. Just don’t get too carried away with how many choices.
- Let the storm pass. Tantrums are inevitable, especially with strong-willed children. Instead of trying to intervene and frustrating your child more, try to give space to your child and let the storm pass, so to speak. Once they have calmed down, make sure to let them know it was not acceptable.
- Keep it positive. Whether it’s a reward system for good behavior or positive feedback such as “you’ve been a great listener today”, kids respond better to positive reinforcement.
TKD Tip: While a strong-willed child is difficult to raise in their younger years, nurture their independence as they usually tend to grow up to be self-motivating leaders.
Parent/Child Activity: Sit down with your child and ask them what they would like to do on their own. There may be daily routines that they don’t want your help with so figure out together what these are to give them more control and to grow. It may be brushing their teeth or doing their laundry or picking out their clothes. They want to feel independent so give them constructive outlets to be so.