How To Handle A Strong Willed Child From 1st Hand Experience

I have looked after many a strong willed child over the years (including my own son!) and while yes… they can be a challenge, they can also be great little people to be around if their determination and persistence are directed correctly and in a healthy way.

Understanding Strong-Willed Children

If you are the parent of a strong willed child, you are probably and quite understandably finding it hard to understand their behavior.

Strong-willed children (also known as strong spirited children) are determined, persistent, and independent.

They have a clear idea of what they want and are certainly not afraid to express their opinions.

This can cause a strain on the parent-child relationship and if not handled correctly it can lead to multiple standoffs, meltdowns, and a huge amount of frustration on both sides.

While raising a strong willed child is challenging, it is first a foremost important to remember that being strong-willed is not the same as being disobedient or difficult.

Strong-willed children can be a joy to parent once you understand their unique needs and temperament.

My Experience With A Strong Willed Child

Strong willed children can present in many different ways, from those is are hugely independent and do not want your help, those who show disruptive behaviors, and others who once they have an idea in their head as to what they want just won’t let go…

My son fell into the last category and once he wanted something, he was like a dog with a bone and would just not let it rest.

Once he got an idea in his head that he wanted to do something or desired a certain toy he would just go on and on and on.

He never threw tantrums or acted out in order to persuade us to give him what he thought he couldn’t survive without…

But he would follow you around persistently asking when or if he was going to get the desired outcome or item – nonstop!

While this often tested my patience, I can now see evidence of his determination being super beneficial in his adult life.

He is hardworking and not a quitter.

When he sets his sights on a goal he works hard to achieve it and in most cases, is successful in achieving it. He has blazed his own path to success and has not followed a conventional path.

Finally, I have to say that he is never downhearted about negative outcomes, he just dusts himself off and moves on.

Therefore, you can see how some strong determination can be beneficial and something to be admired in our children.

Strong Willed Child Featured

Characteristics Of A Strong-Willed Child

As I have just explained I know from experience that there are in fact many positive characteristics that come with having a strong willed temperament:

Here are some common characteristics of a strong-willed child:

Understanding these strong-willed behaviors can help you better parent and support your child. By recognizing their strengths and challenges, you can help them develop into confident, capable adults.

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Positive Aspects of a Strong-Willed Child

Having a strong willed child can be challenging, but it’s important to remember that there are many positive aspects to this personality type.

Here are some of the benefits of raising a strong-willed child:

Positive Aspects Of A Strong Willed Child
  1. Leadership skills: Strong-willed children tend to be natural leaders. They are confident in their abilities and are not afraid to take charge. As they grow older, this can translate into success in school, work, and other areas of life.
  2. Creative thinking: Strong-willed children are often very creative and imaginative. They have a unique perspective on the world and are not afraid to express their ideas and opinions. This can lead to innovative solutions to problems and a fresh approach to life.
  3. Determination: Willful children are not easily deterred. They have a clear vision of what they want and are willing to work hard to achieve it. This determination can be a valuable asset in achieving goals and overcoming obstacles.
  4. Independence: Strong-willed children are independent thinkers. They are not afraid to go against the crowd and make their own decisions. This independence can be a valuable trait in adulthood, as it can lead to self-sufficiency and success.
  5. Resilience: Strong-willed children are often very resilient. They are able to bounce back from setbacks and challenges and keep moving forward. This resilience can be a valuable asset in life, as it can help them overcome adversity and achieve success.

Challenges With A Strong Willed Child

I was often told by my son’s teachers, even as early as pre-school, that he had a strong sense of self and this is very common in strong-willed children.

Children who fall into this category are not easily swayed and it is good to be well-prepared for the challenges you might face when dealing with their determination and persistence.

Here are some common challenges that you might be facing:

Challenges With Of A Strong Willed Child
  1. Power Struggles: A strong willed child may resist authority and challenge rules. This can lead to power struggles between the child and parent, which can be exhausting and frustrating for both parties. 
  2. Difficulty with Transitions: Strong willed children may have a hard time transitioning from one activity to another. They may become fixated on a particular task or activity and resist moving on to something else. 
  3. Demanding Behavior: Strong willed children can be demanding and may have a hard time accepting “no” as an answer. These passionate feelings may result in your child insisting on having their way and throwing tantrums when they don’t get what they want.
  4. Stubbornness: Strong willed children can be stubborn and may refuse to do things that they don’t want to do. This can be frustrating for parents who are trying to get their child to comply with their requests.
  5. Arguing and Negotiating: Strong willed children may argue and negotiate with their parents, trying to get their way. They may be skilled at finding loopholes in rules and exploiting them. This is when you must have firm boundaries and always stick to them.
  6. Intense Emotions: Strong willed children may have intense emotions and may become easily frustrated or angry. They may have a hard time regulating their emotions and may lash out at others.

Dealing with a strong willed child requires patience, consistency, and understanding.

It’s extremely important to have clear boundaries and expectations while also allowing your child to express themselves and make choices.

Remember that your child’s strong will can be a positive trait when channeled in the right direction. But they will need your support and guidance.

Parenting Strategies For A Strong Willed Child

With the right strategies, parenting a strong willed child can be very rewarding.

Here are some effective strategies to help you:

1. Consistency And Routine

Children thrive on consistency and routine so establishing and maintaining a consistent daily routine can help your spirited children feel more secure and in control.

I am always advocating strong routines anyway… but for the strong-willed child, they are absolutely essential!

Stick to a regular schedule for meals, bedtime, and other daily activities.

2. Setting Boundaries

Consistency in setting boundaries is also important.

When it comes to pre-schoolers, make sure you and your partner are on the same page when it comes to discipline and consequences for misbehavior.

And for toddlers, ensure that you are both setting the same clear boundaries from early on.

Strong-willed kids need clear guidance. Set limits on what behaviors are acceptable and what consequences will follow if those boundaries are crossed.

Be firm but kind when enforcing those boundaries. Avoid making empty threats or giving in to your child’s demands.

3. Positive Reinforcement

Positive parenting can also be a powerful tool when working with a strong willed child. Be sure to praise your child when they exhibit positive behaviors and make good choices.

You can also use rewards to encourage positive behavior, but please make sure those rewards are appropriate and consistent.

4. Active Listening

Active listening is an important skill to master when parenting a strong willed child.

Listen to your child‘s concerns and feelings, and acknowledge their perspective. This can help your child feel heard and understood, as well as give them s sense of control, which can often reduce their resistance to your requests.

5. Expressing Empathy

Expressing empathy is another important skill when parenting a willful child.

Try to see things from your child’s perspective and validate their feelings. This can help them feel more connected to you and more willing to cooperate. Tell them that you understand they are angry, frustrated, or disappointed and you can use emotion tools to help with this too.

Young children who hear these words will later be able to use them themselves to express how they feel.

By using these strategies, you can help your strong willed child develop self-control and learn to make positive choices.

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Long-Term Outlook For A Strong Willed Child

As a parent of a strong willed child, it is important to understand that their behavior is not a choice but a natural characteristic they were born with.

You will have to work with it and not try to change it.

Strong willed children are born with a natural inclination towards independence and self-determination which in the long-term outlook is a positive thing.

Research has shown that strong willed children are more likely to be successful in adulthood.

They tend to have higher levels of self-esteem, self-awareness, and confidence.

These traits are essential for success in any field, whether it be business, academia, or personal relationships.

However, it is important to note that success for a strong willed child may not look the same as it does for other children. They may not follow traditional paths or conform to norms.

Instead, they may blaze their own trail and create their own definition of success. This has certainly been the case with my own son!

To support a strong willed child’s long-term success, it is important to provide them with opportunities to exercise their independence and decision-making skills.

Encourage them to pursue their passions and interests, even if they differ from your own.

Allow them to experience the consequences of their choices, both positive and negative.

Trying to meet them head-on or change their natural path will only end in a lot of unnecessary drama and confrontation that will benefit neither you nor them.

Frequently Asked Questions About Strong Willed Children

Looking for more information about strong willed children? Look no further. Here are the most frequently asked questions answered just for you.

What Are Some Common Misconceptions About Strong-Willed Children?

One common misconception is that strong-willed children are always difficult and disobedient. In reality, strong-willed children are often confident, independent, and determined. They may simply have a strong sense of self and a desire to make their own decisions.

Do Strong-Willed Kids Have ADHD?

Not necessarily. While some strong-willed children may be diagnosed with ADHD, many are not. It is important to seek a professional diagnosis if you suspect your child has ADHD or any other developmental disorder.

My Strong Willed Child Is Driving Me Crazy! What Can I Do?

It can be challenging to parent a strong willed child, but it is important to remember that their behavior is not a reflection of your parenting skills. Try to remain calm and consistent in your discipline of difficult behavior, and seek support from a trusted friend or professional if needed.

What Are Some Effective Discipline Strategies For Children With Strong Wills?

Consistency is key when disciplining strong-willed kids. Set clear boundaries and consequences, and follow through with them every time. Use positive reinforcement whenever possible, and try to avoid power struggles.

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Author Image Bio
Paula McLaren is the founder of Teething to Tantrums and a highly qualified childcare expert with over 40 years of experience as a Norland Nanny. She holds a BA (Hons) in Early Years Development & Learning (0-6 Years) and the prestigious Norland Diploma. Paula has worked as a night nanny, run a successful daycare center in London, and helped raise countless children using her tried and tested developmental and guidance methods.

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