Her blood-curdling scream was enough to wake the baby and send chills down my spine. “I told you to STOP!” she yelled. I had never heard my daughter speak to me this way. N-E-V-E-R. All that had happened is she had asked for my help and I had given it to her. The way she verbalized herself was new, but facing her big emotions certainly was not. Between my daughter and my oldest son, I face big emotions every single day. Heck, even the baby is pretty outspoken. There is no doubt, I’m raising strong-willed children. And to be completely honest, I’m very proud of that fact. Strong-willed children are natural leaders and they are shown to earn more as adults.
Raising strong-willed children is exceptionally demanding and here’s why.
Strong-willed children are unrelenting.
Just this morning, my five-year-old daughter spotted a St. Patrick’s Day hairclip caught underneath my dresser. Upon seeing it, she absolutely needed to wear it to school. Despite me showing her that I could not lift the dresser, she spent the next ten minutes doing her best to shimmy the green accessory out from under the massive piece of furniture and into her hair.
They are wildly outspoken.
See the example I opened with. When something does not make sense to them, they don’t feel heard, or they’re hurt, there’s no mistaking it. There is nothing stoic about these little beings. They cry, yell, and make themselves heard! Moreover, they don’t accept instruction at face value. The only way they respond is to reasoning, respect, and understanding. My three-year-old son is a prime example. The first few times I told him to put his garbage in the trash can or requested he put away his toys, I was met with an unshakable, “NO!” In fact, most of the time when I asked him to do something, that is the answer I get. However, when I explain to him why the expectation exists, he complies.
They are sensitive to changes in their environment and have BIG feelings.
When life changes, my children can get quite overwhelmed. For example, the day after Christmas or their birthdays, we have to lay really low. After any big shift, they are much more prone to meltdowns. It’s as though they have an excitement hangover and we need to tread carefully.
When it comes to their independence, they are prone to power struggles.
Because we live far away from both sets of grandparents, we have visitors staying with us often. As soon as the excitement of Nana or Oma visiting wears off, both kids take to testing boundaries to see who is really in control and how much they can get away with. Of course, it is wonderful to have loved ones visit. Nevertheless, it always requires more vigilance and empathy on my part.
Truly, raising strong-willed children is so incredibly demanding. But if research has told us anything about these dynamic souls it’s that we must maintain their spirits. So, that means asserting authority and demanding obedience is out of the question. The best course of action is to use positive parenting strategies.
Positive Parenting Strategies for Successfully Raising Strong-Willed Children
The key to parenting a strong-willed child comes down to approach. Spirited kids need to feel heard, acknowledged and autonomous. Imposing strict rules, attempting to control them, and using harsh punishments will only hurt the parent-child relationship. Additionally, these methodologies will decrease the likelihood the child will internalize our rules and values. As such, positive parenting strategies are best. Below, is a list of some of the best resources for raising strong-willed children.
For more resources on raising strong-willed children, please check out my Pinterest board below.