How to Manage a Strong Willed Child

How to Manage a Strong-Willed Child

  • Be calm, respectful, and clear with firm authority
  • Tap into the emotional side of the brain
  • Give choices and teach them to problem solve
  • Allow them to learn from experience
  • Develop and guide their strong sense of integrity
  • Teach them to use their strong will to become influential leaders and stand firm for a good cause


Your strong-willed child is a blessing!

Yes, you heard me right.

This child carries traits of independence and persistence. He’s highly alert and quite intense.

The tendency can be to call this child stubborn, disobedient, or uncooperative; but if you constantly call out the bad they do, they’ll live up to your expectations.

On the contrary, when you see these challenging traits as their gift to the world, you’ll bring out the good in them. Learn how to speak on their terms and meet their specific needs.

Here are a few tips on how to manage your strong-willed child.

Be calm, respectful, and clear with firm authority.

Always approach your strong-willed child with a calm tone of voice yet remain firmly authoritative. If you have climaxed your patience and you are angry and frustrated, treat your strong-willed child as you would want them to treat you. Refrain from lecturing them and even limit your words when instructing them. These kids don’t need you to explain your reasoning.

Avoid the power struggle — you know you’re in charge; you don’t have to prove it.

Your strong-willed child wants to take charge and be in control; but you can’t have a power struggle if you don’t participate in it. Be the adult. Recognize when the power struggles are happening and give up your need to be right. Always have your boundaries set but allow your child the freedom of choice, opinion and emotion.

Set clear routines to deflect the struggle from you as the parent. You can refer to the routine and communicate that you follow the rules in this house.

In creating a calm, respectful environment with clear directions, use positive commands rather than saying “No!” too often. Saying “Don’t…” can be confusing and makes your child think about the negative command rather than the behaviour you actually want them to do, and it opens the door for them to challenge or resist you.

You can learn to respond with using Do and Yes as often as possible.

Tap into the emotional side of the brain.

Children have an intense need to express emotion. If they are shamed or belittled when they cry, they’ll either withdraw or, in the case of a strong-willed child, act out. When you approach your child with understanding, you open the door for them to communicate with you what’s going on inside of them.

You can use these 9 Genius Phrases for Dealing with a Strong Willed Child. Kids need you to see their needs. Showing empathy opens the door for them to feel understood.

Be understanding of their need for extra transition time. Rather than expecting them to hop on board as you call out to them, it is crucial for you to be aware that your child needs time to prepare themselves for the next chain of events. Again, in this way, you communicate to them that you understand their need to feel they are in charge.

Be aware that each reaction has a reason. Be mindful of the hidden messages your child sends you throughout the day.

Always love unconditionally and be fluent with your praise when a job is well done. What your strong-willed child wants most of all is to connect with you. If you’re patient and empathetic with them, they will choose you above themselves because their core being loves and respects you.

Give choices and allow them to problem solve.

Set ground rules and stick to them, but allow your strong-willed child to have choices as much as possible. When giving choices, give two options within your boundaries — this gives your child freedom to choose rather than having to bow to a command. They cannot stand the thought of being controlled and will immediately see a chance for a power struggle.

Rather than telling your child, “Go to bed.”

Communicate to them that they have to brush their teeth, clean up their toys, and put on their pyjamas before 8pm (which is the actual bedtime). This poses them with a challenge to have these tasks completed by a certain time. Being results-oriented, they are more than likely to take on the challenge with great success.

Because these kids are born with a natural gift to problem solve, tap into that and allow them to take on challenges. Refrain from trying to fix their problems. Give them opportunities to think through the problems in order to come up with a solution on their own.

Allow them to learn from experience.

Your little independent fireball will test your limits over and over again because they learn from experience. They have to try it for themselves. They resist control because they have an extreme need to be in charge. If it’s not highly dangerous, it’s OK to allow your child to see for themselves if the stove is hot. Their body’s nerves will remind them next time what your words could never resonate in their minds.

Being in charge is not a bad thing; it just needs to be trained under your watchful eye. It teaches them how to take both initiative and responsibility.

Your independent child can tick off a list on a chart each morning to feel as though they are in complete charge of their morning routine. (Free Printable Morning Routine Chart)

Develop and guide their strong sense of integrity.

Your strong-willed child is seemingly resistant to you often because she is wired with a deep sense of integrity. She will stand face to face with a challenge or threat to stay true to this integrity. It’s what keeps her from bowing to just anyone’s influence. She can quickly catch on to inconsistencies and balks at them.

In a parent-child setting, this is where many conflicts arise because the parent does not understand the child’s reasoning. However, her reasons are highly important to her; and you should be open to hear them in order to understand her. Quite often she will have sound reasoning that she has thought through carefully.

If something doesn’t feel right to her, she will not do as you ask. If you give her the freedom to make her own choice within your limits, she will likely come up with the same solution you had in mind. In this case, make sure you don’t shame her in any way by basking in your victory. She has a level of self-confidence you don’t want to break.

Teach them to use their strong will to become influential leaders and stand firm for a good cause.

The strong-willed child is the one that becomes the trail-blazer or the change-maker. Their persistence is really a powerful tool for them to become the influential leaders who hold executive positions in successful companies and organizations.

These children often have tendencies to control their surroundings. You want your child to be strong-willed but not controlling in a negative way. As the parent to a strong-willed child, it is your challenge to guide them to use their driven spirit sensitively. Often they don’t know how their determination intimidates the kids around them and with your consistent guidance you can show them how to be considerate of the feelings of others.

Strong-willed children become our leaders.

Learning how to manage a strong-willed child is a journey on which many parents find themselves. It is a tough calling to raise up and funnel that independent spirit to become a strong, influential leader that uses his sense of integrity with self-control.

Instead of throwing in the towel and biding your time until he’s out of your house, look again at the strong character traits as gifts. Face your challenges together; grow another great leader.

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