Tips for Parenting a Strong-Willed Child

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As an adult, if you’re strong-willed, you’re on the fast track to professional success, ticking off life goals and conquering challenges with no problem. However, labeling a child as strong-willed is almost always a bad thing, as they’re seen as stubborn, argumentative, and just downright difficult. So how do you parent a child with these negative labels?

Meet the Strong-Willed Child

Every child is a unique package, but if you’ve got a strong-willed one on your hands, you’ll notice some telltale signs. According to Erin O’Connor, EdD, the director of New York University’s early childhood education program, they’re a determined and persistent bunch.

They’ve got strong opinions, a bold streak of assertiveness, and a knack for challenging authority. Things like angry outbursts, stubbornness, bossiness, impatience, and selective hearing might make an appearance.

Embracing the Strengths

Sure, strong-willed children might give parents a run for their money, but being strong-willed isn’t necessarily a bad thing! According to Daniel Lee, Ph.D., from the University of Southern California, strong-willed kids are like little dynamos with tenacity, goal-setting prowess, and a healthy dose of grit. Those aren’t behaviors that need to be gotten rid of.

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These kids grow into adults with strong leadership skills, and they’re not easily swayed by the crowd; they stick to their guns and stand up for what they believe is right, even if it means going against the flow. So, strong-willed kids aren’t just a challenge; they’re a roadmap to success and leadership.

Choose Your Battles and Set Clear Expectations

Parenting such a kid is like navigating a battlefield of wills, but here are some tips to make things smoother. First of all, choose your battles wisely. You don’t have to go all-in every time; pick what matters most and let the rest slide.

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Clear expectations are also important. Kids thrive on boundaries and routines, so set clear and consistent rules while also giving your kid a taste of autonomy. Choices, not demands, are the key to making them feel empowered. You also shouldn’t use the classic “Because I said so” tactic.Strong-willed kids want to know the why behind your requests. Take a moment to share your thought process, treating them like the little adults they’re becoming.

Use Positive Reinforcement and Rewards

Experts also suggest using rewards positively to reinforce good behavior. It doesn’t always have to be about material things; sometimes, it’s about earning playtime or getting a shoutout for a job well done. Positive praise is also key.Shower them with acknowledgment for the little victories.

Whenever you’re feeling frustrated, remember that it’s a good thing your child wants to be independent and isn’t easily influenced. It will make life so much easier for them down the road, even if it’s more difficult for you now!