Raising the Strong-Willed Child

imageI became really spoiled after I had my first child. She was a very mild mannered, laid back, self soothing, smiling, loving baby. Everyone told me how lucky I was because she rarely cried, she was on a good sleeping schedule very early on, and as she grew she was easy to handle and well-mannered. Fast forward 5 years, and it was time for baby #2.

Almost immediately I could see the difference between my two girls. My new born was the complete opposite of her sister. She was very demanding, cried a lot, and wanted to be held all the time. Often times I would have to wear a Baby Bjourn with her in it to even wash dishes or sweep. Talk about stressing a mom out! When she turned about six months old, her impatience began. She wanted what she wanted, how she wanted, when she wanted or there was going to be trouble. Now, I’m a loving, stern, “because I said so” mom. We had a huge problem!

I loved my child, but I didn’t like her. GULP….that was hard to admit. I mean what kind of mom can say that?! I would literally sit on the porch stairs and cry almost every day and think “Lord, I can’t do this!” Luckily, one day while at the pediatrician’s office, I saw an article in a half ripped magazine that read “Conflicting Personalities in parents and their children.” I was intrigued. It covered intellectual parents vs. sporty child, neat parents vs. messy kid, laid back parent vs. strong willed child, among others.I quickly realized that my child was strong willed.

Strong willed children are often described as impatient, bossy, argumentative, manipulative, fussy, and difficult. I found many of these things to be true with my daughter. She had mood swings of anger and frustration and had a hard time expressing her anger in an appropriate way. She was always very particular about how things were going. She doesn’t like to wait for anything. She always wants to be right, and more importantly to prove me wrong. No amount of discipline would work. If I fussed, she shut down. If I begged, she shut down.  I could promise her the sun and the moon, but if I was going against her I was wasting my breath.Finally, after some research, I figured out a few things.

Strong-willed children need to feel like they’re understood and that their opinion matters. Sometimes all it takes for my child to snap out of her “mood” is for me to allow her to vent to me and explain why she’s feeling this way. I may not agree with how she’s acting, but usually I can understand and relate to her feelings. Verbalize to your child that you do understand! After that, suggest ways they may fix the situation, or offer another option that your child can agree with.

Getting cooperation with your child usually requires giving them choices, but only offer them choices that still end in the desired result. For instance, I have  a list of certain things that must be done every night before my daughter can go to bed. It’s up to her in what order she does them and how long it takes her do them. She is in control of her time. If she takes too long, her TV or free time decreases.

Make sure they know what to expect. From my experience, my child does so much better when she knows ahead of time if something is changing. For example, if every Tuesday night the family goes to the grandparents’ to eat dinner, but this Tuesday night you have a business meeting to attend, let your child know ahead of time and explain why you’re not going to Grandma’s and that the family will go the next Tuesday. Generally, my daughter will be much more level headed and calm because she was included in the plan making. Crisis averted.

Stand your ground. It can be really easy to give in and let your child have their way because you’re tired of hearing the fussing, but if it’s an issue that you feel matters don’t back down! You certainly want your child to feel that they’re a vital part of your family and can have their own opinion. They need to realize tho that you are the commander and chief and have their best interest at heart. With that being said….

Realize that everything isn’t life or death. If your child wants to wear her fuzzy pink sweater with her green and purple polka dotted shorts and black and white Mary Jane’s….who cares. She needs to figure out her own style! Anyone that has kids can relate! If she refuses to eat her dinner, explain to her that she will be hungry if she doesn’t eat and if she still refuses to eat, let her go to bed. She will soon realize, and hopefully learn, that she doesn’t like being hungry and will eat her dinner from now on.

Happily, my daughter and I now get along amazingly (most of the time). And it’s wonderful! I see her being a leader and doing great things one day! Smart, determined, organized, outspoken, and self-assured….sounds like a natural born world changer to me!

Whew!! That was alot guys! If you’ve made it through this L O N G post, thank you!! This post is really close to my heart and I hope it helps someone.

If you have any similar stories, or suggestions, or questions, please drop me a comment!

Love to you all! XOXO