Do I have a strong-willed child you ask? Believe me, if you are raising one, then you know. You know that simple tasks can have you in battle mode. There are times you just want to give up because it would be easier, but you don’t because you refuse to raise a bratty child who will hate you later.
There have been a myriad of books, articles and webinars about how to raise/deal with strong-willed children, but how many of them address what these kids need from their parents?
A few weeks ago, I wrote about an episode that I had with my strong-willed child that has forever changed how I parent. I wrote about it for a series entitled, What Motherhood Means to Me, on the Life of a Minister Mom blog. To read all about the time I lost control, click here.
Here’s a list of ways to meet the needs of strong-willed children:
However you decide to discipline (time out chair, time out in the bedroom, spanking, taking away toys, a combination of these, or something else of your choosing) be consistent! Children learn quickly who they can pull one over on. They will use this as their secret weapon against you if you don’t commit to being consistent. Don’t be afraid to mix and match either! Sometimes a time out in the bedroom along with taking away a blanket shows Melody that we really mean business.
You are their first picture of God and authority. When you are angry with them, they think you don’t love them. Melody has asked me many times, “Mommy why don’t you love me anymore?” I know you are saying “awww” as you read this, but at the time I was so frustrated with her that it didn’t break my heart. I still reassured her that I loved her regardless of whether or not it made me angry. You can use this moment as a teachable moment to tell them that you are disappointed, but you love them anyway.
This goes along with reassurance. Without love, discipline is pointless. Your children will listen as long as they are in your presence, but will explore other options when they are away from you. When your children understand that you are disciplining them because you love them, it will help them internalize the lesson you are attempting to teach them.
Under the age of 2, you can use gentle redirection and a soft voice. After 2, kids tend to test limits and boundaries. How many times have you seen a child look at their parent and do exactly what they’ve asked them not to do? Sometimes raising the octave in your voice shows that you mean business. When I say raise your voice, I don’t mean screaming. Screaming means that you have lost control. No judgement though. I’ve lost control a few times myself.
A way to channel their strongwillness.
Okay, so I know strongwillness isn’t a real word. But it describes everything that makes parenting that much more difficult. If your child loves to be active and explore, why not spend more time outdoors? Find an extracurricular activity that allows them to channel those things in a positive way. Is your toddler constantly making messes as you attempt to clean up? *Raising my hand* Let them help you take the clothes out of the dryer or sweep the kitchen. I don’t know a child that doesn’t thrive off praise. Allowing them the be involved in the day-to-day duties teaches them responsibility, while giving you an opportunity to praise them on a job well done.
Don’t forget the bigger picture.
Remember, teaching your child to obey you and respect authority is a lesson that will help them be successful in life. One day a boss will replace you as the authority figure. You can’t give up now! Your child’s future success is dependent on you staying focused on the bigger picture. Above all, children want to feel safe. They feel safe when you provide consistent boundaries.
Are you raising a strong-willed child? What tactics work for you? I’d love to hear about them-comment below! And while you’re doing that, follow the blog for more parenting tales.