"Difficult" "Stubborn" "Bossy" These are just some words are used to describe a strong willed child. Strong willed children like to have control over their life and can have a tendency to rebel or get angry if we try to control their actions. They want to learn for themselves instead of listening to what others have to say and will often do this by testing the limits constantly. They want to be in charge of their life and above all just want to be right.
Raising a strong willed child can be trying at times, they are prone to power struggles with their parents. The role of a parent is to teach your children the skills they will need later in life and trying to teach someone who is convinced they don't need to be taught might mean you need to get a little creative. So what does it mean to have a strong willed child and what can we as parents to guide them?
Characteristics of a strong willed child may include:
Strong willed children work to their own timetable. They aren't overly excited about waiting in line for their turn at a game or in the grocery shop. They work on a right now time frame. Just remember 1 hour is a VERY long time to a 2 or 3 year old and especially long for an impatient child!
💪Bossy and controlling
Children working to their own timetable can be quite bossy and controlling as they have a vision in mind as to how everything should be and they will often plan way to make this a reality. They have no issue telling everyone around them what to do and have no problem instructing the adults in their life.
💪 Eager to learn by themselves
This means they are no so good at listening to warnings they don't want to hear such as "be careful" "walk instead of run please". If they are not interested they will simply just ignore you. Strong willed children have selective hearing and are very good at tuning out anything that doesn't suit their "plan".
💪Make their own rules
Strong willed children will make their own rules and when you say that its time for bed they will more than likely tell you they'll go to bed when they're tired . They prefer to make their own guidelines rather than follow those of an authority figure such as a parent.
💪Temper Tantrums (See more on this in our Tantrums blog)
Children with a strong will can easily get overwhelmed and stressed out when things don't go their way or according to their "plan" and with big emotions come tantrums especially when they don't get their way.
Any parent raising a strong willed child will tell you that they are excellent debaters and very good at finding loopholes and exceptions to the rules. You shouldn't be surprised when they bring up that time you justified lying when you said it was wrong to swear but they hear you swear that one time.
How can we as parents assist our strong willed children?
👉 Encourage problem solving
Everyone needs to learn how to wait its a big part of life so it important to help your strong willed child learn this. Planing ahead can help with this, giving them the option bring something to do while they are waiting. By giving them the option they still feel in control of the situation.
As mentioned above strong willed children this very much to be in control of their own life. So we need to be able to guide them while also still making them feel as though they are still in control by offering them choices and seeing what they would like to do or how they would like to handle the situation. However we need to make sure we aren't using open ended questions as this can make then feel overwhelmed. Instead of "What would you like for dinner?" say "Would you like pasta or sausages for dinner tonight".
👉Listen with intent
All children deserve to have their side of the story heard and strong willed children are no different, they feel VERY strongly about what they have to say. We need to make sure that we are listening with intent, sit down with them in a quiet area without distractions and look them in the eye while they are talking. You may need to implement some guidelines around who talks when but if you chose to do this then make sure you create these guidelines with them rather than for them.
👉 Avoid making to many rules
Having to many rules will overwhelm a strong willed child and therefore they are much less likely to comply. Make sure you focus on the important rules only and avoid power struggles over minor issues learn to pick your battles and allow your child to face natural consequences when possible.
We hope you found this information useful and feel free to leave us a comment below and let us know your thoughts