Strong willed children are a unique challenge for parents. For some reason, it seems as if they are specifically wired to challenge everything authority asks of them. However, those same children are amazing adults. The trick is getting them from the experimenting toddler to the confident adult without everyone going crazy. I pulled the following four suggestions from a mom who has been there. Tricia Goyer is a mom who works with Family Life, a ministry designed to help parents. She and her husband raised a strong willed daughter. Listen to her suggestions and see if you can see a common thread which will give you wisdom in shepherding your child’s heart:
- Narrow your child’s choices. Instead of offering a blue cup and her demanding a green one, I’d offer both colors and let her pick from those two. Of course she’d then want the red cup, but I didn’t give in. She had to pick between the two. This worked for clothes and snacks and other things. I’d still give my daughter a choice, but I’d limit those choices. After a while the battles stopped. She soon understood that I wouldn’t give in to her whines.
- Prepare your child for interaction. If we were going to church I’d explain possible things that could happen, such as people introducing themselves or commenting on her pretty dress. I’d role-play the correct response with her. And then I’d reward her when she responded correctly. I soon discovered that with some instruction my daughter not only responded correctly, but she also soon came out of her shell and became a chatterbox.
- Stand by your word. Even if my daughter disagreed or challenged me, I didn’t give in. I learned that
giving in was showing her that a bad attitude would get her what she wanted—and that’s not what I wanted to reward. Once that no longer worked, she soon discovered that behaving well got her the best results.
- Focus your child’s strong will on positive things—like academics, piano, and friendships. I gave her the tools to excel in things she was good at, using her will as a benefit. And when the going got tough, she dug in.
Did you notice the common thread? We, as parents, need to have wills that stand firm yet are not angry with our strong willed children. Will you pour the time and energy into these amazing children? Let’s do it together!
Here’s to families,