How to Handle a Strong-Willed Child

Parenting Styles
How to Handle a Strong-Willed Child

Dealing with a strong-willed child can be a source of endless frustration for parents. The constant defiance and attitude are enough to make you tear your hair out. But parenting a strong-willed child doesn’t have to be a daily struggle. With a few simple rules, you can learn to manage your child more easily.

It may not seem this way when you’re battling it out with your child to clean his room or do her homework, but strong-willed children actually crave boundaries. Most parents strive to provide structure and stability for their kids, but they can unconsciously be undermining their efforts by “letting” their child win. Allowing the child to get into a conflict with them only tells the child that there is no true order in the household.

One of the most important “rules” in dealing with a strong-willed child is to never give in to their demands. This is because these children view this bending of the rules in a different way than most. Most children view their parents giving in to them as being “given a break” and are grateful for the extra privileges. For the strong-willed child, a parent’s compromising on their ground rules is seen as a sign of weakness on the parent’s part. The child feels like he or she has “won”. The most effective way to handle this is to stand your ground and not try to give in to your child.

Another rule is to make it clear to your child that, when he or she disobeys or defies you, there will be punishment. This punishment should fit what they have done and not be based on empty threats of what you “will” do. It should happen immediately after the child has disobeyed. Don’t try to use long explanations or talking things out, as the child will probably tune you out and not care about your concerns.

The third rule is to always remind your child who is “in control.” As the parent, you are the one who tells your child what he or she should and should not do, not the other way around. Strong-willed children thrive on power struggles and proving they are “stronger” than Mom and Dad. Just remind your child what the rules are and why they should be obeyed. And most important, always remind your child that they are loved, even if they misbehaved.

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