While on the way to school this morning, my five-year-old daughter told me that the trees were naked because their leaves had fallen off after a windy fall evening. She is incredibly creative, intuitive, and observant, and she also happens to be quite strong-willed.
When I saw this Washington Post article about the benefits of having a strong-willed child, I was interested in reading it because I generally agree with the idea and I am always looking for ways to support my daughter’s healthy development and to provide arguments for those who do not believe in children’s rights. The article emphasizes that many successful entrepreneurs are free-thinking individuals who never take no for an answer and that these traits are actually skills.
I understand that many people believe that children need discipline, structure, and routine in order to prevent them from getting hurt or taking advantage of others. However, this article argues that blindly following authority without questioning it can have negative consequences, and that it may not always be best to push children to comply with everything.
How you define a strong willed child
A strong-willed child is a child who is determined, independent, and has a strong sense of self. These children may be more likely to stand up for what they believe in and may be resistant to authority or rules that they do not agree with. While parenting a strong-willed child can be challenging at times, there are also many benefits to having a child with these traits.
Some benefits of having a strong-willed child include:
- Independence: Strong-willed children tend to be more independent and self-motivated, which can lead to success in various areas of life.
- Problem-solving skills: Strong-willed children may be more likely to challenge the status quo and think outside the box, which can lead to innovative problem-solving skills.
- Persistence: Strong-willed children are often determined and persistent, which can help them achieve their goals.
- Confidence: Strong-willed children may be more confident in their abilities and less likely to be swayed by the opinions of others.
- Leadership skills: Strong-willed children may be more likely to take charge and be leaders in various situations. Many successful entrepreneurs and leaders are strong-willed individuals who never take no for an answer.
It’s important to note that strong-willed children may also have their own unique challenges and may require different parenting approaches than other children. However, by nurturing and supporting their independence and individuality, parents can help strong-willed children grow into confident and successful adults.
As a mother of a strong-willed child and an advocate for peaceful parenting, I have found that the following tips can be helpful in managing life with children who may sometimes say no.
Pick your battlers.
You want him to wear blue pants, but he wants green? Of course. But will that really mean the family dinner will happen or not? No. So save your energy for when he wants to wear swim trunks in the snow. Yes, they won’t fit perfectly, and no, you don’t have to force everyone to change to his liking, there will just be a day when you disagree. No shame, no harm, no foul.
Give them a chance to explain themselves.
The great thing about strong-willed children is that they often see the world differently than the rest of us. It’s amazing, and it’s exactly what could make them millionaires someday. Sometimes they want you to explain things to them so you understand how things are in their head. It’s a great opportunity to help them feel closer to you, while giving you a chance to also tell them how it goes in your head. It helps develop empathy, and is a trait that strong-willed children may need help mastering. When my daughter was about 4 years old, she wrote our address this way.
At the time, we lived on Shallow Water Place. Get it? Shallow WATER. This made perfect sense in her head, and without asking her, I might not have known that. I love getting to see the inner workings of her brain.
Don’t take it personal.
It’s important not to take things personally when it comes to parenting a strong-willed child. Other people may not understand your child’s behavior or may judge you for it, but it’s important to remember that your value as a parent is not determined by whether your child wants their hair cut or is wearing a matching outfit. It’s normal for strong-willed children to act in ways that others may not understand, and it’s important to focus on your own parenting goals and values rather than worrying about what others may think. So, don’t take your child’s strong-willed nature or the judgment of others personally.
There are some people who believe that strong-willed children need to be “broken” or tamed in order to be well-behaved. However, these children have their own unique characteristics and should be appreciated and respected for who they are. It’s important to remember that strong-willed doesn’t mean that a child doesn’t have feelings or can’t be hurt by others. In fact, strong-willed children may feel things very deeply and may be hurt when people try to silence them or make them conform to certain expectations. It’s important to protect your child’s feelings and to not let their strong personality be broken for the sake of compliance.
Parenting approaches for strong-willed children
There are a number of parenting approaches that can be effective for raising a strong-willed child. Some of these approaches include:
- Positive discipline techniques: Instead of relying on punishment or negative consequences, positive discipline techniques focus on teaching children new skills and behaviors in a positive and nurturing way. This can include setting clear expectations, using positive reinforcement, and helping children learn from their mistakes.
- Setting limits and boundaries: It’s important for strong-willed children to understand that they have boundaries and limits, but it’s also important to allow them to make their own decisions within those boundaries. This can help them learn to be independent and responsible.
- Encouraging independence and self-direction: Strong-willed children tend to be more independent, so it can be helpful to allow them to make their own decisions and take charge of their own learning and development. This can include giving them choices, allowing them to take on age-appropriate responsibilities, and encouraging them to explore their interests.
By using these approaches, parents can help strong-willed children develop important life skills and become confident and responsible individuals. It’s important to remember that each child is unique and may require a different approach, so it may be helpful to experiment with different techniques to find what works best for your child.
Challenges of parenting a strong-willed child
Parenting a strong-willed child can present a number of challenges. Some of these challenges include:
- Managing challenging behaviors: Strong-willed children may be more likely to engage in challenging behaviors such as disobedience, defiance, or argumentativeness. It’s important for parents to set clear limits and boundaries and to use positive discipline techniques to address these behaviors in a constructive way.
- Dealing with power struggles: Strong-willed children may push back against authority or rules that they do not agree with, which can lead to power struggles with parents. It’s important for parents to be consistent and fair in their expectations and to avoid engaging in power struggles with the child.
- Supporting the child’s unique personality: Strong-willed children have their own unique personality traits and may require different parenting approaches than other children. It’s important for parents to be flexible and to find what works best for their child.
By understanding and addressing these challenges, parents can better support their strong-willed child’s healthy development and well-being. It’s also important for parents to seek support and guidance from other resources, such as parenting classes or therapy, if needed.
There are a number of strategies that parents can use to be successful in raising a strong-willed child. Some of these strategies include:
- Building a positive relationship with the child: Building a strong, positive relationship with your strong-willed child can help create a foundation of trust and understanding. This can include spending quality time together, listening to your child’s thoughts and feelings, and showing them love and affection.
- Providing consistent and fair discipline: It’s important to be consistent and fair in your discipline with a strong-willed child. This can include setting clear limits and boundaries, using positive discipline techniques, and avoiding power struggles.
- Encouraging open communication: Encouraging open and honest communication with your strong-willed child can help you understand their perspective and can also help them feel heard and respected. This can include actively listening to your child, asking open-ended questions, and being open to feedback.
By using these strategies, parents can create a positive and supportive environment for their strong-willed child and can help them develop important life skills and become confident and successful individuals. It’s important to remember that each child is unique and may require a different approach, so it may be helpful to experiment with different strategies to find what works best for your child.