In the world of childhood, there’s something special about a strong willed child – the spirited kid. Every child has their determination, but some stand out because they’re determined and strong-willed right from the start.
These spirited kids, often called strong-willed kids, bring a special kind of energy to how parents and teachers deal with them. And I have two at home. They like doing things in their own way and don’t easily give in.
Sometimes they’re impressive and you get surprised by their attitude and behaviour, especially that are only 4 years old. And other times, they can be a bit frustrating and really push your buttons.
Let’s dig into this world of strong willed child and how I’m learning to cope with it. These are the small but mighty ones who don’t follow the usual rules and are confident in their own choices.
We’ll look closely at what makes them who they are. Their determination isn’t about being rebellious but rather about being true to themselves. Along the way, I’ll explain what challenges were raised from my own experience and guiding my strong-willed kids.
I invite you to join me as we peel back the layers of their spirited personalities. We’ll learn about the ups and downs of supporting their uniqueness and how to help them use their energy for good things. Welcome to the world of strong willed children – where they’re full of energy, and there’s always something new to explore.
Table of Contents
What Is Considered a Strong Willed Child?
Whether it’s a positive or negative aspect, a strong willed toddler possesses a significant degree of independence. This might come across as them being sure of themselves, having confidence, and showing strong determination. However, it also brings along a touch of stubbornness, challenging behaviour, firm viewpoints, and a tendency to resist authority.
A spirited nature might sometimes be mistaken for defiance or stubbornness, yet children with strong wills possess numerous positive attributes. They frequently demonstrate the bravery to uphold their convictions, showcase innovation, and exhibit robust leadership capabilities.
What Are The Most Common Characteristics of A Strong Willed Child?
Before you conclude anything about your child, check if he/ she has most of these characteristics:
a. They refuse to do things they do not want to do
Children with strong wills can display unwavering determination, making it challenging to persuade or compel them into actions they resist. In my case, I’m always looking for new ways to approach my boys into doing things which they dont really want to do.
b. They are assertive
In most cases, strong willed children have a vision in their mind about how things should be and be done and they often look for ways to turn that perspective into reality. They are not shy about telling others what and when to do it.
c. They have intense angry outbursts
Every child has tantrums, however a strong willed child exhibits intense anger that does not subside easily. They often have a low tolerance for transitions or sudden changes.
d. They are impatient
My boys are hating waiting for anything, either we are at the shop or waiting for their turn to play. They are extremely impatient and want things to be done quickly.
e. They ignore warnings
It may seem that strong willed children are good at selective hearing and tune out what they don’t want to hear. I’ve learned that warnings or threats aren’t do it, so my advice explain the rules clearly and then enforce it.
f. They demand to know why
One of the things about strong willed kids is they want to know why they can’t do something or why you have set certain limits. They question rules and decisions. Your approach should be to explain them why is that and not just go for the “because I’ve told you so” approach as it will fail.
Top Tips For Peacefully Parenting A Strong-Willed Child
Your strategy cannot be run-of-the-mill or defined by popular but unproven parenting tips. Observe your child, educate yourself, and customize your approach towards him/ her. That’s why I’ve start reading and writing about parenting tips, I’m educating myself while I’m helping others.
1. Listen to them
As grown-ups, it’s natural to believe that we possess the best understanding. And, I’m guilty of being strong willed and sometimes I have difficulties in accepting other ones suggestions.
However, a spirited child will hold on to their perspective, attempting to safeguard what holds significance for them. To comprehend the reasons behind their opposition, it’s essential to listen and understand what their viewpoint is.
Put yourself in their shows. Approach them with open-minded curiosity and recognition of their emotions and wishes. Keep in mind that empathy and compassion don’t require an agreement.
2. A strong willed child learns through experience
That means they need to personally check if the stove is hot. Unless you’re concerned about a major injury, it’s better to let them learn by doing rather than trying to make them follow your instructions.
Also, be ready for your strong-willed child to keep pushing boundaries, as that’s how they learn. Knowing this can help you stay relaxed, which is good for your relationship and your own peace of mind.
3. Give them choices
From my experience, I’ve learned that if I tell them what to do, they’ll do actually the opposite or react negatively by phasing out. In the fairness, nobody likes to be told what to do.
However, if I’m giving them options, they will react better as they make their own decisions and learn from them. Make sure you only suggest choices that you’re okay with and don’t feel frustrated by giving up your control. This approach lets them feel like they have some control over their choices.
4. Avoid power struggles
Avoid enforcing your will and views and for sure looking to “break their will” is not something you want. You want them to do what you want, but you need to allow them to have their own pace and approach to it. Avoid enforcing or threating them into your compliance. Respect is what is being tested and you are a role model.
5. Encourage them to take charge
If you are looking to get a competent and independent child, you need to make them feel that are in-charge of themselves. A strong willed child takes responsibility early in life and is really determined into achieving his goals.
If one of my boys doesn’t want to do something at one point, I will try to hold my instinct into enforcing on them to do it. A better approach, is to teach them that they can do it later and would be better to have that in their mind. A good example is when they need to wear an extra layer in a cold morning.
Tips For Disciplining Your Spirited Child
a. Get a routine in place
Any child will benefit from having a structured day, clear communication and beforehand preparation – explaining what you are doing and what are your expectations. And of course, them getting enough sleep is a must. If they are tired, they will be cranky and will get frustrated quicker.
b. Use a firm but warm tone
I know is quite difficult to keep your composure and not to raise your voice when they are pushing your buttons, but a sharp tone can push them into the fight-or-flight mode. So, having a firm tone is the way to go.
c. Keep your consistency when comes to consequences
Probably is one of the best advices and most heard ones when comes to parenting: Be consistent in the application of your decision. If you’ve said something you need to do it, especially when comes to disciplining your kid.
A toddler will work and try your boundaries, and if once you’ve said something and you didn’t do it, they will try it again. Confidence in your decision is crucial.
d. Discipline through bonding, not punishment
Any child will shout off and will ignore you during a stressful time, such as a being in a middle of a dispute. What you need to do, and I’ve done this and truly works, is to take a deep breath and acknowledge his/her emotions and help them express their mood, either is anger, fear, disappointment, etc.
The more you fight and punish your strong willed chid, the more they feel undermined and the warm connection with you slowly is eroded. Remember, your child will most likely do what you do instead of what you say.
Some Useful Resources on Parenting a Strong Willed Child
- Kids are worth it!: Giving your child the gift of inner discipline — by Barbara Coloroso
- Raising your spirited child: A guide for parents whose child is more intense, sensitive, perceptive, persistent and energetic — by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka
- Effective discipline for children – by Paediatric Child Health Journal