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Parenting can be challenging – even more so if your child (or children) seems to be more difficult than others. While I don’t have all the answers, hopefully, these tips on how to deal with a strong-willed child will at least help a little bit.
Top Tips for Parenting a Strong-Willed Child
Strong-willed kids often become leaders because they are motivated and determined. Usually, a strong-willed child wants mastery. Thus, they use their energy in challenging, persistent ways, such as bad behavior, acting out, or throws a tantrum.
You just have to survive raising them first as littles before they become terrific teens and successful adults. These tried and true tips are great for all types of children but work exceptionally well with ones that are a little more spirited.
1. Keep Your Cool
Keeping your cool is one of the best positive parenting strategies to avoid power struggles. However, it’s also the most challenging (and sometimes exhausting) thing that a parent can do to make things better in the long run.
First of all, you’ll stop yourself from having knee-jerk reactions to your child’s behavior. You should approach discipline as calmly as possible so you don’t punish ineffectively or lash out yourself.
Besides being more effective, it also models good behavior. Often strong-willed kids also have trouble with impulse control, so it’s extra essential to see what self-control looks like.
Remember to sidestep power struggles. Kids can yell and scream. Just count to ten, or even put yourself in a “time out” for a few minutes before approaching a difficult situation with your child.
2. Understand Where They’re Coming From
Strong-willed kids are usually quite exceptional. Sometimes they also carry different diagnoses that make life a little more challenging. It’s essential to make sure your strong willed child isn’t having an outburst because of something that’s out of their control, such as sensory.
If you suspect a neural divergence like ADHD or SPD, read up on those conditions. Often there are slight modifications that can help set kids up for success. Even something like a speech delay can affect behavior in a young child.
It’s also vital, even with spirited neurotypical kids, that you keep your expectations managed. Keep it age-appropriate and based on what your child is capable of. For instance, a three year old child can respond differently than a four year old.
3. Establish Ironclad Routines
Some kids are amazing at rolling with the punches. Others have a hard time switching to a different routine. Thus, strong-willed kids do best with a consistent schedule, especially when it concerns your regular battlegrounds.
For example, while other kids might be OK staying up late one night, a strong willed child might use that as an opportunity to fight at bedtime for the rest of the week.
It might be tricky at first, but eventually, if your rules become set in stone, even the most tenacious kids will stop fighting by using routines.
4. Use the Magic of “When-Then”
Kids aren’t always great at listening – especially when they’re already upset. Children need positive discipline when trying to do peaceful parenting. One of the best things you can do when parenting a strong-willed child is switching to “when-then” statements.
Here is an example: “When you finish brushing your teeth, then you can have a book.”
It’s not peer pressure. Instead, it’s clear, it’s concise, and it does work. It not only helps parents be more clear about what they want, but it also offers no room for argument from the child.
5. Reward Good Behavior
If you don’t already have one set up, this is an excellent time to implement some kind of reward system for encouragement to do good. Do what works best for your family (and that you can stick to). Reward charts are an easy and effective option for them to make good strong-willed child choices.
When you first start with a reward chart, choose three things to accomplish and earn rewards for your child. At least two of them should be something your child usually does well. If they’re never earning rewards, the child won’t stay motivated to continue.
A fun way to reward and parent happy kids is to save their points for small prizes and outings. For example, ten minutes of extra screen time, a trip to the park, or pick up some small prizes and fill a prize box.
Taking points away for poor behavior is OK, but use it sparingly and only for kids over 7.
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.
This article originally appeared on Parent Portfolio.