Understanding what it means to be strong-willed
When I think of strong-willed I think of someone who is determined. Not easily swayed and eager for a nice debate. Most strong-willed children I’ve encountered encompass all of those characteristics. Even though raising a strong-willed child can be challenging at times I hope this blog post helps you recognize the benefits of strong-willed children and assist you in helping them listen.
How this translates to toddlers & preschoolers
Children are born with the need to defy authority. To us adults, this can be seen as disrespectful, but they engage in power struggles to determine where they fit in. Usually, when a child is immensely willful their favorite word is probably “NO!” And it’s not the no that actually means yes, it’s the no, that means “NO!” and they are willing and ready to go to bat. Later in the blog, I’ll give you my key advice in getting them to listen.
You might enjoy reading: Tackling Toddler Temper Tantrums
The benefits of being strong-willed
Having a strong-willed child can come with some negative connotation. I want to take some time to point out the benefits of strong-willed children.
- They tend to stick up for those who are being bullied
- They aren’t easily swayed (which pays off in those teenage years)
- They are eager to understand why, in other words, they won’t do something unless there is a good reason
- They can grow up to be phenomenal politicians, lawmakers, and dictators.
The key to getting strong-willed children to listen
Make sure they feel that you understand them. The easiest way to demonstrate that is to connect with them by verbalizing their current feelings. Most power struggles arise when children feel as if they don’t have an equal say-so in the matter. I believe that children wouldn’t engage in power struggles to gain a “higher rank” in the relationship unless they perceive that there is “ranking”. When making a decision keep the child involved in such a way that delivers a message that their opinion matters. When setting a limit with a strong-willed child I usually use this method:
(The child’s name) you want to__(the unwanted behavior or need that is being expressed)_____. That’s not safe. You can choose to ____(option #1 that I am okay with)____ or __(option #2 that I am okay with)______.
This method for setting limits helps the child participate in making a choice, they automatically feel as if they have power over their actions. As the adult, you agree to support any option because you suggested them. This method helps you remain in control but allows enough flexibility so the child can decide their behavior.
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Hi I’m Emily