5 Proven Ways To Build Resilience In Your Child
Raising A Strong Willed Child
Raising a strong-willed child can be a challenging & exhausting parenting journey.
It can feel like your days are filled with never-ending power struggles just to get your child to do basic tasks.
After awhile, you can feel that you don’t like how you’re showing up as a parent, & even have moments where you wonder if you like your own child.
But all is not lost.
By understanding your strong-willed child & using specific strategies with them, you can create a positive, connected relationship with your child.
A STRONG-WILLED CHILD
A strong-willed child is a child with a personality temperament that includes these traits:
- They want to learn things for themselves
- They are not easily swayed from their own opinion
- They’re constantly testing the limits
- They have passionate feelings including intense angry outbursts
- They are impatient & get frustrated easily
- They make their own rules & ignore warnings
- They refuse to do things they don’t want to do
- They like to be independent & in charge
If you are raising a strong-willed child, you may have found yourself using some of these words to describe them: difficult, stubborn, spirited, bossy, feisty, endless energy, persistent, determined, passionate, leader, enthusiastic, committed, confident, resourceful, or bold.
What a strong-willed child really wants is a sense of control, autonomy & mastery.
Although children with this personality temperament can be a challenge to parent while they’re young, they can grow into incredible human beings who lead & challenge the status quo of our culture.
We just need to survive the early years of parenting them!
THE BENEFITS OF A STRONG-WILLED PERSONALITY
Many times because we are caught up in the daily battles with our child, our frustrations can cause us to only focus on the challenges of a strong-willed personality.
But the truth is, there are also many benefits. These children are also:
- Think outside of the box
- Don’t play by the rules
- Self motivated
- Fiercely loyal
Research also shows that “disobedience” in childhood could be a sign of future success as these children tend to earn more money as adults, become educational overachievers & are more likely to become entrepreneurs.
(So in your moments of parenting frustration, remember your child is going to be rich some day! 😉 )
YOUR IMPORTANT CHOICE
When you are raising a strong-willed child, you will know that your child isn’t compliant or easily obedient to what you’re asking them to do.
This can be very triggering for many parents, especially if you grew up in a home that demanded obedience.
But if you want to raise your strong-willed child to obey your will without question, it is only going to end with endless power struggles & inevitably, unhealthy rebellion.
You need to decide what your goal is.
Is your goal to raise a compliant & obedient human being?
Or is your goal to raise a responsible, thoughtful human being?
You must choose your relationship with your child, over their obedience.
The most important thing for your child’s development and their long term success & happiness, is their connection with you.
This is not to mean that you don’t have boundaries or consequences for strong-willed children, but that your parenting value is relationship before rules.
If you focus on connecting with your child, this connection will build their resilience & also have you as a positive voice in their life as they grow older.
PRACTICAL STEPS TO RAISING A STRONG-WILLED CHILD
When you are dealing with the daily frustrations of raising a strong-willed child, it can be easy to only focus on the challenging side of the personality trait. When you remind yourself of the benefits (see the list above) you can balance your moments of frustration with knowing that you’re raising an incredible human being.
There are multiple ways to describe a personality trait. You can use words that build up your child, or words that de-validate who they are.
It is the difference between “difficult” vs “strong”, or “bossy” vs “confident”
By changing how you describe your child (both to them & also yourself) it will not only validate your child’s strengths, but it will also allow you to access more humor & patience around their behavior.
Are you also strong-willed? Do you find your child’s lack of obedience personally triggering?
Parenting a strong-willed child forces you to release personal control & let go of how you would like many things to look. This is particularly challenging if you are also a strong-willed individual.
Becoming aware of your own personality & personal background, it can help you take responsibility for your feelings with your child.
When your strong-willed child starts arguing with you, take a moment to listen carefully to what they really want. When we listen empathetically, it allows us to consider the world from another person’s point of view.
There is a difference between personal preference & boundaries.
Ask yourself – does it REALLY matter what they are fighting you about?
If it is an important parenting boundary, you must hold it. But if it is about personal preferences, allow them the control to make their own decision.
The more control & choice they feel like they have, will reduce the conflicts you have in other areas.
Strong-willed children have a high desire for control. You can give them a sense of control by offering them choices.
For example, with an younger child who doesn’t want to wear their sweater – “do you want to wear your sweater or shall I put it in your bag for school?”
For example, with an older child who doesn’t want to do their homework – “do you want to do your homework after dinner or do you want to do it before dinner?”
Strong-willed children want to learn by their own experiences (not by someone else telling them what to do). Let them explore & see things for themselves; while also allowing them to experience the consequences of their choices.
Allowing them to experience the consequences isn’t about punishing them for their decision, but rather not saving them from the natural consequences.
Get clear about what is and isn’t ok in your home. What are the routine, rhythms & values that matter most to you?
Strong-willed children want to test the limits, so it’s important that you are clear on where those limits are; so that you can hold your ground with important things & give them control when it doesn’t matter.
Give your child permission to have their own feelings & experience of the world. This experience will usually be different to yours. By validating their own experience, it will strengthen your connection with them.
Remember your strong-willed child is still your child. Despite often presenting as a child who doesn’t want or need you, deep down they still want to know you love them & think they’re amazing.
Focus on your connection with your child. If you find you are in non-stop power struggles, try going out by yourselves to do something they would enjoy, with the only purpose to connect & remember why you love each other.
Raising a strong-willed child is a challenging, exhausting, & highly rewarding journey, as you watch them grow into a confident, resourceful & incredible human being.