As a parent of 2 young children, I can understand how frustrated one feels when facing challenges on parenting and don’t know who else to talk to… Hope the following tips help.
Children’s behavior typically changes as they move along the different developmental stages. This is because their socioemotional maturity goes hand-in hand with the growth and development of their physical and cognitive aspects.
Dealing with children is challenging enough as it is; dealing with strong willed children is definitely a tougher thing to do. The age groups that are usually associated with the phrase “strong willed children” are toddlers (terrible twos) and teens.
How to deal with strong willed children consists of understanding power struggles with children and creating more proactive relationships with them in hopes of preventing rather than coping with despair that parents might end up feeling.
4 Parenting Tips and Advice on How to deal with strong willed children:
1. Understand the relationship between power and trust
As with all kinds of relationships, there is always interplay of power and trust. Power is possessed by both parents and children. The trouble is that most parents think that they are entitled to have the most of it and forget about the other side to having power: trust. See, children at a young age should be able to learn to trust their parents: as protectors, role models and guides. Children’s level of trust in parents essentially become lowered because of two things: parents asserting too much power and parents giving children too much power.
The latter creates assertive or strong willed children with habits and attitudes that are quite difficult to break. So point is, learn to strike a balance between trust and power so that your children will still listen to you and respect you even if they have a strong willed personality.
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2. Know about children’s developmental characteristics
There are widely accepted theories on children that talk about developmental characteristics. It is important to know these characteristics so that you, as a parent will have a realistic expectation of your children and thus, know better how to deal with them. For instance, you cannot expect a toddler to listen to you the way older children should—their attention span and responding skill are just enough for a two year old. Also, your teenager may be exhibiting strong willed behaviour which is typical of teens asserting independence.
Sometimes, parents just think it’s wrong because their children are acting differently. But that is because they are changing and sometimes it’s part of their normal process. That’s why I cannot stress the importance of knowing the facts enough.
3. Address the behavioral manifestations, not the person
Your teenager may seem rebellious or your toddler may seem to not pay attention or your children get into too much trouble in school. Before you overreact, ask yourself, does it really bother your that they are “misbehaving” or does it bother your more that their behaviours reflect on your parenting?
Talk to your children and explain to them that their actions are inappropriate. Ask them to reflect on better actions to do in future similar circumstances. Remember, they are human beings with feelings too. You may need to be stern (and consistent) to get your message across but be careful to attack the wrong doing not your child as a person.
4. Let your children participate in small decision making
Power struggles with toddlers, teens and children in other age groups exist because parents tend to take total control of their children’s lives. Parents sometimes forget that children can make small decisions on their own. As a part of being a good role model for respect and getting the trust of your children, letting them participate in small decisions at home (i.e. what to have for dinner, what to wear) gives them the feeling that their opinions are valued and their voices can be hear. With this in mind, your children’s strong willed character can be softened into a more positive and participative one.
The real challenge is to put the knowledge into practice and stay consistent with your action. You must also learn the 4 mistakes you shouldn’t make on how to deal with strong willed children.
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