Both of my children were given to me with incredibly strong personalities…
As I journey through the ups and downs of motherhood, I have compiled the following list of reminders for myself. I hope you find these tips helpful as you raise your own strong-willed child.
Ah, the old adage, “be patient”. I’ll be the first two admit, when my child is throwing a major tantrum, patience is the last thing on my mind.
When our child is behaving inappropriately, it can be very difficult to muster up some patience. Our instinct is to sharpen our voice, make whatever discipline threats come to mind, while simultaneously attempting to diffuse the situation.
When raising a strong-willed child, patience is key. A strong-willed child, at least in my own personal experience, feeds off of our emotions. One of the Merriam-Webster Dictionary’s definitions for the word patience is to “bear pains or trials calmly without complaint”.
Let’s keep this in mind the next time we are in a frustrating situation with our child. Instead disciplining in anger, take a deep breath and remember the moment will soon pass.
KEEP YOUR COOL
React calmly when your child’s behavior is at its worse. If you are riled up and agitated, your child will become increasingly more riled and agitated. A strong-willed child is extremely sensitive, but also very tender-hearted.
If you keep your calm, your child will probably settle down more quickly. The next time your child is in the midst of a tantrum, try holding them in your arms and responding in a calm, gentle voice. Chances are, they will quickly settle and be more willing to listen.
GET DOWN TO THEIR LEVEL
A strong-willed child wants to be heard. When you see your child becoming frustrated, get down to their level and listen. Even if the outcome is not what they desired, because you took the time to acknowledge their feelings, your child will be more likely to comply.
GIVE THEM A LITTLE “EXTRA”
A strong-willed child is usually very emotional. According to my mother, I was a strong-willed child, so I can relate! We all need attention to thrive, but probably more so with the strong-willed child. Make sure that you are taking the time to focus on them individually throughout the day.
Trust me when I say, those days of snuggles and cuddles will not last forever, so take advantage of them now. Children grow up so quickly. Keep heart that the difficult stages, phases and trials will soon be history.
CHOOSE YOUR BATTLES
Let’s be real, not every battle is worth the struggle. Oftentimes, if the situation is one that I can let slide, I will.
If it is not harming them in any way, sometimes the wisest thing we can do with our children is to validate their needs and just give in. On the other hand, if the situation requires your immediate attention, make sure you are responding to your child appropriately.
Along with choosing your battles, make sure that you are being consistent in your discipline. Whatever your preferred method, when the situation merits discipline, follow through. This one was, and still is, incredibly difficult for me. I found myself constantly threatening discipline, but never actually giving the discipline.
I was the queen of giving just one more chance. You know the saying “if you give an inch, they will take a mile”? This definitely rings true in my own home. Now, I give one warning, so they know that their behavior is unacceptable. If the bad behavior continues, I will follow through with some form of discipline.
It has taken a bit to see results, since my children were conditioned to me giving in, but I am starting to see better behavior on their part. We want our children to respect us as parents and authority figures in their lives, and this will only happen through the love and disciplining of our children.
PRAY FOR THEM
Take the time to bring your children before the Lord in prayer. Be an example and a role model in your child’s life, and they will mimic your behavior.
I make it a point to pray in front of my children and include them in my daily prayer. I want them to see a Godly example in me, and I hope this will shape them into Godly adults in the future.
Be positive, this too shall pass. A strong-willed child will one day become a strong-willed adult. The characteristics that seem challenging now, will shape them into great leaders and future world-changers.
Have heart, you are doing a great job! Parenting is difficult and challenging, and we will always question and second-guess. But remember, it is also the most rewarding responsibility we have been given.