We should have known our second son would be the polar opposite of his brother. After all, sickness loomed for the entire nine months and once he was born things never calmed down. At the age of two, my husband and I discovered we had birthed a force to be reckoned with. He was strong-willed and stubborn. To this day this character trait has yet to change.
I remember crying often in those first few years. I pleaded with God to show me how I was supposed to parent someone who seemed to care less about consequences or anything but his own desires. Little did I know that it was in those hard moments and seemingly endless days God was actually working on me. Eventually my husband and I both learned that our strong-willed little guy was given to us to mold not him, but us. To remind us that even we are a bit too strong-willed for our own good.
Many times strong-willed children are labeled problematic. Children that simply must be filled with nothing but selfish ambitions. The world instantly views the parents as weak and somewhat lazy. The fact is that a lot of times a strong-willed child is simply misunderstood and the parents are truly trying.
5 Tips for Raising a Strong-Willed Child
- Listen before we react. This is a hard one to choke down sometimes. Strong-willed children need to feel like they are being heard, just like any other child or adult. When they feel over-looked and ignored they will lash out and react.
- Ask a lot of open-ended questions. While you are listening make sure to ask a lot of questions. Repeat what they are saying to you and dare to dig deep. Most of the time, you will walk away with a healthier insight to the way your child processes situations.
- Strive to minister to your child’s heart. Take time to truly talk to them in words they will understand. Pray with them over a situation. Explain in great detail why a particular action is wrong. Give examples and even ask questions while you are explaining to help them fully understand.
- Praise more than complain. Strong-willed children crave praise and if they don’t get it, they will get attention any way they can. However, we want our children going to bed knowing they are loved above all else. They need these praises to be reminded it is OK to be different and it is OK to be against the norm.
- Take the time to breathe, relax and recharge. I know it may seem impossible, but try to do it anyway. Sneak in a bubble bath, read a chapter in a book, enjoy a late night bowl of ice cream or just hide in your closet. Whatever you choose to do, just make sure to take some time for you, so that you can give your very best to them.
Raising a strong-willed child
can is hard. However, the rewards are far greater than anything we face even on our bad days. Just cling to God and enjoy the ride.