Dealing with Strong Willed Children

Friday, August 31, 2018 @ 12:47 PM

Parents who have strong willed children find parenting stressful. Power struggles occur and neither parent or child are successful. Children question parameters and respect, and parents question respect and obedience-with neither winning the battle. This article helps to provide parents with a few of the needed changes of their approach. More coping tools and like information can be procured with entering into parenting class or individual sessions offered by Glyndora Condon MS MFT LPC: Enjoy the article.

Strong. Willed. Children. Immediately what comes to mind is; defiance, rebellion, and other negative traits: yet some notable strong willed people to tribute are Peter and Ester of scriptures, along with many other scriptural individuals; Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, and like contributors or much positive discoveries. Strong willed children can be channeled by parents and this is a powerful and empowering construct!

How do we know that we have strong willed children? Let's take a stroll and please mark those issues that apply to yourself, your mate, or your children, Ready?
1. This person does not think anything is impossible and this person will attempt to conquer against all odds.
2. This person pushes at a pace as if a streak of lightening to get it done, one way or other.
3. Will argue to argue to see where all of it goes.
4. Easily bored and therefore will create a crisis.
5. Rules are thought of as guidelines and often too picky and unreasonable.
6. Creative and resourceful people.
7. Grand crusades from issues.
8. Will milk the situation when challenged, taking it as a dare; of which they accept the challenge.
9. Will take a simple request to a major issue in a millisecond.
10. Gifted with sarcasm.
11. If not given choice and threatened with a consequence; the person will accept the consequence to prove that one cannot make one do anything.
12. They want authority figures that will not allow them to bend the rules without consequence, the ability to follow through with quick resolve consistently which builds security and trust in the word of that authority person IF THE COMMUNICATION IS DELIVERED WITH RESPECT AND CALM RESOLVE-BUILDING RESPECT.
13. Lessons are often learned the hard way as repeated non compliance is chosen even when consequences are in place.

So how did you do with the above questions or statements? If you marked 8-10 then you have a potential trouble maker, lol; but 11-12 is a definite assessment of a strong willed person and often trouble maker due to the insatiable need to challenge and see where the limits really are. These strong people can be persuaded but not pushed.

Dictator commands and threats will drive the negative reactions since these are seen as challenges and disrespectful of them, They have no boss and cannot be forced to do anything. They will choose to die if needed to prove their point of their free will. They know you can't make them love you, obey you, or even make them eat good food. Spending time pleading and reasoning falls on deaf ears.

How do we then get things done, teach responsibility, life skills, and receive respect from these people?
Give choices. Be concise about what they are expected to do and what the consequences would be but with a positive twist.
An example of the delivery of a slight tweak of how to parent are as follows.

WRONG: I told you to clean your room. Clean it or you can depend upon losing your PHONE! Got it? (child rolls eyes and continues phone or screen; or laying around) Then the power match is on...with no winners.
RIGHT: Let's clean it up please.
WRONG: You can hate me and be angry all you want but you will do what I say! (Child thinks or says, nope; or make me)
RIGHT: Oh, I am sorry that you are angry at me; I guess that means you don't want cuddling time? (meaning-anger or not, I expect the work or request to be done promptly or there will be the consequence).
WRONG: Cut that tv (or other screen) off and do your homework! (Child-no, later, got to finish this first, or this is not fair!) Power struggle incurs.
RIGHT: Feel free to watch your favorite show on tv when the homework is done. (Child understands that there is a process expected and knows the consequence of no favorite show if they choose to procrastinate).
WRONG: Buckle your seat belt! (Child-NO, Buckle your seat belt NOW or else. Child NO), (Where does the parent go now with this? pleading? Threats, pull over and buckle it for them? Spanking? Either way, you could not make them do what they did not want to do).
RIGHT: Please put on your seat belt. (Child-no) Parent (Why?) Child (because it is too tight and I don't like it on). Parent- Okay so let's loosen it a little bit to help it to be more comfortable and put it on, okay? Okay, (The parent then has made a small compromise yet kept the resolve that the belt will be worn).

Wonder if the child still will not put their seat belt on? The law that the parent is subjected to is-All passengers and self must be seat belted or there will be a ticket. Parents can relay that message and show their resolve that they will comply with the law; then proceed to unload from the car. (If this is a situation where the family is planning to go to an activity the child wants to go to). This works like a charm. If to somewhere the child does not want to go-then the parent will need to give a consequence that fits this issue exchanging their next activity for this one with a resolve to not attend. Either way the auto does not leave the drive way. Perhaps all but the child and a parent leaves but the consequence of losing the privilege of going to their event is implemented.

A parent's job is to teach, hold their child accountable, and apply consequence; using modeling (example), specific rules and consequences to expect, while following through quickly if wrong choices are made. parents must teach life skills but more importantly character traits. A parent cannot make the child do anything and to have leverage then they need a relationship with their child. That relationship is vital and must be one with trust and respect. With prompt follow through and consistency while applying the consequence if the child chooses it-the child learns the limits earlier and will more likely choose the better choice. A parent who pleads and threatens their child repeatedly teaches procrastination and disrespect as the child begins feeling as if there are not limits and therefore is at higher risk to make negative choices as they face challenges that are likely to not be followed through-remaining dependent and deluded as to their invisibility.

I did some security work at one time, and was advised that if I wrote a ticket or contacted the police; then I did not need to give a warning since they had to pay the consequence of parking in a handicap area or stealing merchandise; but if I gave a warning and chose not to apply the consequence then the person's acceptance of that warning and following through with better conduct was expected and if that person violated the warning and grace the 1st time then they needed the consequence instead.

Teaching the child to be prompt in good choices, to discern, to be responsible for their choices is vital. The approach of this teaching is also most important. Consistency and clear expectations are absolutely necessary. Warnings are to include the expected behavior and the intended consequence should a wrong choice occur with encouragement to choose compliance but yet the choice is theirs. This warning needs to be brief, firm, without insulting or disrespectful remarks or attitude. It needs to be clear that we know we cannot make them choose the right choice and that they might choose the negative consequences of their choice to not comply but; we hope and pray that this will not occur-and yet we know that they may have to learn the hard way. It may take them a few attempts of noncompliance and suffering the consequence (fitting for the crime) before they choose that maybe they need to comply...and parents lovingly and greatfully receive their choice without "I told you so" or other igniting and challenging remarks. Avoiding power struggles are a must especially with older children who could very well walk out the door. Expect them to test your parameters.

Parents can simply say, "I know you have a choice and that you can choose the consequence. I hope you don't since it hurts me to see you hurting yourself-but I also love you enough to try to guide and teach you-the best that I know how-to be the best that you can be so that your future is awesome." This message implies and speaks love yet also speaks a resounding resolve to remain firmly planted upon one's boundary. The parent's love needs to be in their face, body, tone, and words.

Parents need their children to know that they love them so much that they will do anything to keep them safe and to teach them how to be successful with people and with responsibilities-no matter how hard this is-no matter how long it takes- even if it means that their children choose not to love them because parents are focused upon what is best for their children. It is never ever too late to love. Calmly apply the consequence.

There are many coping tools and strategies that aid parents with strong willed children. We can teach you. It is possible that nutrition issues are playing into this issue, or another strategy that involves more goals and point system is better for a child-which we can assist. What we know is this; there are too many warnings and not enough tickets today and this enables our youth and creates power struggles where all parties lose if continued.