The leaders of tomorrow are headache-inducing, strong-willed toddlers of today. Their determination, ambition, and spirit will surely bring them success in the future, but they can be difficult to parent. It is likely that, if you have one, you knew very early on that your child had a strong personality! Not to say it is a bad thing; your child has the drive to solve problems and is not afraid to advocate for themselves. However, when our agendas or schedules collide with theirs, the situations we find ourselves in are often frustrating. There is a fine line between disciplining a strong-willed child and breaking their spirit, and we will show you how to walk it.
How To Nurture a Strong-Willed Child
If you have an outspoken child prone to questioning authority and testing the limits, it is important not to break their spirit. By being firm and consistent, they will learn to follow the rules. However, they also need the opportunity to voice their opinions about these rules and feel heard. This is done by establishing mutual respect and making a safe space for discussions. Another way to make parenting a stubborn child easier is to give them several options. If your child feels they have some control over their situation, they will be much happier overall.
Be Firm And Consistent
When we are worn thin, it can be easy to cave to incessant requests and badgering. However, there are some rules that your child needs to know are firm. If you give your child the same response every time, they will learn that it is a steadfast rule. Children, stubborn and complacent alike, thrive with consistency. When they ask again for something that’s out of bounds, remind them of the rules and redirect them to something else. Being firm and consistent applies as much to how you respond to your child as it does to you following those rules. Children learn by watching; they mirror behaviors they see. If you want your child to respect you, the first step should be respecting them. This leads us to our next point.
Give Them A Voice
Teach your child to voice their opinions but teach them to do it with respect. By actively listening and valuing their point of view, you can create a safe space to discuss why the rules are what they are. According to Deborah Song, your relationship with your child will be stronger for cultivating this space of trust instead of justifying your position solely on authority and correctness. By discussing how they feel and letting them challenge boundaries, you will teach them to address emotions and think critically. These skills will help them communicate throughout their lives and assisting them in pushing boundaries of all kinds. It is no surprise that these independent children, the ones who disrupt the status quo, turn out to be the best leaders, entrepreneurs, and innovators.
Ideally, through this dialogue with your child, there will be mutual understanding and compassion. Your child craves respect and will appreciate there being multiple options in any situation. This doesn’t mean that the rules are thrown out the window; vegetables will be eaten and baths will be taken. It simply means that they get to choose which vegetable they would like to eat or if they would like a few more minutes before they bathe. Giving them their sense of autonomy will save you a lot of strife. When meeting your child first with compassion, they will be more open to your guidance.
Watch Them Soar
There are plenty of upsides to having a child who is impervious to peer pressure, is naturally independent, and challenges authority figures. They are dynamic individuals who will achieve great things. By making sure to nurture their headstrong spirits by acknowledging who they are and what their potential is, we are sure to see them rise to great heights.