If your child is strong-willed, you didn’t have to wait until they turned to figure that out.
Whether they are two, ten and in their teens, a strong-willed child is to say the least…challenging.
But as you raise your precious little bundle of determination, please remember that strong-willed isn’t equal to ill-willed. A strong-willed child is not a bad child…just one who wants to have his/her way, press the envelope and think he/she is always right.
One sweet mom asked, “How do you make a strong-willed 2 year old obey?”
It’s a questions moms have asked from the beginning of time. In fact, I have a feeling Eve even battled with a strong-willed toddler.
There is no “one size fits all” kind of answers to this question. In fact, it’s a question that has plagued the hearts of mommas from the beginning of the human race. But there are some helpful hints that can improve your chances at parenting a strong-willed child well.
Here are 5 tips to help you in your journey as you strive to help your strong-willed child become strong:
1 Understand and remember the positives of a strong-willed child. There are a great deal of positives about the character of a strong-willed child. They are typically focused, motivated, doers who are not easily intimidated or persuaded. That’s the stuff leaders are made of. They are people who are not afraid to take risks and often accomplish much.
We typically associate the term ‘strong-willed’ with something negative, but it’s not negative at all. It’s a positive character trait that requires a strong sense of direction from strong parents who are able to channel their child’s determination in the right direction.
2. Understand and remember that ALL wills start in the heart. Parents of strong-willed child tend to be so busy reacting to behavior that they are too tired to consider making a plan to understand and mold their child’s heart. It’s not easy, but journaling your child’s behavior will help you discover what makes him/her tick. What is your child passionate about? What does he/she respond to? What is your child’s love language?
One mom asked, “How can I get my 2 year old to stay in bed? I’ve tried everything but he is so strong-willed. Nothing seems to work.”
We can’t be sure why exactly her baby boy makes bedtime a nightmare for his momma, but perhaps his reluctance to stay in bed has little to do with being string-willed and much to do with being afraid or not wanting to be alone or needing some quality time.
One idea that might help is after you have had your night time routine, put your child in bed and tell him you expect him to stay in bed. Let him know you will be sitting by the door and if he gets out of bed, you will put him right back in bed. When he gets up (and he will!) calmly point back to the bed, walk him over there tuck him in, kiss him again and tell him to stay in bed. You may end up doing this little routine 4 to 5 times a night for 2 to 3 weeks, but eventually it will work…at least most of the time it will. But remember…there is no ‘one size fits all’ solutions to a strong-willed child.
3. Strong-willed children need strong parents. When a child’s will is stronger than his/her parents, the child automatically wins…hands down. Strong-willed children need parents who are consistent, who say what they mean and mean what they say, who lovingly lead the heart of their children to be the leaders God created them to be. Parents whose “no” means “no” and whose “yes” means “yes.” Parents who are students of their children and know how to direct their child’s heart well. Parents who don’t bend to their child’s will but are able to stand their ground and help their children take ground for their future.
4. Set limits as well as goals. Strong-willed children push the limits but need goals that will push them to become all they were created to be. Limits can only be made and enforced by strong parents, so number three is a definite prerequisite to setting limits and making goals. Set definite limits. If your strong-willed child is pushing the envelope on a boundary you have established for him/her, then your response has to be consistent. But parents sometimes focus on the limits and forget about setting goals to help develop positive behavior.
Set goals in the areas of their character, their interests, their weaknesses and their strengths.
5. STOP trying to break a child’s will and focus on molding his/her heart. We’ve heard it said, “Break a child’s will without breaking his spirit.” Why would you break a child’s will when it is God who has given him/her a strong will in the first place? Your sweet child was born with a determined heart because it is the character trait God gave them. The goal of a momma (or a dad) is not to break their child’s spirit, but to mold it…to train that precious soul in the way he/she should go.
I know we’ve heard it before and perhaps even believed it…but isn’t it time we stop trying to break our children’s will and begin molding it instead?
Finally, sweet mom…you will accomplish more on your knees than you will ever accomplish any other way. Pray. Pray like crazy. Never give up. Never give in. Just pray.
And God, in His infinitely mercy, knowledge and power has purposefully placed your darling little determined child in your care because YOU are the perfect parent for your child.
SO, sweet mom, hang on, be strong, pray like crazy and trust God.
You’ve got a little leader on your hands. David, Solomon, Paul, Martin Luther, Charles Wesley, Einstein and Reagan were all strong-willed people. Imagine what your adorable little determined child will do! Just imagine!
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