Boy oh boy, the strong-willed child! How we love their spirit! If you have opened this post, I am guessing you are a parent (maybe a teacher or caregiver) of a strong willed child, also known as, the spirited child. But, how do you really know if your child is strong-willed? What are the most common strong willed child characteristics? What is the best way to parent a strong willed child? These are things I have been asked and I asked myself at one point! Here, we will begin with the 8 things you need to know about the strong willed child.
First, let me start by saying…I know how tired you are! More days than not, you feel emotionally and physically exhausted. Often by 7 am! There are times you question your parenting and feel guilty for your reaction to your child.
I have had more than my fair share of dealing with these amazingly intense children. In fact, my littlest guy is almost 2 1/2 years old. Let’s just say, I knew I was raising a unique little guy from day one! I had labeled him tough, stubborn and even difficult. I came to realize none of that was true. He is his own person and I needed to find how to parent to his personality.
Often times, parents of strong-willed children have difficulty parenting. Whether you are a new parent and already had a vision of your parenting style. Or, you are a second, or third-time parent. Right when you think you had the parenting thing down. Then, here comes this little one who is a total force to be reckoned with. Boom…you are at a total loss!
Is there Something Wrong With My Child or Am I a Horrible Parent?
It’s not uncommon for you to have some racing thoughts in your head. You begin to question if there is something wrong with your child or if you are just the worst parent ever?!? Obviously, this can make you worried and be concerned.
In short, No and No! There is nothing wrong with your child. They don’t have behavioral problems that need fixing. And, you aren’t a horrible parent! However, it is helpful to understand the strong willed child. For tips on how to parent a strong willed child you can read here.
As mentioned above, it’s important to understand the characteristics of a strong-willed child. Sometimes just knowing we aren’t alone in this parenting game and understanding the common traits of our little ones is extremely helpful.
Common Characteristics Of The Strong-Willed Child
- They are intense, stubborn and have major outbursts. These outbursts are exhausting for both the child and the parent. It never fails, the meltdowns always come at the worst time (but, let’s be honest, when is a good time!?!). They feel like they last FOREVER. Before I learned how to manage his outburst and not let them affect me as much, I would want to crawl into a hole or back to bed and be done for the day. But, we know that can’t happen!
- The strong willed child is demanding. In fact, they can be labeled bossy. Although, I choose not to use that word. I feel like it has a negative connotation. In particular, they like to be in control of their environment. They like to control the people around them. This also includes making their own rules.
- They have strong opinions. You will know if they like or dislike something. It ties back to the intense emotions. There is not a lot of middle ground or gray area for these kiddos.
- They REFUSE do things they don’t want to do and DETERMINED to do things they want to do. It’s common for them to challenge boundaries and push to see how far they can go.
- They are often energetic and fast-paced. However, they can also go at their own set pace. That is usually a snail’s pace when it means I am rushing to be somewhere. Somehow they just now!
- They tend to be impatient and short tempered. If they want something, they want it now. You can’t try to reason with them. They will go from 0 to 60 in about 2 seconds. My little guy has an ear piercing scream that anyone can hear from a mile away. Everyone on our block knows when my little guy is unhappy about something.
- As they get older and develop the verbal skills to do so, they often argue. It’s common for them to have strong beliefs and want to express them. Beware…they also have a great memory and like to remind parents of previous discussions. Ha!
- They aren’t people who sit idly by and learn from parents telling them what to do. Strong willed children are experiential. They need to learn by doing. My two oldest boys were listeners. I could tell them “be careful” or “that’s not safe” and they would listen (for the most part). They would stop what they were doing and do something else. My youngest, forget it! Those are trigger words for him. He wants to learn for himself. It is amazing (and exhausting!) to watch the determination in him.
What Does All This Mean And Now What?
As shown above, these children are intense but amazing little human beings! Again, I know first hand how exhausting it can be to parent a strong-willed child. For this reason, it’s important NOT to label them bad or defiant.
Yes, they can seem overwhelming, intense and difficult at times but they aren’t bad children. Our approach to parenting them can make the difference. Instead of getting frustrated remember they are smart, strong-minded, determined, fearless and passionate leaders in the making.
Ultimately, parent them with these traits in mind. After all, they will grow up to do amazing things! They are the ones that will change our world.
About the Author
****Corinne Gonzalez is a mom of 3 boys, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and owner of www.messygoodlife.com. She gives her personal and professional experiences as a way provide simple yet helpful information about life, personal development, and parenting.
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