“Embrace the unique way your child is blooming — even if it’s not in the garden you imagined.” – http://www.embracing.life
If you look up the definition of a strong-willed child on the internet, you might see a picture of my daughter next to it. She embodies almost all of the qualities that make up what people consider to be a strong-willed child.
Since she was born, my daughter has been independent, opinionated, stubborn and spirited. I remember when she was maybe 2 months old and she was in her bassinet. She was kicking and screaming so hard that she was making the bookshelf move. My husband and I both looked at each other and wondered what we had just gotten ourselves into!
As she has gotten older, we have definitely had our struggles with her and parenting hasn’t always been easy. I have spent countless hours watching Super Nanny, love her!, and trying to implement the strategies that she shares. Google has been my best friend more days than I want to admit.
Over the years, I have learned so much when it comes to parenting. Through our fails and triumphs with our daughter, we have found some things that have really worked and eased a lot of the stress in our house.
If you are parenting a strong-willed child, I hope you can take even just one of the tips I am going to share with you and that they will help you in your parenting journey!
1. Pick Your Battles
Oh, this is SO much easier said than done. Often times, I have found myself being a “right fighter” (thank you Dr. Phil) instead of letting things that don’t really matter go. All this does it frustrate my daughter and myself to be honest. Does it really matter if her bed is made perfectly? Celebrate the fact that she listened and made it! This is something I am working on everyday!
2. Change Your Approach
I sound like my husband. He is constantly telling me to change my approach! Let me tell you, since I have started changing the way I deal with situations, life has become easier. Don’t get me wrong, we still have our struggles. But I am able to adapt better to what is happening. Try to be fluid and open with your parenting and you will see a huge difference!
3. Give Them Choices
For my daughter, she doesn’t respond well to being barked at or rushed. The second this happens, she shuts down and gets angry. For instance, when she is getting ready for school it used to be a fight when I would tell her that she needed to brush her teeth or finish up breakfast. Now, I ask her what else she needs to do to get ready and tell her the time. She is at an age where she can do these things for herself and it makes her feel good when she feels independent. Let them chose what they are going to do next or what they are going to wear, within reason!
4. Routines Are Everything
Seriously. If you have a strong-willed child, I promise you a routine will make things so much easier! We try to stick to our routine, especially her bedtime and night routine. Once we really implemented this and began doing our routine everyday, our difficulties greatly diminished. Start out trying to build a routine for the morning such as breakfast, brush teeth, make bed, get dressed. If you already have a routine, what does yours look like?
5. Be Forceful But Loving
This is something I realized I needed to work on a little bit ago and have been ever since! I noticed that I may have been talking with a stern or forceful voice but there was no love behind it, if that makes sense. My daughter truly thrives off of rules so I know I need to enforce them and be strict but I also need to be affectionate and caring. It’s a balance I am learning!
6. Be Realistic With Expectations
Have you ever found yourself expecting way too much out of your 5 year old? You can’t see me but I am currently raising my hand because I have stopped myself many times and taken a step back. There are plenty of times when I have to remind myself that my daughter is only 6 years old. Having realistic expectations takes away a lot of the frustration when it comes to parenting a strong-willed child. Know what sets them off or aggravates you in a situation and work around it to create a more peaceful environment. No child is perfect and we as parents can’t expect them to be!
7. Make Sure They Get Enough Sleep
Well, I saved the most important for last! I can’t even describe to you in words the difference in behavior when my daughter has had enough sleep. We used to keep her up some nights if we were at someone’s house or it was the weekend and she would be so difficult the next day. It would take three or four days for her to get back on track. Now, we leave everywhere early so she is in bed on time. We start reading at 7:00 each night and she is in bed by 7:30. She NEVER goes right to sleep so it is usually between 8:00 and 8:30 when she finally falls asleep. We have learned to say “no” to a lot and cancel a lot of plans so that she can get an adequate amount of sleep!
If you are on the journey of parenting a strong-willed child, I am right there with you! I definitely don’t have it all figured out and we have lots of good and lots of bad days. I am constantly learning and trying new ways of parenting my precious little girl.
Be patient, be open-minded and keep trudging along! Everyone tells me that my strong-willed child will be a strong, independent and fierce woman one day and I think they may be right! She has the biggest heart of anyone I have met, even if she isn’t so nice to me sometimes, and I couldn’t be more proud of her.
Do you have any tips for parents who have a strong-willed child? Comment below!! XOXO