Parent's Resource Center

The Strong-Willed Child:
12 Concepts and Ideas That May Be Helpful

1. Make sure you have one. There is a difference between a strong-willed child and a weak-willed parent.

2. If you have a strong-willed child, you are not to blame for the temperament with which your child was born. He is simply a tough kid to handle, and your task is to rise to the challenge.

3. He is in greater danger because of his inclination to test the limits and scale the walls. If you say something is true, your child says, "Maybe, maybe not. I want to experience it for myself." Your strong-willed child will call your bluff. Your utmost diligence and wisdom will be required to deal with him.

4. If you fail to understand his lust for power and independence, you can exhaust you resources and bog down in guilt. Exhaustion and guilt will benefit no one.

5. If it is not already too late, by all means, take charge of your babies. Hold tightly to the reins of authority in the early days, and build an attitude of respect during your brief window of opportunity. You will need every ounce of "awe" you can get during the years to come. Once you have established your right to lead, begin to let go systematically, year by year.

6. A strong-willed child likes to help make decisions. When possible give your child choices. "Would you like to have a chocolate chip cookie or strawberry ice cream?" Give them projects in which they can take charge, like planning the family vacation. A strong-willed child doesn't want to control you; he just wants you to allow him some control.

7. A strong-willed child will only comply with rules or laws when they make sense. Give them a solid reason for a rule.

8. A strong-willed child wants to feel unique and special. He does not want to be ordinary. He struggles against the confines of traditions and conformity.

9. Stay on your child's team, even when it appears to be a losing team. You'll have the rest of your life to enjoy mutual fellowship if you don't overreact to frustration now.

10. Don't panic, even during the storms of adolescence. Better times are ahead. A radical turnaround usually occurs in the early 20s.

11. Give him time to find himself, even if he appears not to be searching.

12. Most importantly, I urge you to hold your children before the Lord in fervent prayer throughout their years at home. I am convinced that there is no other source of confidence and wisdom in parenting. There is not enough knowledge in the books to counteract the evil that surrounds our kids today. We must bathe them in prayer every day of their lives. The God who made our children will hear your petitions. He has promised to do so. After all, He loves them more than you do.

Concepts taken from James Dobson (Focus on the Family) and from Cynthia Tobias  author of You Can't Make Me (But I Can Be Persuaded)

Parent's Resource Center
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Revised: November 14, 2006