How to tame a strong willed child?

Kelsey - posted on 03/16/2012 ( 4 moms have responded )




My son is 4 years old. He is the most stubborn strong willed person I have ever encountered. (and I mean person not child) If he decides he does not want to do something, like tell you his alphabets or numbers which he has known for almost 2 yrs, he simply will not do it. I have tried all sorts of punishments and rewards to no avail. I just do not know what to do. How do you get an extremely strong willed child to do what you need them to do with out engaging in all out war?


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Kelsey - posted on 03/19/2012




Thanks ladies! Good advice. I have tried versions of it before but I think I need to be more consistent. I know he gets his strong wills from me, so we do buttheads but I have def learned to pick my battles.

Rebekah - posted on 03/19/2012




Make it HIS idea to do it. When it's your idea, you're asking for the fight and you've also allowed him to take you head on in a power struggle. My son is 3 and I've had to learn to do this myself, especially since we are homeschooling. :)

Katherine - posted on 03/18/2012




Also try this:

Learn about temperament and how it affects your child's behavior and emotions. A strong-willed temperament makes children more intense and less adaptable. It translates into a child who is easily frustrated, quickly becomes angry and has difficulty letting go until the issue is resolved in their favor.

Step 2

Analyze your parenting style to be sure you're not inadvertently reinforcing his strong will. Avoid the extremes. Don't be permissive as this allows your child to win. Stay away from "my way or the highway" because this triggers unnecessary battles. Don't let his intense and tenacious anger wear you down to the point where you give in just to end the conflict.

Step 3

Establish clear rules and consequences. Post a list of rules in a prominent spot, calmly refer to the rule that has been broken and give consequences consistently. Natural or logical consequences help teach cause and effect: If she makes a mess, she must clean it up. If she breaks her own toy or game, it is not replaced.

Step 4

Acquire new parenting tools. In his book "The Explosive Child," Dr. Ross Greene offers a new perspective on the standard "choose your battles" by suggesting that parents sort behaviors into imaginary baskets. "Basket A" behaviors are non-negotiable. They're the ones you enforce regardless of the strength of your child's reaction. They ensure safety and maintain your authority. "Basket B" behaviors are important but not critical enough to justify battles. Use these situations to teach compromise. "Basket C" includes behaviors that you will temporarily ignore. The idea is to remove issues that push his "strong will" buttons so that you can restore a level of peace and find more time to work together to solve problems.

Step 5

Plan ahead for strong-willed behaviors. Learn to identify when she is entering that danger zone where excess frustration and anger can quickly spiral out of control. Distract her attention or remove her from the situation. Find a quiet place where she can go to calm down and regain control.

Step 6

Communicate with your child. Work as a team to solve problems and find alternative solutions. Let him participate in discussions about rules and consequences. Always take time after a confrontation to talk about what happened, teach how to express emotions and offer support.

Step 7

Protect your child's spirit. Remain calm no matter how you feel. A history of willful battles puts you at a higher risk for resorting to hurtful statements. Avoid saying, "Why aren't you like your brother?" or "What's wrong with you?" or any other statement that diminishes her self-esteem.

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