I always say parenting is not easy. Who wouldn’t agree with me? I think most parents would. Parenting is all about consistently repeating, reminding, reasoning, explaining, arguing, debating, bargaining, punishing, earning, and pleading for cooperation. And it is EXHAUSTING.
Even though we all are different, and each of us uses their own unique parenting style (see “Becoming a Calming Authority”), we are all still affected by our child’s need for a consistent and active parental presence.
I strongly believe we do our best to be actively present in our child’s life with the goal of raising a happy, healthy, cooperative child. We use different approaches to make it happen. The permissive parents are allowing much and not expecting mature behavior from their child. The authoritarian does not allow much, showing the parent holds the power. The authoritative parent has high expectations for their children, providing them with support and resources to succeed.
Children are different too; some of them are cooperative and compliant, and others are challenging, difficult, stubborn, and just impossible. They push hard against the rules and authority. They test harder and more often, use more drama, and carry things further than most of us would ever imagine. And it is EXHAUSTING.
Strong-willed children. Who are they?
For years, I have been working with the mother of a strong-willed child. We have been spending a lot of time on parenting skills with my client, but it has been a never-ending topic of our sessions. We deal with one of the child’s challenging behaviors, then another challenge appears. My client is always on her toes, confused and puzzled about what could be missing from her parenting. It is EXHAUSTING for her.
I know that it is not due to the parent’s mistake or lack of time together, or connection, or love. It is about the unique characteristic and temperament of the child who’s very hard to raise and difficult to discipline. It is all about a strong-willed child being himself.
Let me share with you a story about an awesome boy. He is bright, creative, sensitive, and very determined. When he was 2 years old, his mother couldn’t figure out a way to get him dressed in the morning. He would refuse to wear the clothes his mother would pick out.
Now he is 6 years old, and she cannot make him eat a freshly cooked meal. He likes spaghetti only. He would starve himself rather than touch the freshly cooked meal. I feel sometimes that he is trying to train his mother instead of his mother training him.
He always gets his way, EXHAUSTING.
Parents and teachers describe these kids as challenging, difficult, stubborn, hell-raising, a pistol, or just impossible. The persistent testing that is so characteristic of strong-willed children is what drives most parents and teachers crazy.
Does this sound familiar? Is your child similar to one of these stories? Does it remind you about the daily battle with your child?
Remember you are not alone.
I will give some information to understand your strong-willed child better. Let’s remember for now that strong-willed children:
- are normal even though their behavior seems extreme.
- are individuals; some are easier, some more difficult, and some almost impossible.
- are hard to understand.
- bring out reactions in others; such as parents, teachers, classmates’ parents, family friends.
- need a lot of guidance and discipline; meanwhile, parents should not take anything personally during that process.
- learn differently than their peers. They learn “the hard way,” repeating the drill many times before they accept a rule as mandatory.
- can develop into dynamic, cooperative, and responsible individuals.
We can work together to find better-suited parenting tools for your strong-willed child that will match his/her temperament and your parenting style and discipline method.