A strong-willed child often has a determined, persistent, independent, and self-motivated personality. These traits can benefit them as they get older, but it can make parenting difficult. While it's important to set boundaries and provide guidance, traditional, strict approaches may not always work with strong-willed children. Positive parenting techniques offer a nurturing and collaborative approach that focuses on working together to solve problems.
Positive parenting focuses on using kindness, listening to children, and talking to them in a way that makes them feel loved and respected. This can be a very effective approach for strong-willed children, in particular, because it respects their independence. Here are some ideas for using positive parenting techniques with your strong-willed child:
Praise positive behavior: Strong-willed children respond well to positive reinforcement, which means giving them a reward or a compliment when they meet expectations so that they're encouraged to do that good thing again in the future. You can try praising their good behavior when you see it. For example, you could say, "I really appreciate how you listened to me when I asked you to pick up your toys. You're doing a great job!"
Set clear and consistent boundaries: Children need structure and routine, so make sure to set clear and consistent boundaries for your child to follow. This can include rules around screen time, bedtime, and behavior in public places. Be firm but kind when enforcing these rules.
Use empathy and active listening: When your child is upset or acting out, try to put yourself in their shoes and use active listening to understand their perspective. If a strong-willed child feels that they are being misunderstood or isn’t being heard, it can create a power struggle between the child and the caregiver. To avoid this, you can try empathetic language like, "I can see that you're feeling frustrated right now. Can you tell me more about what's going on?"
Offer choices: Strong-willed children like to feel in control and independent, so offering them choices can help them feel empowered and engaged. For example, you could say, "Would you like to wear the red shirt or the blue shirt today?" or "Do you want to read a book or play with your toys before bedtime?"
Practice positive discipline: Instead of using punishment or shame to discipline your child, try using positive discipline techniques that focus on teaching and learning. This can include natural consequences, time-outs, and redirection. Natural consequences are the results that happen because of a child's actions or behavior, without any additional punishment or reward from the caregiver. For example, if a child continues to play roughly with a toy after you warn them, the natural consequence may be that they break the toy. By allowing children to experience the natural consequences of their actions, caregivers can help children develop a sense of responsibility and learn from their mistakes in a positive way.
Though parenting a strong-willed child can be challenging, using positive parenting techniques can help you build a strong and loving relationship with your child. Keep these tips in mind, and do your best to be patient, consistent, and kind in your interactions with your child.