NOTE: This is the second article in the two post series about Strong-Willed Children. Please read “10 Signs That You Have A Strong-Willed Child” for the first post of the series.
Admit it, having a strong-willed child is exhausting. The constant battles with everyday routines, their need to do things exactly the way want to do it and the barrage of “No”s thrown at you for each and every thing, big and small, suck energy out of you faster than you can replenish with 6-7 hours of sleep and 3-4 cups of tea/coffee. You start wondering things like “What am I doing wrong?” “How come my parenting sucks so bad that I have absolutely no control over my kids?”.
The good news is your child’s temperament has got nothing to do with your parenting skills. They were “born this way” (Yes, Lady Gaga was right! Of course, if you start considering that perhaps you and/or your partner are themselves stubborn and passed on this trait to your children, well, you can pinpoint the culprit who is to be blamed for this 😉 But I am digressing here).
Once you have made peace with the fact that you do have a stubborn child, the question that arises next is how to win over your strong-willed child in a non-threatening way which avoids breaking his spirit in your quest for compliance? Well, here are 7 tricks that have worked for me and made my daily interactions with sonny much better and far less antagonistic. A word of caution though – I am still learning and there are many days when we still butt heads despite all the tricks in my kitty.
1. Give them some autonomy over their lives
One of the main reasons of conflict with a strong-willed child is that they want complete control over how they function on day-to-day basis. Well, giving them absolute power in this regard will lead to anarchy 😉 , of course, considering that they are still learning the ropes of moral conduct and good behavior in society and need your guidance, though they will vehemently deny it! Nonetheless, it is a good idea to give them autonomy over some of the decisions involving them. Be it whether they want an afternoon nap or not, whether they want to eat pancakes three weeks in a row or whether they want to wear their sports shoes (“Shopping shoes” as sonny likes to call them) inside the house, letting them have their way for some things (no matter how quirky) lets them know that their voice counts and that they are important. This reduces their need for “defying authority” tremendously.
I have observed that the 50-50 rule works quite well for me and sonny. On days when I let sonny have his way 50% of the times and I have my way 50% of the times works the best and are one of our better “no head-butting” days. I can stretch the ratio till 30-70 occasionally when I am feeling lucky (and ready for some conflicts and teachable moments!) but beyond it, our machinery simply breaks down!
But you may ask, if we let our children have their way 50% of the times, what will happen if they are asking non-permissible stuff? Well, that’s where the second trick in my kitty comes into play.
2. Ask permission – don’t enforce laws, instead, make them together