Parenting A Strong-Willed Child

Parenting A Strong-Willed Child

What exactly is a strong-willed or spirited child?

A strong-willed child, for better or worse, has a strong feeling of independence. While this might show as confidence, self-assurance, and determination, it also implies stubbornness, difficult behaviour, and disobedience.

Strong-willed children are stubborn individuals, and once their mind is set on an activity or habit, it can be difficult to distract their attention. Dealing with these strong-willed toddler qualities is not easy, as any parent or teacher knows.

This post may contain affiliate links. Full disclosure here.

Want to learn how to get your kids to listen without nagging, yelling or losing control?
–>check out this free parenting class<–

The Difficulties of Raising a Strong-Willed Child

One of the most difficult aspects of raising a strong-willed child is that they are incredibly tenacious in their objectives and are resistant to being diverted. They are passionate individuals that frequently live at full speed.

The everyday power struggles and fights that come with parenting strong-willed children sometimes leave parents angry and exhausted.

Fortunately, there are several successful behavioural modification techniques available for these children, and by taking the time to better understand the variables that contribute to strong-willed behaviour, parents could better adopt beneficial ways of dealing with it.

Why is My Child so Strong-Willed?

The temperament of a kid is the source of strong-willed behaviour. Temperament is the set of natural preferences, characteristics, and behavioural styles that you are born with.

Early temperament issues are connected with subsequent behavioural challenges, and spirited children have stronger reactivity, more trouble adapting to changes, inconsistency with moods, and are more persistent when they want things their way.

While temperament is a factor, it is the combination between a childrens temperament and their surroundings that causes behavioural issues.

Temperament issues, such as high reactivity, indicate that strong-willed children may experience more powerful emotions than other children, and having underdeveloped emotional regulation abilities indicates that the child will act out in these situations. Strong-willed children must learn how to deal with their level of intensity.

Furthermore, temperamental difficulties can result in ineffective parenting approaches and techniques. The ever-present power conflicts are one of the most prevalent.

Because parents are weary or angry, a strong-willed childrens incredible perseverance frequently leads to their caving in.

As a result, childrens learn to push limits in novel ways since it feels wonderful to have their own way. It’s all too tempting to focus on the drawbacks of having a spirited child, yet the same temperament qualities that cause problems also offer a slew of advantages.

Benefits to Being Strong-Willed

  • The sky is the limit for a child who learns to harness their perseverance and tenacity. Strong-willed childrens spend more time problem solving than their peers, and it is that unwavering will and lofty spirit that brings the world great leaders, thinkers, and inventors.
  • They are more inclined to adhere to their own set of beliefs and are less likely to succumb to peer pressure.
  • According to research, a willful child is more likely to succeed in adulthood than their classmates.
  • Children with challenging temperaments are more differentially responsive to positive changes in parenting than other children, which means they respond favourably to treatments and good parenting techniques. ​
  • They educate us: Their resolve and methods of connecting with their environments provide a wealth of lessons for everyone concerned. They are continuously challenging us to halt, think, and redirect our perceptions of the world.

Parenting a Strong-Willed Child

When you have a stubborn child, it might be difficult to choose successful parenting approaches. While it may appear that imposing an authoritative manner on the child and demanding respect is useful, this is not the case.

Although yelling at your child could be an effective way to temporarily stop behaviour, it is also negatively reinforcing your behaviour, which means that the more you yell at your child, the more likely you will feel like doing it in the future, which is ultimately harmful to your relationship and their development.

When a child has behavioural issues, it is all too tempting to over-discipline him or her. This might appear like a never-ending stream of punishment (fear conditioning), eventually leading to worse emotional control and greater behavioural issues in the future. ​

Early experiences affect subsequent behaviour in children with temperamental issues, therefore it is critical to discover effective strategies to work with your childrens temperament.

Strong-willed childrens dislike being told what to do; instead, they are largely governed by their own free will. As a result, attempting to elicit compliance from a strong-willed child might be a fruitless endeavour. Instead, focus on supporting your childrens emotional control, developing a trusting connection, establishing confidence, and fostering self-discipline and social responsibility.

If your child feels that you desire what is best for them, they will be more likely to follow your advice. There will be many tests along the road that will stretch your boundaries, but you can both learn to work together in a way that brings out your childrens great characteristics while reducing undesirable behaviours.

Parenting Strategies On How To Raise A Strong Willed Child

Provide Space

So, how do you raise a strong-willed child?

Strong-willed children learn via experience. They don’t want to be told what to do; they want to experience it and make their own decisions.

Take this approach: unless your child is in immediate danger, let them learn some of these lessons rather than attempting to regulate their behaviour.

Praise And Encouragement

A competent teacher recognizes and rewards positive behaviour while correcting undesirable behaviour. Simply observe your childrens behaviour and praise or comment on appropriate actions.

Attending teaches you a lot about how your child interacts with the outside world. It’s a good idea to let your child know you’re paying attention to their actions. Comments like “you hung up your coat!” show your child that you are watching acceptable behaviour and enhance the number of interactions you have that are not connected to discipline or instructions.

Reward And Motivation

Strong-willed children respond well to being rewarded with activities they like or physical rewards such as hugs and kisses, in addition to intrinsic motivation such as praise for excellent behaviour.

Choosing things that you can do together, such as playing a game, can enhance the number of pleasant interactions you have and serve as a powerful source of encouragement for future good behaviour.

Pick Your Battles

Selectively address what is important to you. When punishing your child, start with the most serious/dangerous behaviours and work your way down as the behaviours improve (growth mindset).

Learning to discipline your kid carefully will increase their cooperation, but arguing and punishing your child may weaken their desire to maintain their close relationship with you.

Use Positive Parenting

Children with strong personalities frequently struggle for respect and autonomy. You may make your child feel understood by showing them respect and sensitivity.

Communicating that you understand why something is important to them and proposing a compromise to their viewpoint could be an excellent technique for giving the child a sense of control. Inductive reasoning can also assist them in adopting more suitable behaviour.

Implementing proper time-ins and time-outs will also teach your child that acceptable behaviour is rewarded.
Overall, establishing a connection that clearly defines boundaries while still allowing for flexibility and consideration of your childrens needs creates healthy parental relationships.


  1. 1.Spengler M, Brunner M, Damian RI, Lüdtke O, Martin R, Roberts BW. Student characteristics and behaviours at age 12 predict occupational success 40 years later over and above childhood IQ and parental socioeconomic status. Developmental Psychology. 2015:1329-1340. doi:10.1037/dev0000025
  2. 2.Mesman J, Stoel R, Bakermans-Kranenburg MJ, et al. Predicting Growth Curves of Early Childhood Externalizing Problems: Differential Susceptibility of Children with Difficult Temperament. J Abnorm Child Psychol. January 2009:625-636. doi:10.1007/s10802-009-9298-0
  3. 3.Snyder J, Cramer A, Afrank J, Patterson GR. The Contributions of Ineffective Discipline and Parental Hostile Attributions of Child Misbehaviour to the Development of Conduct Problems at Home and School. Developmental Psychology. 2005:30-41. doi:10.1037/0012-1649.41.1.30
  4. 4.Weiss B, Dodge KA, Bates JE, Pettit GS. Some Consequences of Early Harsh Discipline: Child Aggression and a Maladaptive Social Information Processing Style. Child Development. December 1992:1321. doi:10.2307/1131558
  5. 5.van Zeijl J, Mesman J, Stolk MN, et al. Differential susceptibility to discipline: The moderating effect of child temperament on the association between maternal discipline and early childhood externalizing problems. Journal of Family Psychology. 2007:626-636. doi:10.1037/0893-3200.21.4.626

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.