Most of you have not met our Teagan but if you have read any of our family updates you know that this little miss is undoubtedly a strong willed child. Teagan is the complete opposite of Jude, sweet, over emotional and sensitive Jude. Teagan is in your face, tell it like it is, make no mistakes who the boss of the family really is!
After years of just dealing with the emotional and sensitive child, we are a bit perplexed on how to deal with this spitfire little lady. Let me be clear, we are not experts in this field but have done a lot of research and reading on how to parent a strong willed or spirited kiddos. Below are a few tips that we have either found really helpful or that seem to be a great option to try in the future.
Tips on Parenting a Strong Willed Child
1. Give your strong willed child choices. When you tell a strong willed child an order, they will not listen, instead offer them choices to meet their goal. This allows them to feel like they are making the decision rather than following an order. Offer only choices that the parent is okay with.
2. Routines and Rules are your friend! Power struggles are the worst with a strong willed child. Avoid those struggles by following good healthy routines and rules. This helps the parent not be the bad guy!
3. Listen. Stop…remember that this child is a growing person. She is ready to discuss life choices and it is your turn to listen. She has a viewpoint that is making her hold fast to her position, and she is trying to protect something that seems important to her. Validate that feeling and make sure you take time to respond to her feelings.
4. Let them learn. Strong willed kiddos learn through experiences. Even if you are telling her over and over again that the stove is HOT, she may not believe you until she finds out for herself. This is why strong willed children test your limits on the daily. It is important to keep your child safe but the fact is, it is more effective to let them learn through experience, instead of trying to control
5. Praise good behavior! Strong willed children often times struggle horribly with confidence. Encouraging and recognizing your child playing well with a friend will do wonders to her behavior.
6. Reward systems. Find a system that your child is excited about. We use stickers and prize boxes for good behavior days. When a strong willed child can see their accomplishments they are encouraged, pleased, and will continue building confidence.
8. Empathy goes a long way. Switch places with your child. What are they feeling? What are they losing control of. Step back and empathize with what is happening in the moment. Use this time to paraphrase and let them know that you GET it. Our kids deserve our respect at every age.