Strategies for Parenting Strong-Willed Children
Most children are pretty adept at learning from their own mistakes and adjusting accordingly, but strong-willed children are resistant to the natural lessons their mistakes should impose. Teaching the “lessons of life” might help to soften these strong-wills – but what if it doesn't?
What You Need to Know
When it comes to mistakes, there are two types of kids:
- Kids who make mistakes, experience natural and logical consequences of their actions, then make better choices
- Kids who make mistakes and don't seem affected by their choices or their consequences
The first type is fairly easy to deal with from a parenting standpoint, since they do seem to learn from their mistakes. The second type, understandably, poses a greater problem.
Parents want to impose consequences that will make a difference in their children's lives – but how?
How You Can Help
Strong-willed children consistently want to do things their way, exhibiting behavior that suggests they think everything revolves around them and have no regard for how actions affect others. An effective strategy for countering this is teaching “the lessons of life.”
- Create consequences that match the misbehavior. Example: Your son skips on brushing his teeth before bed, and so loses snack privileges for the day on the basis that sugar causes decay and you can't allow extra sugar if he's not going to bother brushing out daily decay.
- Your job is merely to be consistent and set up guidelines. There is no formula for change. Frightening as it may be, you cannot force your child to conform – it's something he has to figure out for himself, even if it means doing things his way (the wrong way) until that time comes. A true student of the “school of hard knocks” may take until his mid-to-late twenties to figure it out. The good news is – usually these kids do figure it out as adults. Do not consider yourself a failure, and don't give up. Lay the groundwork and build the foundation. Be consistent, remain emotionally detached, and love them unconditionally. They will appreciate it... eventually.
- Although you want to show your child the unconditional love you have for him, when kids make mistakes repeatedly, it may require that you withdraw some of the emotional, financial, and physical support they take for granted and use to perpetuate their poor decisions.
- Always trust your instincts – if you think something is wrong, investigate.
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