6 Simple Tips for Raising the Strong-Willed Child

6 Simple Tips for Raising the Strong-Willed Child

The strong-willed, spirited child – with patience, consistency and grace, they’ll grow to change the world.

 

These spirited souls are all too often branded by their perceived faults – by the tantrums, defiance and seemingly constant power-struggle. At the root of it these children have great, but misunderstood minds. As parents, it’s our responsibility to retrain our minds to understand theirs and to adapt to a different way of parenting. Strong-willed children should never be ashamed of or punished for being just that – strong.

 

After seven years of parenting my spirited daughter, I’ve finally reached a bit of a sweet-spot. I feel like I understand my daughter’s behavior (to an extent) and we’ve made huge strides in our relationship. That said, the road has been very hard. Motherhood and parenting are inherently difficult, and I’m going to tell you, raising a spirited child is all that plus some. I’ve screamed, ugly-cried, and had complete toddler-esque meltdowns. I’ve felt embarrassed, ashamed and like I’m completely failing at this whole parenting thing. Despite the challenges, I’ve learned so much about my daughter and how to raise a spirited child. These are my simple and practical tips for raising a strong-willed child.

They're a natural born leader, so let them lead.

Fiercely independent, courageous and determined – these children have every attribute of a natural leader. Their innate ability to take command is pretty remarkable for such a young mind. By putting your child in a position to lead, you’re giving them that sense of freedom and autonomy that they crave. This also gives them the agency to take risks, make their own decisions (within reason) and to learn from their actions. Let your little leaders lead – today, tomorrow and long into the future!

Nourish their inquisitive mind.

They’re curious, but still independent – so take a step back and let them learn through trial and error. Don’t force or coerce them to think like you (because they don’t!), they need to satisfy their curiosity through experimentation. Believe me when I say, telling these children how to do something is a recipe for disaster. Giving guidance and support is aways a better option than telling them how to do something. Sometimes it takes my daughter several attempts at something before she’ll even consider my advice. It can be frustrating and seem like they simply don’t want to listen, bit they’re really just problem-solving. Sit back and watch their mind work, it’s an absolutely fascinating thing!

Focus on building a relationship.

Listen, communicate, console and love – do all the things that help build a strong and trusting relationship. If your child is comfortable in their relationship with you, they’ll be more inclined to respect your role as the parent. Set the precedent for what healthy relationships look like, and they’ll follow. One thing to always remember is that strong-willed children are very reactionary and will fight fire with fire (trust me). Parenting out of anger or fear (yelling, screaming, harsh punishments) will only result in your child returning that anger or fear in some form. Build a strong, loving relationship together, one where your child feels protected, heard and valued. You’re their rock and the precedent for all their relationships going forward.

Be mindful and practice patience.

Before you react, take a deep breath, walk away from the situation and calm your mind. Raising a spirited child can test your patience and invoke emotions anger and frustration, even in the most calm of parents. Take a deep breath to center yourself and be mindful of your child. Nothing good comes from anger or yelling and operating our of emotion can overwhelm your child. It’s okay for you and your child to take a few minutes to decompress, regroup and approach the situation when you’re in a better headspace. These children are deeply emotional and with their strong temperament, sometimes they need time to cool off and clear their mind. Teach them that it’s okay to take that time and most importantly, model that behavior.

 

Practicing mindfulness, patience and emotional control has personally, been the most difficult part of this journey for me. I’m a reactionary person, and it’s been an arduous task to train my mind to consciously choose the appropriate reaction. It takes time to learn to be mindful, be patient with yourself and your child.

Reconnect through grounding.

Nature is a great healer, especially for the mind. Grounding in the most rudimentary form, is the process of connecting your body and mind to the Earth’s natural electric charge. This technique may seem a little, well, earthy for some, but we’ve had some success with it. Strong-willed children tend to be emotional and can have a difficult time regulating those emotions. When my daughter seems to be overwhlelmed or anxious, I’ll have her stand outside, barefoot on the ground. This mind-body-earth connection helps to redirect thought back to the present and eases feelings of anxiety. Grounding brings my daughter back to a place where she can operate with a clear and conscious mind. It’s simple, it’s earthy – but it works. Give nature a hand at healing.

Reconnect through grounding. Grounding is the process of establishing a mind-body-earth connection.

Give grace.

Practice compassion, self-compassion, acceptance and kindness. Life is hard – it’s a learning process and we’re all going to make mistakes. When you grant yourself and your child grace, you give room for peace and self-reflection. We’re all learning and evolving – by giving grace we can accept our mistakes and grow together.

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Minimalist Mama is a curated story of mamahood, minimalism and simple living.

Portia Owens

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