Finding yourself in an all-out screaming match with your strong-willed child can leave you feeling a bit sheepish. After all, you're the parent here. Of course, when your child is stubborn, spirited and argumentative, all parenting bets are off. Instead, you may go into survival mode to tiptoe around each tantrum minefield. While you shouldn't try and break your tough tot's resolve, knowing how to raise a strong-willed kid can help you avoid the yelling matches and reap the benefits of your child's personality.
Chances are that you and your strong-willed toddler or preschooler butt heads when you're trying to force him into something with no questions asked. Strong-willed kids are independent little souls who don't like having their freedom taken away. If you really want your tiny tyrant to give in to your master plan, offer two choices rather than telling him what you want him to do. It puts him in the driver's seat within boundaries that you've already set to help avoid an all-out war.
Your strong-willed child is like a soldier, systematically reviewing your behavior for the tiniest crack in your armor. That's where she can bend your will to match her own. As a parent, your main objective should be consistency. If you always keep the same rules, your child knows what to expect and that she can't change your expectations. Give in once and it's like a free pass to pester and protest to get her way in the future.
If you know that your child will balk at a certain situation or get into trouble in another, plan ahead and make provisions for him. For instance, if you know that he can be a pain at the park, bring along digging toys, snacks and sports equipment to keep him busy and whine-free. If you think preschool might be a challenge, arrange for a meeting with the teacher and talk about your child's personality. By prepping yourself, others and your child for these situations, you can avert a disaster -- or tantrum.
You might not love your child's personality when she's begging for candy at the grocery store, but there are some major perks to raising a strong-willed child. Quit criticizing her stubbornness and remind yourself that it's actually conviction. Her high-spirited ways simply mean that she has lots of energy. By flipping the switch on how you see your child's personality, you may grow to appreciate the way she acts, rather than dread or apologize for it instead. Stay positive and pick only the most important battles, and your child might be more inclined to cooperate when it counts.