Do you have a child that is stubborn and seems to want to learn everything the hard way? Maybe they test the limits over and over or they have big, passionate feelings. They can also be thought of as spirited and courageous. They want to try new things, be in charge of themselves, and they always want to be right. It can be difficult to know how to guide and parent kids like this. I went to a few classes at BYU Education week last summer that were taught by Kevin Hinckley on this topic. He gave us some great tips on parenting strong-willed kids.
1. Create structure with routines and general rules with their input. Let them help create the rules so they have ownership in them. Be consistent and follow through on consequences when rules are broken. Re-visit the rules if they don’t appear to be working.
2. Provide choices and options. Don’t fall into a choicing trap. It can be easy to fall into these traps:
- Giving options that are meaningless.
- Giving options you don’t really want them to choose.
- Telling them it’s the easy way or the hard way.
- The choice is really a punishment.
- Choices aren’t age appropriate.
- Not being open to their suggestions.
- Overusing choices.
3. Help kids learn what good choices are and listen to their opinions. Be open to their suggestions. Be willing to modify choices if things aren’t working out the way you or your kids expected them to.
4. Let strong-willed kids fail and learn from it. Ask questions to help them evaluate why something didn’t go the way they hoped it would. Questions like, “What happened?” “Was that what you wanted to have happen?” “What do we need to do differently?” Ask open ended questions, not yes or no questions. Listen to their answers without interruption. They may have to learn the lesson many times before it’s painful enough to want to change.
5. Provide opportunities for them to excel at something. All kids need to feel the satisfaction and joy of doing well at something. If they are a younger sibling, they may want to do their own thing and stand out in something different than their older sibling(s) has done. Help them find something they love and can feel proud of themselves when doing it.
What are some things you have done that work for you in raising your strong-willed kids?
You may also like “Raising Strong-Willed, Spirited Kids, Part 2”