This is the second part of my series “How to Raise Strong-Willed Kids“. Raising spirited kids that are strong-willed, courageous, and stubborn can be challenging. If they are given the room they need to learn and grow, yet still have boundaries, spirited kids can become adults who think for themselves, are strong in their beliefs, and can withstand the pressures from society and friends to become something different than who they really want to be. These kids have amazing strengths that they just need to learn to cultivate, while developing respect and compassion for others.
I love these insights from Kevin Hinckley, given at a BYU Education Week conference in 2015 that I attended.
1. Don’t push your kids into corners where they might feel they have to oppose you. If either of you are feeling very angry, have a cool off period. If your child has done something that triggers your anger, wait to talk to them about it until you have control of your emotions and can think clearly. Don’t confront them when you are angry. When you talk to them, watch the tone of your voice and your body language.
2. Ask Yourself:
- What triggers you and makes you feel mad? Is it likely that your kids know this and know how to push your buttons? Be aware of that.
- When you are mad, what do you do?
- What coping skills are you modeling to your kids? Model behavior that you want them to copy, because it’s likely that they will.
3. When your kids realize they were wrong, let them save face. Don’t make everything a win/lose situation or tell them “I told you so.”
4. Listen and repeat back what you are hearing. Listening is more important than problem solving or fixing whatever is going on with them. Let them work through and solve their own problems while you listen to their ideas. Let them own their problems so they feel ownership for their life. More ideas on how to be a better listener can be found in this article “5 Easy Ways to Be a Better Listener“.
5. Try to see issues from your kids point of view. What might they be thinking and feeling? How might the issue be affecting them? Try to understand them, be respectful, and empathize.
6. Remember the 3 C’s: Stay calm, communicate, and collaborate.
7. Discipline, don’t punish.
Do you have a strong-willed, spirited child? What ideas have helped you?
BYU Education Week 2015, Kevin Hinkley