Wednesday

WFMW: Tips for Raising Strong-Willed Children


Please mark your calendars for the March 3 & 10 temporary move of WFMW. While I'm in Kenya with Compassion Bloggers, Shannon of Rocks in My Dryer will be welcoming you all back to her place as she hosts WFMW for two weeks! There will NOT be a special theme for March 3, link any tip you'd like!


I think God must really love me.

Because He gave me not one, but two strong-willed children to cherish and raise.

(Not sure if your child is strong-willed? Take this quick learning test).

Having determined won't-take-no-for-an-answer children is a blessing. You know those leaders in your life that you admire, or the amazing strong friend you respect and turn to in crisis? Odds are, they were strong-willed children too.

But sometimes even blessings can be complicated.

Here are some tips that are working (mostly) for us from various resources such as The Strong-Willed Child by James Dobson and this helpful article from Christianity Today:

1. Add the word "ok?" at the end of a request. So, instead of saying "Go clean your room!", Say, "Go clean your room, ok?"

Wow, this has made an enormous difference for us. Strong-willed kids like to have control. And even though your request is non-negotiable, it is heard as a choice. If they say, "but I'm thirsty," respond with, "Get a drink and then clean your room. Ok?"

2. Rephrase your requests. If your child needs to make their bed. Instead of saying "Go make your bed!" Ask "Have you made your bed yet?"

3. Don't yell or nag. (The good Lord knows, I'm working on this one.)

4. Have a keyword. I'll be honest, sometimes our discussions get out-of-hand with our oldest. She is a strong beautiful girl, but she knows what she wants and sometimes it's much different that what I want. Instead of battling head-on in that heated moment, we're trying out a keyword. Whenever I say "dolphin" it's time to step away. She can go to her room and we can talk about the subject later. (I haven't used this yet, but we do have a keyword. I thought about picking a fight to try it, but thought better of it).

5. This is the most important: Choose your relationship over getting your way. God really spoke to me about this. Sometimes I'm so determined to see obedience (over small things) that I harp and nag and hurt my relationship. I'm learning to offer grace, just like God offers me.

Thank you for joining me for WFMW! {You can read the guidelines here.}

Have a Works-For-Me Wednesday tip you'd like to share? I'd love for you to join us! Please note that the links will close on Thursday, in order to keep away the spammers!
Was your link deleted? Click here.

(This post appeared in my January edition of The Family Room (my parenting newsletter).


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50 comments:

Lora @ Motherhood Moments said...

Great tips! Thank you for posting them. I also have two strong-willed children and both are still young toddlers, but those ideas are great to have in mind for the future!

Amy@ MomsToolbox said...

Love the tip for rephrasing the requests. I bet that would make the assignment much more palatable. I know it would for me.
And, eh-hem, uh... number 3... I'm working on it! (and finally seeing progress on my part) :)
Thanks for the great advice!

Liz@HoosierHomemade said...

Those are great tips! I have 1 that is strong willed, I'll be giving them a try.
Thanks for hosting!
~Liz

suzannah @ so much shouting/laughter said...

we have a very strong-willed two year old. (Lord help us, she's only two!) #5 is SUCH a good reminder. thanks:)

Hannah said...

These are such good, practical tips. Too often it seems we're told that we just need to exert a stronger will than our strong-willed children. I love any parenting advice that helps me to work with my children and their temperaments, rather than against.

3 for Me! said...

I have a strong-willed one and 2 that can have strong-willed "moments"!! We have also read the Strong-Willed Child by Dobson. I'm currently reading "Parenting Isn't For Cowards" which has also been very good.

I also find that I have to ask ONLY what I HAVE to HAVE him obey. And Keeping My COOL!!!prov 15:1(has been my guide)

Thanks!

Fiddledeedee said...

AAACCCK. I'm going through the Total Transformation series because 2/3 of my children are strong willed. Which they get from their father's side of the family. :)

Muthering Heights said...

Those are very good tips...especially the code word!!

Adventures In Babywearing said...

This brings such encouragement to my heart tonight after a difficult day with one of my strongwilleds. Sigh. Thank you.

Steph

Stef said...

I absolutely need to engrave #5 on my brain. I am on the edge of damaging my relationship with my 7 yr old son because I am so picky and stubborn not to allow the smallest thing fly in fear of complete disobedience.

thank you for the reminder!
Stef

LaVonne said...

How funny, Kristen. I thought this was the theme for the week. So I wrote up a blog of tips too. But that is okay. I love this theme. I appreciated your ideas, thanks for sharing them :)

Jessica said...

I have an extremely strong willed child! Thanks you for the tips! It's a constant struggle everyday getting her to listen and obey and she's not even 3 yet, but she has such a mind of her own. She decides she's going to do something and there is no stopping her no matter what anyone says, even if it leads to a spanking.

Real Life Sarah said...

Great tips Kristen!! Oh, boy, I have one of those too! I find if I give her an innocuous choice. If it's bedtime, I won't say "Go to bed," but "Do you want to sleep with your bear or your baby doll?"

Lisa @ Crazy Adventures in Parenting said...

These are FABULOUS tips! I have a few very strong-willed children. I will try these!

Devildogwife said...

For us, we use the word please instead of okay. Please make your bed... Please brush your teeth...

It works for us. And yes, you have to pick your battles.

Twin-Spiration said...

Great ideas...we have also read the book..."You can't make me, but I can be persuaded" and it was a good one. These are awesome tips and I am going to print them out and give them to both my husband and my mom.
Thanks so much for sharing.
www.twin-spiration.com

Jo said...

I have 2 strong willed sons who are now 17 and 22 plus a strong willed husband - it takes a lot of patience and keeping my mouth shut on occasions. It can be very tough.

Marianne@Songbird said...

I do not have children, but I have a strong willed partner. Gonna see if your tricks work on him too.
Hope he doesn't catch on, and return the favor (I am strong willed too, I know).

Carrie said...

I've been struggling with my boys for weeks and weeks. I'm going to try your tips and also look into the book you mentioned. Those articles are opened up already!

Danielle said...

Great ideas. One of my kids is a strong-willed child. It's been a long road, but I now appreciate and love her will of steel and am trying to nurture that in the right direction rather than break it. After all, she's just like her mama....I know how well a strong will can work for you when it's used for good!

Amanda said...

I'm working on the yelling and nagging myself.

Lori @ Couponomic Stimulus Package said...

I have a VERY, VERY, VERY strong-willed daughter! I love the idea of a code word. I think she would feel control in the situation then.

Jessica @ This Blessed Life said...

Kristen, this is my first week participating - thanks so much for hosting this! I'm not sure if my wedding gift idea qualifies as a "tip" so if you need to delete it I promise I won't be offended. haha!

Destri said...

I so needed that little reminder...it's much easier to handle them when you remember how well it will serve them one day.

chrissy said...

Alas, I have a strong willed child too. Working daily on choosing my battles. It is never dull.

Kaye said...

What awesome advice. Our oldest is not strong-willed. In fact, he's a pushover and I worry about what that will mean for his future (although it's nice for us now). My daughter, on the other hand, although only an infant, seems like she will in fact be strong willed. Just like her mom. I might have to reference back to this post in about 2 years. =)

Great post and thanks for hosting WFMW!

Heather said...

Thanks for the tips, I'm definitely going to try them!

I really enjoy reading your blog. I have a Beautiful Blogger Award for you over on my site! http://crazytoddlers.blogspot.com/2010/02/i-won-award.html

Sherry said...

I love these tips. We've been having some issues lately and I've been slacking in the discipline dept with daddy gone. :( Like the key word one. Might have to use that with daughter. :D

Beverly @ The Buzz said...

I've always read that adding the "ok" at the end of a request gives a child the option of saying no. Then what do you do?

Kristen said...

Beverly, that's a good point. But I think when I say to my child "Go make your bed" she bristles. But when I say "It's time to go make your bed, okay?" she feels empowered. EITHER WAY, she can still say no. Adding the "Okay" doesn't change the fact that they always have a choice to obey or disobey. It just makes a strong-willed child feel like they are helping to make the choice. The bed still must be made. If it's not, there are consequences.

Melissa @Simply Mel said...

I too have a strong willed child! She's 4 and but has the attitude and emotional stability of a fourteen year old! Those are great tips. I love Dr. Dobson. I also highly recommend Dr. Kevin Leman's book "How To Make Children Mind Without Losing Yours". It's WONDERFUL. His advice also works wonders with strong willed children.

Molly said...

Not only does God LOVE you enough to give you two strong-willed children to cherish and raise, He also TRUSTS you to do a wonderful job for Him!

Skubaliscious said...

Thanks for the tips! I have a border-line strong willed daughter and lately I've felt like I'm doing more crushing than directing of her spirit. I think these tips will help a lot!

Rebecca at Toothwhale said...

Thank you for these tips, Kristen. I have a strong-willed child, and I struggle so much with raising her. She's almost three now, and I feel like I have been struggling since she was weeks old. I often have told myself she'll get easier, but my eyes are beginning to open to the idea that she may not. That this is WHO SHE IS. Your statement that "blessings can be complicated" went right to my heart. I love her so much, but because I find her so difficult, it doesn't always show. I'll try these tips and try to keep in mind the last, important one: choose the relationship over obedience.

One thing that I am just learning can work for us is to say what will happen if she doesn't do what I'm asking. For example, this morning, I had taken off her pajamas and was trying to get clothes on her so that we could leave for preschool, and she was resisting. I told her that we had to leave and if she didn't put on any clothes, she would be cold in the snow. I asked her, "Do you want to be cold in the snow?" She said no, and she helped me get her dressed.

Again, thanks.

Young Wife said...

What good advice! Sounds like you're a great mother.

Anonymous said...

Mostly good tips. I'm just wondering about #1. When you rephrase and ask "OK" at the end, isn't this just asking for them to say "NO!"?

One technique that works well for us is to give them a choice....You can either pick up your clothes or make your bed, etc. With both choices being acceptable to you, the parent.

shopannies said...

I believe I have 6 strong willed teens but then their parents are that way as well

Mommie Daze (Colleen) said...

Oh my word. I have strong-willed son, and I've been so frustrated with him lately. I needed to read this. Thanks for the tips, and the encouragement.

SkylarKD said...

"Okay?" totally doesn't work for us - we get a "No!" LOL
But then I remember that by phrasing it that way, in her mind, I've given her the option of choosing. So instead I rephrase it starting with please, and that works more often. But she's 3, so nothing is totally consistent! ;)

Jackie said...

I have been blessed with two VERY strong-willed children as well. Thanks for the tips.

Amy said...

A friend of mine, who has raised a couple of strong-willed children to adulthood, encouraged us when he said that once a strong willed child has a solid personal relaionship with God they are amazing! That their faith isn't as easily shaken as a more compliant child's might be.

Stacy said...

What's really funny is that while my kids scored in the 7 or
8's ...my hubby scored a 12! No suprise for me!

Jan said...

I have to respectfully disagree with #1- I don't think it's a good idea to add an "OK?" -don't ask your child's permission. I do however agree with giving them choice- two choices usually both which would be ok with you the parent, "Would you like to clean your room now or after supper?"

I have a very strong-willed 4 1/2 yr old. She wants a lot of control- I try to give her as many small choices as possible. It gives her a sense of control.

I really like the Love & Logic approach- my mantra is "Anger and Frustration feed Misbehavior". In other words don't let them make you emotional.

Your Frugal Friend, Niki said...

Wow, do I ever need this book! Thanks for the tips and recommendation.

:)

Debi Clark said...

Ahh! Wonderful! It's been quite an evening with the kiddos. And then I read your ideas and immediately started adding 'ok to the end of my request. It's working! He's responding! I'll try it out on my daughter tomorrow :)

The Stylish House said...

My husband and I always said "there is a reason they are so cute!" My strong willed child suddenly became the perfect angel over night, when she started school. Whew what a relief!

Vanessa Washburn said...

lovely post, great advice!

Alexia said...

Thanks for the tips! I've heard these before (ummm before I had kids) and now that I have a strong-willed child and I'm completely lost, it's nice to read them again! LOL

Cyndi said...

I have 3 teenage boys. One is extremely strong-willed but very independent and teachable and at a young age. The 3rd is a bit strong willed but not over the edge.

You might try Dr. Dobson's "Bringing Up Boys" great book as well.

Michelle said...

Thanks, Kristen. My 3yo is so strong-willed, we had to pull him out of preschool. I find it's easier to stay home than go out with him b/c people look at us like bad parents. They have no idea how much effort we put into this child. I taught some of the roughest, most defiant kids and am humbled daily by a preschooler.

I was also surprised how many qualities on the checklist apply to someone I see in the mirror every day. I'm implementing some of these strategies tomorrow!