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Tips for Raising a Strong-Willed Child

author image Jonathan Croswell
Jonathan Croswell has spent more than five years writing and editing for a number of newspapers and online publications, including the "Omaha World-Herald" and "New York Newsday." Croswell received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Nebraska and is currently pursuing a Master's of Health and Exercise Science at Portland State University.
Tips for Raising a Strong-Willed Child
Two parents running through a field with their parents. Photo Credit George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images


Strong-willed children often challenge parents. Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family believes that no matter how well you parent, a strong-willed child will test your abilities. As difficult as it may be to parent your child positively and effectively, use strategies that will encourage your child how to respond to limits.

Seek Child's Input (Sometimes)

Allowing your child make his own decisions or give input can help empower him and make it easier for him to handle the times when you override him. Letting him pick out his clothes for the day or help choose the menu for lunch and dinner will make him feel like his opinion is valued. When you can't appease him, such as when he has to dress up or is forced to do things he doesn't want, he'll be more likely to go along with less of a fight.

It's All About Phrasing

Strong-willed children tend to bristle when given a command from their parents, according to Families Online Magazine. When you do need to insist on your child complying with a command, pay attention to how you phrase the directive. By speaking to your child in a respectful manner, she's more likely to comply because she feels valued and important. You might say, "I understand that you don't want to come inside now, but it's time to get ready for company. Let's suggest that we all go outside together after our guests arrive."


Because many strong-willed children are problem-solvers, presenting tasks as a problem needing solving will stimulate your child's mind and make him feel involved in the situation. This can be a creative way of accomplishing tasks and chores without giving your child a mandate, and he won't feel like he's being forced into it.

Be Patient

Allow your child time for her to find herself and process her emotions, even if you aren't sure that's what she needs. Stay calm even when your child is unruly and difficult to manage. Maintain a strong connectionwith your child, also. She will come around eventually, and abandoning her emotionally while she's struggling to get along in her world will only compound her frustration.

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