Parenting the Strong Willed Child: 5 Discipline Strategies

by: Rebecca Desfosse
You know you've got a strong willed child on your hands when they won't respond to any type of discipline strategies you have up your sleeve. Here are some tips on what might actually work.
Tips on parenting a strong willed child
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Parenting a strong willed child can be challenging. Kids with a strong will refuse to respond to any of your "go to" discipline tricks. Take a toy away? They're on to the next one. Sit them on a chair for time out? They refuse to sit down. Try to redirect them to a different activity? They throw a temper tantrum that just won't quit. While their stubbornness will serve them well in the future when they won't let anything stand in the way of their dreams, it does present quite a challenge when you're trying to teach them not to draw on the walls. Here are five discipline strategies that actually work to help teach your strong willed child right from wrong.

1. Use Positive Reinforcement

Girl with sticker chart parenting strong willed child

Photo source: Flickr

You already know that negative reinforcement (like time outs, etc.) doesn't work. Instead, try positive reinforcement and reward your child for good behavior. Whenever they do what they're supposed to do, give them some heartfelt praise or place a sticker on a behavior chart so they can see their progress. One helpful tool is the cotton ball method, which is especially effective with strong willed kids. Whenever you notice your little one doing the right thing even if it's the smallest thing, pop a cotton ball into a glass jar. Then give a prize once the jar is filled to the top.

2. Pick Your Battles

Strong willed kids have strong opinions about everything – what to wear, what to eat, what to do – and you quickly learn that you can't argue about everything. So, pick your battles. It's perfectly okay to let your little one wear snow boots in the middle of July and be a little more rigid when it comes to not hitting their brother.

3. Walk the Walk

Kids learn best not by listening to the things we say, but by observing our behavior and emulating it. If you want to get your child to listen, learn to walk the walk and practice what you preach. If you want your little one to be kind, let them see you being kind to others, especially when you don't have a reason to. If you want them to stop yelling, watch your own tone.

4. Give Choices

Kids can sometimes feel like everything is out of their control – they go to school at this time, come home at that time, and can't eat mac and cheese for every meal – and this feeling can cause them to act out, especially when it comes to strong willed kids. Let your little one feel like they have a little more control by offering two choices that you would be happy with, such as, "Do you want broccoli or peas with dinner?" or "Do you want to wear the blue dress or the green one?"

5. Drop the Rope

child yelling parenting strong willed

Photo source: Flickr

Sometimes, you'll find yourself knee deep in a battle of wills arguing with a strong willed child, especially if you're strong willed yourself. The best thing you can do in this situation is drop the rope and walk away. When you're both calm, you can start up the conversation again with a fresh outlook.

Parenting the strong willed child? Check out more discipline strategies to get you on the right path.

Featured image source: Flickr