Your strong-willed child is a blessing not a curse, writes Alexandra Carlton
There’s many names for them. The less flattering ones include “stubborn”, “defiant”, “argumentative” or “oppositional”. A more generous observer opts for “strong-willed” and for pure euphemism then you might want to call them “spirited”. We’re talking about that child who owns the room and, more often than not, runs the family. They know exactly what they want and they certainly know how to get it.
Traditionally, parents would be encouraged to stifle a strongwilled child’s wilder excesses and bend him or her to the will of the adults around them via force or punishment. But more recently, we’re discovering the beauty of the child who knows their own mind. We’re also learning gentler ways to tame their determination without suppressing their spirit. appealing when transposed onto world leaders, CEOs or top-class athletes. Suddenly, these traits become much more desirable: think determined, authoritative and nonconforming.
Blogger Lynnette Sheppard from SimplyForReal.com writes of a time that her three-year-old son was throwing a massive tantrum. It attracted the attention of a passer-by who smiled admiringly and told the distraught mum that her son had “spunk” and would “accomplish great things”.
In fact, a recent study published in the journal Developmental Psychology tracked a group of people over 40 years, aged 12 to 52. The children, who were considered “rule-breakers”, went on to become overachieving, high-earning adults.
Now, that’s all very nice when it’s written down on paper. But how do you nurture a child’s strong will and self-possession without letting it tip into out-and-out defiance when you’re doing battle with one of these “indomitable spirits” in your home every day?