Your strong-willed child is a bless­ing not a curse, writes Alexandra Carl­ton

Sunday Mail - Body and Soul - - FRONT PAGE -

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 Sim­ 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?

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.