Time outs, yelling, taking things away, rewards…
Are these tactics not working with your child? Let me guess: Is your child strong willed and sensitive, but also intelligent, creative and funny?
If you are struggling with a spirited child, read on.
👉 I appreciate the effort and different approaches you are trying. It can be frustrating when you are putting in a lot of effort in and it isn’t paying off. You want to help your child learn and do a good job as a parent. You’ve tried a number of things to get your child to do what they need to do, but it isn’t working and frankly you are becoming exhausted.
I’ve worked with many children like this. My son was the same way too. I had to learn a different way of approaching them. The punishment/reward stuff just didn’t work. They were too smart and could see right through it.
🤔 But what are these children seeing through, what are they resisting?
Strong willed children resist pressure from the outside, especially if the message is to “conform”. They want autonomy/independence and ultimately want to be directed from within. THEY want to understand what is going on, and they want to make decisions too.
(This is actually healthy and will serve these children really well into the future if their spirit is not crushed. However parenting these children can be challenging to deal with)
Do you understand what I am talking about? Have you felt this before yourself? Strong willed children often have strong willed parents you know… 😄 Have you felt what it feels like when someone tries to make you do something, especially if you think their reasons aren’t good or you feel they just want control you?
There is a kind of person that values being VALUED above all else. Children are like this too, but it’s hard to see when we are the parent.
When we attempt to primarily motivate from the outside in, we are not respecting this important need of the strong will child.
I expect that if you keep trying to make your strong willed child do things by motivating them from the outside without meeting this important need, you will keep banging your head against the wall. He will continue to negatively react to your attempts at trying to control, whether punishment or reward.
It doesn’t mean you can’t teach your child how to behave prosocially and give them responsibility, but you have to provide the child what they need if they are going to trust you and listen to you. Your spirited child wants to work with you. He wants to feel part of the team, not the lowest rung on the ladder.
I know personally what this is like. I remember wanting to feel valued, respected and have some autonomy as a child.
You can give your child what they need and still have influence. In fact, you will have more influence this way. Do this by: seeking to understand, actively listening, validating, collaborating, giving choice, having routines, having a few limits/rules that make sense to them and then being consistent about them.
And last but not least, lead by example. We must act in a calm, positive and fair way ourselves, Consistently. Day in and Day out.
The idea is to work WITH the strong willed child, not against him/her.
Take a minute to imagine what kind of leader motivates you. Who do like cooperating and collaborating with? What kind of person?
Did you find this useful, let me know. Drop a comment below.
❤️ With love and respect,