Strong willed children & how to handle them

StrongWilledChild (1)Oh you know,…… they are oh so cute and cuddly when they first come home from the hospital.  They are so sweet and warm and they smell delightful.  As the weeks go by then you start seeing the sweet smiles, and gummy grins to their first time they sit, crawl, and then start to walk. As your little one gets bigger their personality and temperament starts really coming out.  You start seeing whether you child is shy, outgoing, compliant, or strong-willed.  

 I think for most families, one of their children will end up being strong-willed. A strong-willed personality isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it is if you don’t properly shape it and keep it under check.

In a family our size, I would probably say I have 2 children I can clearly say that are strong-willed.  It can be very challenging and tiring!  (Also let me add….I’m not a parenting expert just a regular mom to 8 kids and this is what has worked for me!) Be reminded that God doesn’t give us more than we can handle.  And know that God created each child in a special way for a special purpose.

So what do you do in the mean time?  How do you handle a child that is challenging and at times seems like it’s always a battle.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind while dealing with a strong-willed child:

  • Pick your battles.   Not every situation or every event has to be a power struggle.  Learn to pick your battles and not go head to head on every little thing.
  • See the positive.  Sometimes when dealing with a child that is more time consuming and challenging you tend to just see the negative.  Learn to see some of the positives and point them out as much as possible.
  • Stand your ground.  There are times when you as the parent MUST stand your ground on certain issues or rules.  That is that!  It can be tiring but in the end it is better that the child knows there are somethings just not up for discussion or debate.  You know the areas in your family that are most important and things that just can not be compromised.
  • Be consistent.   With any parenting….consistency is key!  But when dealing with a child that can be stubborn, you’ve got to learn to be consistent with your boundaries and rules.
  • Love them.  I know this one may sound a bit much, but sometimes it’s hard to truly love them when all day it can be frustrating.  You sometimes need to go before God and ask for the strength to love them where they are.  Try and take one on one time with them and just put your arm around them and just show them unconditional love.
  • Pray.     This is a huge, huge one!  You must make a point to daily lift their name before the Lord.  Ask God to give you wisdom first on how to handle them.  Ask God for the strength and grace each day to better communicate on their level.  Prayer is a powerful tool and something that will help us as moms to draw closer to God. Here’s a little help with finding quiet time here.

Girls on Bald Head Island, North Carolina beach.

Here’s something I read from Kendra Smiley “The Journey of a Strong-willed Child”, she said  “Ask God to show you the vision He has for your child’s future, and what specific and measurable goals you and your spouse should set to help your child get there.”

Remember that God has a wonderful plan for each of your children, but God designed this child with a strong-willed temperament for a reason!  Keep that in mind.

For me I’m just starting to see progress in one of my two children that are strong-willed.  It’s been a long road at times, & tiring too, but seeing the progress is very encouraging!

Does that mean I won’t have any more problems?….. not at all but know that if you give it to the Lord and depend on Him for help, you will start to see remarkable difference in your parenting skills and how that child learns to handle themselves.

Parenting a child can have it’s challenges but when dealing with children that are strong-willed it can feel like it’s never ending.  Hang in there and keep on loving them, keep on connecting with them, keep on praying for them………Remember God is the one who formed this child and He knows them better than you!   Hang in there Mom, your not alone!

Here are a few resources that maybe of help::

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11 Responses to Strong willed children & how to handle them

  1. Deanna says:

    Great post! I have a strong willed 3 year old and it’s not easy. Sometime I think a break from parenting would be nice. 🙂 Love your reminder that God not only created them strong willed for a reason but He also made me her mom for a reason. (I was a strong willed child too. Sometimes my mom just laughs when I tell her Kenna stories.)

    Side note, I’m the oldest of 8 kids so I think it’s cool that you have that many. There are 17 years between us. 7 girls and the last was a boy!


  2. Ugochi says:

    I have 3 young boy Jennifer, and many times I have to really pray for grace. It can get really tough with a strong willy but God is faithful and able to help us. Thanks a lot for sharing these tips, do have a super blessed week!


  3. jessica says:

    Hi Jennifer, thank you so much for this post it is encouraging to know I’m not alone. I’m a happy momma to six about to issue another. My 8 year old daughter is the most trying ,fiery thing I’ve ever met and she’s all mine. She loves to challenge our authority and is also very dramatic and teases and torments her siblings often then she cries and says every one hates me . So I understand what you mean about finding it hard to love your child at times. I tell her I’ll always love her but if she doesn’t change her ways she won’t have many friends as she grows because people don’t want to be around a tormented. One day she asked me if I’d like to have two of her, oh my , what does a good momma say. Thank you for sharing your wisdom along the way.


    • Jennifer says:

      Hi Jessica…. I’m glad you found some encouragement through this post. And you are NOT alone! Continue to pray for her daily and find ways to encourage and give her some positive reinforcement as much as possible. Hang in there!!! It will get better soon! Blessings!


  4. Jenifer says:

    I have a couple of strong willed boys. Thank you for this.

    Thanks for linking up with Woman to Woman’s Word Filled Wednesday. God bless!


  5. A couple of my strong willed children are now adults — and they are LEADERS! They are excelling in their employment and are willing to Stand Alone on biblical principles. Young parents should try to keep that in mind during the exhausting years of parenting strong-willed children! If properly trained, these children may make outstanding leaders in the future!


    • Jennifer says:

      I SO AGREE!!! I know God made them that way for a purpose, it’s trying to train and shape them and allow God to direct their path to possibly lead others! Thanks so much for stopping by! Blessings!


  6. Titus 2 Homemaker says:

    Great advice!  I would add one thing: understand your children (as best you can).  I am strong-willed, myself – the “typical” strong-willed type.  I have a daughter, though, who was incredibly strong-willed especially as a toddler/preschooler and I thought I would pull my hair out trying to figure out what to do with her because no response I tried worked.
    It turns out she’s not like me at all!  She actually has a very sweet, quiet personality overall.  (That’s a lot of what threw me for a loop.)  I’m learning that there’s this whole other “flavor” of strong-willed.  It’s more of a quiet digging in of the heels than a screaming-in-your-face “No, I won’t!”  And they come out of two radically different personalities.  What would have worked with me did not work with my daughter, because her whole response was born out of a completely different motivation.  Often what I’ve found (’cause her little sister is very similar and I’m getting more right with this younger sibling than I did with her!) is that she digs in her heels because of some *other* thing that she lacks the ability to express.  If we can get to the bottom of that, the original thing is not an issue.
    For instance, my youngest daughter was supposed to be letting the oldest daughter put her shoes on, and she was going ballistic over it, completely refusing to allow her shoes to be put on.  Conventional wisdom would suggest we should have spanked her, but experience has taught me that it won’t work (in this situation, I mean) AND it will escalate the emotional response, because that’s what it is – emotional.  It’s not “willful,” exactly.  I don’t remember what it turns out she was upset about – her sister had the wrong shoes, or she didn’t have her socks on yet or something.  But because she wasn’t able to articulate the problem, she responded the only way she knew how – by freaking out over the idea of those shoes going on her feet.  As soon as we got her socks on, or found the shoes that <em>fit</em>, or whatever it was, there simply <em>was no issue</em>.
    Certainly there are times when they’re truly just being defiant.  Or when they <em>think</em> there’s a problem and just need to get over it.  (“No; you’re going to wear the pink shoes.”)  But I think these two daughters did this same thing a lot.  They’re both very emotional girls and when they’d have an emotional reaction it would cause them to have difficulty communicating their needs or desires, so they’d just dig in and wig out.  And disciplining at this point would only escalate things.  This happens less and less the older they get, because their communication abilities increase!
    I just wanted to share in case there are other mamas out there like me, wondering why they’ve tried <em>all</em> the advice for strong-willed children and it isn’t working.


  7. joanneviola says:

    Wonderful post sure to encourage & help many. A strong willed child will break down any mom 🙂 Often both mom & child are changed as handle them with God’s wisdom and grace. Blessings!


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