As a mom it is tough sometimes to actually come to reality that children come with no handbook, instruction manual, or even a list of pointers. To put it bluntly parenting is the hardest job many of us will incur in our lives, but also the most rewarding.
Being a mom is such a special gift from God. And with these gifts come questions.
How can I be the best parent?
How do I know what I am doing is right?
Are my methods of punishment and reward appropriate?
The truth is complex. Our jobs as moms and dads are difficult especially when dealing with children that are a little tougher than others. The defiant and strong willed child is difficult. We love, nurture, and guide in all the same ways but sometimes the efforts are exhausting.
(While I have you here, if your kids are struggling with getting along, here are some tips to reduce sibling rivalry.)
Defiant children are typically more emotionally driven and often times the only way their actions are expressed is through anger or aggressive behavior. Explanations to a defiant child leave us lost in though and feeling defeated only to often times still receive a glare or refusal to do what they are asked.
My personal experiences with defiant children have been a very big part of my motherhood. For a while handling the defiance seemed impossible. I found myself struggling with my abilities as a mom and also mixed emotions as to why my child was so unhappy. Tantrums were so frequent is seemed as though planning anything was nothing I would even dream of attempting. Endless visits with several counselors left me feeling like I was only given clinical options rather than a therapeutic home approach. As a parent I felt like I was being tried or tested by God. Why is my child so angry? Why won’t he listen? Why does is feel like a battle with everything?
It took a lot of time along with trial and error. The roots of handling defiant behavior begin at home. Learning how to interpret my child’s behavior, become a better physical listener, and express my unwillingness to feed into bad behavior were key elements of my struggles. With age and time I think we have finally found a happy medium. These days I feel like a pro. I feel like I can conquer anything. My confidence reflects in my parenting which influences confidence in my children.
Trying moments are possible. Taking things one breath at a time and applying simple steps will leave you feeling a bit more accomplished.
8 Tips for Parenting a Strong Willed Child
1. Don’t let good behavior go unnoticed. This is especially important. Defiant children often times struggle horribly with confidence. Encouraging and recognizing things such as sharing or playing well with others really does wonders to let your child know they are wonderful.
2. Stick to what you have said. This means is you have asked your child to put away his or her clothes or take out the trash reminding them every 5 minutes is something that is unnecessary. Often times a defiant child will find an opportunity to argue or complain and search for reason not to do the task. You must be unwilling to participate.
3. Provide understanding for expectations. This means letting your child understand his or her choices. Expressing what you know they are capable of doing and then providing them with choices is great for encouraging better decision making.
4. Give positive reinforcement with enthusiasm. When you express your appreciation to your child make sure you are being enthusiastic and excited. This lets your child know they are appreciated also.
5. Don’t express drastic punishment. Stick to one thing not an add on of other punishments because your child throws a tantrum. The punishment should fit the crime and adding on a bunch of other things because the child continues with a tantrum or argument only fuels the fire.
6. Offer a reward system. When a defiant child can see their accomplishments they are encouraged, pleased, and building confidence.
7. Remove the child from the situation. If a tantrum is occuring at a store be prepared to leave immediately. That’s right leave that basket full of groceries and go home. Your defiant child will thrive off the attention you are giving to quiet them down but also the onlookers. Same thing for at home. A time out corner or a time out in their room is sufficient in letting a child know their actions are not acceptable.
8. Keep calm. Yelling and screaming accomplishes zero with a child who is throwing a tantrum. On top of that it is though you are saying that type of behavior is ok. In these moments it is ok to take a time out. Lower your voice and step away if necessary.
Here are some resources that are also useful.
Do you have any helpful pointers for parenting a strong willed or defiant child? Feel free to share your thoughts.
While you’re here, make sure you also check out the discipline method we’ve used in our home for over a decade.
5 Benefits of Kids Being Messy (It’s good for them!)