Thursday, March 08, 2007

Dealing with a Strong Willed Child - TT# 2

In a family of hard headed people, Nolan (soon to be 3), perhaps, has the hardest head in this house. He pushes every boundary, fights every limit, and pushes me to the edge almost daily. Before you think I have a devil child, he also is very sweet and loving. He loves to sit on your lap, and cuddle. . . when it is his idea! That sweetness, combined with the strong will, can be a dangerous (from my point of view) combination.

Here is a list of things that I need to remember when dealing with my strong willed child. If you have a little hard head in your house, maybe they will work for you too.

1. Be Consistent.
If I told him yesterday he can't jump on the bed, I can not let him jump on the bed today, when it is so cute, because he is singing a silly song while jumping.

2. Give Choices When Possible.
Nolan once had a fit in McDonald's because I got him a hot fudge sundae. I got Kellen and Lydia the same thing, but got Vivian a yogurt. I didn't ask what he wanted. Now had I asked, he probably would have chosen the ice cream, but he wanted to make the decision.

3. Keep Routines.
He always watches a short video before his nap. Having this routine lessens (notice I did not say eliminates) the battle at nap time. He always battles his nap, claiming he isn't tired, and then sleeps for about 2 1/2 hours!

4. Lots of Loving.

5. Make Him Laugh.
When he is digging in his heals, a silly face or even a tickle can break the mood.

6. Follow Through on Threats.
Don't say it if you aren't going to do it.

7. Don't Argue with Him.
He seems to thrive on the battle. I need to hold my ground with out it turning into an argument.

8. Pick Your Battles and Win the Ones You Pick.

9. One on One Time.
He acts out when he hasn't gotten enough of this.

10. Don't Give in to the Charm when he is Being Rotten.
Easier said than done.

11. Catch Him and Praise Him for Being Good.

12. Enlist the Help of the Siblings
Our rule at dinner is that everyone at least taste everything that is being served. Nolan will refuse and dig in his heels, until Kellen offers him a bite. Then he opens up wide and tastes the food. Often finding he really does like it!

13. When all Else Fails . . .Send Him to Papaw and Mamaw's!


  1. I really deal with this a lot too. Perhaps I'm a little strong willed too? (did those words leave my mouth? GASP!) I struggle between what is "walking on egg shells" around this kid to keep the battles down and what is "suck it up kid, this is the way it is!"

  2. Parenting can be such a struggle.
    I learned early that a will can't win against a won'
    I can totally relate to your post.
    Stay strong.
    Great list!
    Happy TT'ing
    Mine is up

  3. This sounds so much like my two-year-old. She likes to cuddle more than my older one, but my battles with her are more severe as well! Thanks for your suggestions!

  4. I'm right there with my 6 yr old too. I will say he has gotten a little easier. We can now even sometimes go a week without a blowout instead of the hours we use to measure it by!

  5. Are you sure Nolan isn't Steven's long lost twin? Steven is out of the nap stage, but bedtime is a struggle. Despite the routine we have, he still fights it. Once he calms down, he's right off to sleep and he knows it. The thing that works the best to keep him in bed is laying down with him, but I often end up falling asleep right with him and that throws off my own routine at night. I love your list. I struggle with #10, too. He's cute and he uses it well! I also live by the choose your battles rule. That one is a lifesaver.

  6. my son is only 7 months old, but I'll take all the advice I can get!
    thanks for posting!!

  7. When my now-20-year-old son (also a hard head at times) was about 12, he had to see a psychologist because he made some stupid, kidding remark about knives in school. One thing the doctor noticed was how easily my son would draw me into an argument. It just went back and forth and nothing was accomplished. Of course, your child is much younger than he was then, but number 7 is exactly right. The next time James started in with his pouting, growling-about-something routine, I simply acknowledged he was upset and went back to what I was doing. I could see him watching me from the corner of my eye, waiting me to jump on him. I didn't...and that was that. It was actually pretty funny, but in the end, anything that stops non-productive arguments (uh, I mean, 'discussions') is great!

  8. Ooo, great ideas indeed!! Happy TT!

    Lil' Duck Duck

  9. These are all wonderful--that giving choices when possible one has been very successful around here. Especially with toddlers. When they're throwing a fit about one issue and I can ask "Would you rather have Cheerios or Fruit Loops for breakfast?" they can't deal with two issues at the same time and immediately switch tracks to the new thought presented. Especially when it involves food :) Tantrum forgotten, and they feel independent by being allowed to make an important lite-shattering choice like which cereal to eat.

  10. Thank you for such a great list! Some of my kiddos can be EXTREMELY strong willed. I'd better print this list ou!

    It's good to see a pix of you on the blog, too!

  11. Great list! I have more than one hard headed little guy over here, I'll have to keep your list on hand. Thanks! :)

  12. I hear you! When David (13) was about 3 I realized I was argued daily with a 3 yo, and losing! I stopped immediately!

    Now I argue with a 13 yo- sometimes I win- lol

  13. Let me guess, Nolan is a middle child? Mine can be sweet, but he likes to have control over decisions. Strong willed is a good adjective, keep that in mind when he is 16. I miss the younger years.

    Thank you for stopping by my blog.

  14. Oh, I'm thinking you could write a book on this, at least an article. And, btw, I would love to live on 100 acres of woodlands.

  15. My strong willed toddler is 16 now and a very pleasant teen.

  16. LOL! Reminds me of when i used to watch my nephew. Great advice.

    Thanks for stopping by my TT!

  17. You're a fantastic mom, Stephanie.

  18. Excellent list!

    I use many of these on my tour bus with my students and parents! Yes, parents!

  19. This is Isabella. I've read "The Strong Willed Child", "Dare to Discipline", "You Can't Make Me, But I Can Be Pursuaded", and "Positive Discipline". All of which have been very helpful. I've also gotten advice from another mom with strong willed children, my mom. ha ha I am very familiar with this list!

  20. I think those are some great tips....we all need to use them!!!!

  21. I totally agree with #13, send them to Grandma. Or in the case of my strong-willed one, send to grandpa, cause he is the spitting image of his attitude.
    Inconsistancy brings my strong willed one into a crazy tail spin of anger.

  22. I've got a strong willed spirited 3 year old and we cab butt heads all day long. LOL I really have to concentrate on being a better me to help him.

  23. I am from India. I have a three year old daughter born and being brought up in India ! Yet, she could be any child described in the post or the comments ! Children are what brings uniformity into our world, I think. And struggle ! And joy !
    Great post !

  24. So true - great tips! ;) My mom is always telling me how this strong will is a survival skill they need for the world they live in and will grow to become leaders in - I keep telling her to keep reminding me because it brings me to my knees daily!! :)

    Holly's Corner
    Here via the Carnival of Family Life. ;)

  25. Yes, great list!!! #10 is just SO hard :)

  26. Great post! I have a strong willed child who has now survived all the way up to age 8 (and the crowd goes wild...) Within the last couple of years I began telling him (after an altercation - because he knows he's prone to discipline) "There's nothing you can do to make me stop loving you." Hammering that into him gives him a sense of security in a world in which he knows he has ornery, strong willed tendencies!

  27. I had one of those 22 years ago -- Somewhere along the way I learned and used most of your tips -- Now at 25 years of age, my son, if I must say so, Is the best. He's very smart, has a great job, married to a beautiful woman and still loves me. He calls me and his dad often, comes to see us often and Hugs and Kisses us everytime. Don't give up on these little rascals - Enjoy every minute - even those days that you think you can't take another minute. It is so awesome to see them turn into such great adults.

  28. Hi! I just started following your blog b/c I found it when I googled "How to deal with a strong willed child"! I am a mother of 3. Two boys and a girl. My daughter Olivia is 4 and is my strong willed child. Thanks for sharing your tips on dealing your own strong willed child. I look forward to reading more of your posts in the future.