The Strong Willed Child!

Updated on October 04, 2012
T.F. asks from Lewisville, TX
11 answers

I need some help in finding what matters to my strong willed child. We have taken away tv, all of her activites and nothing seems to phase her for long periods of time at 5yrs old. She just goes to the next thing. So I figured I would try the "rewarding postive behavior". For those who have tried you have a method or chart that you used?

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answers from Dallas on

Looks like you have received some great advice especially from those who were strong willed themselves. I am a kindergarten teacher and positive rewards for good behavior have always worked best for me in dealing with all children. With the strong willed ones it has been helpful to recognize their gifts and allow them to make choices and lead at small tasks whenever possible.

For recognizing positive behavior I have painted differenty color sections on a yardstick and given the child(ren)a clothespin to clip on and move up a section each time they do something positive. When they reach the top, they get a prize. Stickers on a chart starting with a few spaces to fill up at first and then adding more spaces works well. So does filling a jar with marbles, ping pong or golf balls. Prizes for reaching the top of the yardstick, completing a sticker chart, filling a jar, etc. should be something the child really likes.

I do not take away something earned like a marble for bad behavior because that brings the discipline back to the negative emphasis. If you need to enforce a consequence for negative behavior, I would keep it unrelated to the positive rewards. Someday you will be glad you have a strong willed child because, she will more likely be motivated and successful in life.

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answers from Dallas on

I WAS that strong willed child. I have yet to see if I will be "blessed" with that trait in my son, but he is showing some signs :) I would stongly suggest in ADDITION to discipline and reward (both of which are important whether they seem to work or not) that you encourage and help her learn to focus that strong will in a productive manner.

It will always be her personallity and it is your job now to teach her how to channel it. She's not too young to get involved (with your help) in charities, art, music, etc.

My father tried his darndest to "break" my will -- and he is so glad now that it never worked. I was the first in my family to go to college then to grad school and am the only one of 4 siblings with a steady career.

I'm sure that seems far out, but they grow up so fast. Keep taking away privileges when behavior is inappropriate and rewarding for particularly good behavior, but put equal focus on encouraging her to use that determined personallity for good! GOOD LUCK!!

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answers from Dallas on

My child is 6. I have been using a reward system I bought at a learning store since she was 2. I change the rewards/values on her birthday to up the ante each year. For example, she used to get a token for brushing her teeth. Now she can only get it if she does it without being told. The tokens really helped me when she was a toddler because I could take them away if I needed a small punishment for something abstract - like lack of cooperation. At 5, I put computer time in the mix. Matters to her more than tv. Get the most value you can out of stuff like this - must be earned and can be taken away and can be earned back! When she's getting close to earning the reward, talk it up! Maybe at the holidays you can get her something she really wants...if she earns it! Let her earn a trip to ChuckeeCheese or zoo. I also started paying for things like pulling weeds. So now I can fine her (when that makes sense as the punishment). My child is sensitive as well as strong-willed so I have to use finesse in giving consequences and lots of positive. Some consequences are very small (remember you are really trying to get them to make the right choice, not make them miserable.)Otherwise she tries to pull a "poor me" which is frankly just another strategy to get her way. It requires alot more work to raise a strong-willed child but think how determined and independent-minded she will be!

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answers from Dallas on

My almost 15 yr old is a very strong willed child. You go through some tough times figuring out what works best.

One thing I refuse to do is to squash her strong willed personality...down the road and even beginning now with her in high is a good trait.

We did reward positive behavior. EVERY time I had an opportunity to praise her (legitimately) I would.

As she got older, some things were more precious to her such as cell phone, computer, ipod. Now we will take one of her possessions she feels that she can't live #1.

Hang in there, it does get better. They grow up too fast!

the other TF



answers from Abilene on

I had strong-willed daughters -- with quite different personalities. While we read James Dobson's "The Strong Willed Child," we also relied on a little pamphlet by Al & Pat Fabrizio called "Under Loving Command" (you can find it online). It emphasized the importance of our consistency in all things.

We also made our own charts for the girls that included things like the particular time they needed to get up and come into the kitchen to check it; time for showers; getting ready in the morning for school; making their lunches; getting ready for bed -- whatever we needed to have them do by a particular time. If they got all their checkmarks on time, they got some kind of prize -- whatever motivated them; if they did not, they got demerits. I don't remember all the particulars -- but they both grew up to be independent, responsible CPAs.

God bless you in your efforts to help her grow up to use all her talents and be responsible for her actions.



answers from Dallas on

I've got one at home too, my 4 1/2 year old son. I just get a marker or pen and paper and make my own charts. I've done many different ones for different reasons. Varying from "3 strikes your out" where he gets marks for doing the bad behavior throughout the day, and if he does not get 3 strikes he gets his sticker or whatever at the end of the day, and certain number of stickers equals some reward; or marbles in a jar where marbles are added and removed for positive or negative behaviors; or your basic sticker chart where so many stickers are required for the reward. I have varied these to last anywhere from 1 week to a month or longer, and rewards have varied from small toy at store or going out for ice cream, to going to Chuck E Cheese, all the way up to a trip to the water park. I usually try to target a specific behavior up front and it has seemed to help overall. Good luck.



answers from Orlando on

I have been reading a very interesting book that describes the difference between bribing, blessing or rewarding our children. I became intrigued to read further and found this book to be a huge blessing for me and my children. It is called: From Combat Zone to Love at Home: The Happy Face Token System by D. Preece. She gives a guarantee that her program will work and states that this program has built in consistency for mom. She's right! My 9 year old daughter actually put her arms around my neck and thanked me for the Happy Faces! She is a new girl and I am a happy mom.



answers from Dallas on

Isn't there a class that is offered occasionally on the Strong Willed Child???
I would be interested in attending if anyone knows when it is and who offers it!



answers from Dallas on

Be consistent with discipline, control your emotions, reward positive behavior, but don't hesitate to punish when necessary. Give her choices, so she can feel like she has control of her life, For example: would you like peas or carrots with dinner? Like TF said, don't squash it, that strong-willed personality will kick in when teen peer pressure tries to cajole her to experiment with alcohol, drugs, and sex. I know that doesn't help much now, but I always try to look for the silver lining. When my strong-willed children were younger I found James Dobson's book the Strong-Willed Child very helpful.



answers from Amarillo on

somebody has all ready told you about the book: Strong Willed Child by Dr. James Dobson and I am here to second that...that is an awesome book and it sure helped me with my strong willed child. Please, please check into it. I really do think it will help and give you fresh perspective on dealing with your child.



answers from Dallas on

I have a very strange willed child as well. And I have found that sometimes it's not taking away TV and stuff that get's him. If I really want to get to him I will talk away his favorite toy that he likes to sleep with. That makes that biggest impact on him. Good luck and God bless you!!!!!

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