How to Parent a Strong Willed Child
Parenting isn’t an easy task but parenting a strong willed child can be very challenging. It may seem to be a battle getting your children to do what you have asked, no matter how simple the request. Strong willed children are independent and stubborn, they want to do what they want and when they want to. The good news is that there is hope. The book “Parenting the Strong-Willed Child” gives you a 5 week program with clear steps to improve your parenting skills and practical tools to better manage your child’s (and your) behavior.
Where Do Things Go Wrong?
The book brings to light one important aspect regarding how parents reinforce the negative behaviors without even noticing. One way of doing this is by giving attention to your children when they are misbehaving and little attention when they are doing what is expected. The principle behind this is that your attention works as a reinforcer. Children crave their parents’ attention and are willing to do what it takes to get it. “Mommy look! Mommy look, look, look, look, looooook…” Does it sound like your child?
When children feel they don’t have enough attention, they will start behaving in a way that will attract it. They know that if they run around the house, you are probably going to ask them to stop. Well, this is better for them than when you weren’t even looking. If they keep running, the next step may be to get out of your chair and look at your child in the eye and ask him/her again to stop. For your child, this means more attention! During this process and without being aware of it, you are reinforcing the disturbing behavior.
Where To Improve:
The idea the book develops consist on improving the interaction with your children, give them the attention they need and finally use attention to reinforce your child’s appropriate behavior.
Playing with your children is important, but knowing how to do it is essential. In general, interactions with children include a lot of commands: “do this”, “don’t do that”, “No!” Can you imagine someone telling you what to do and what not to do every day? A perfect time to give your children some autonomy and freedom is when playing together. To do this, all you need to do is to let your children lead the game without asking questions, or giving opinions and lessons. So please, refrain from inquiries, sharing your ideas, or giving directions. This is the time for you to follow their instructions and model how to do that. If they don’t include you in the game, you can narrate as if you were a sports commentator who is very interested in what they’re doing.
Make play a part of your routine:
As little as 20 minutes every day (10 in the morning and 10 in the afternoon would do) will help you practice those skills and give your children some of that attention they need. Try instituting play in other scenarios. The car is an excellent time to put into practice one of those guessing games or find a certain brand or color of car. These interactions will help fill the bank of needed attention and may have the extra benefit of having your strong willed child stay in their seat.
I highly recommend you read this book and start making changes to live a more peaceful life for everyone involved. What are you waiting for?