Parenting a strong-willed child is an uphill battle! A strong-willed child is truly born, strong-willed and comes out in the delivery room barking orders or telling you the room is NOT to their liking. But, I want you to know that strong-willed kids can be amazing. And I am going to share with you how to confidently parent your strong-willed teenager.
How to Confidently Parent Your Strong-Willed Teenager
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What is the Definition and Character Traits of a Strong-Willed Teenager
Based on what I have read there seems to be two main temperaments when parents refer to a strong-willed child.
One type of strong-willed child is:
- Very independent
- Wants to take charge
- Full of their own ideas
- Willing to charge ahead
- Will resist “demands”
Another type of strong-willed child is:
- Very perfectionist but also disciplined
- Able to stand alone
- Has strong ideas on how things “should” go
- Fearful about change
- Hyper sensitive to anything that smells of hypocrisy.
- Will resist “demands”
Both Types of Strong-Willed Children want:
- Opportunity to be in authority
- To see their ideas through
- And to know why
Most of the information I share will be directed to that latter type of child. You will find some helpful information if you are raising either as both types CLEARLY have their OWN ideas on how things should go! However, as I remember reading some information on strong-willed kids that didn’t always fit what I personally needed as a parent of a strong-willed child, I wanted to give you a heads up! Because I want you to walk away encouraged and more confident!
How Do You Know if You Have a Strong Willed Child?
If your teenager has many of the strong-willed traits above you probably have a strong-willed child. If your child can bring you to the point of mental exhaustion, wondering how you will survive another parenting day, you definitely have a strong-willed child.
While strong-willed teens can be thrilling to see in action and be very motivated, they are challenging. Living with and parenting a strong-willed child is exhausting because you never know when the other shoe is going to drop and when they will explode about something. Now, some of the tantrums they fortunately will have learned to control better by the teen years, but most days it feels like it is FULL on parenting, with no breaks!
Have a high energy, fiercely independent strong-willed child? Read this post from Lara at Overstuffed Life on strong-willed kids.
How to Discipline a Strong-Willed Child
Here are several pivotal ideas on training and disciplining your strong-willed teen. I learned many by trial and error and a few by finally finding THE parenting book on strong-willed kids (don’t worry I’ll let you know which one!).
Set Clear Boundaries and Household Rules with Strong-Willed Adolescent
Be as clear as possible on the rules in the house. If something is NOT OK for your teenager to do, let them know as soon as possible.
You will want to set crystal clear boundaries for a couple reasons. One, you will be challenged on said rule VERY soon, so you need to know what your rule is.
Two, your strong-willed child may act like you never said the rule. So you may even want to write it down. At one point, we created a driving contract with our strong-willed teen detailing what they could do and what we would do. I needed to pull the contract out a few times.
And thirdly, even if your strong-willed child isn’t always following the rules, they absolutely know the rules, and will call you out on it if you aren’t sticking to your set rules.
Your strong-willed child may also try to convince you that you shouldn’t enforce the rule since it’s not a good rule, or they can’t remember it. If the household rules are super clear or written down, it will make it that much easier for you to enforce the rule and give them the consequence with less mom guilt.
Don’t get Pulled into Arguments or a Power Struggle
Oh man, I wish someone had told me this. I would get pulled into an argument only to lose almost every time. Strong-willed teens are passionate about their ideas and their reasons are the best, in their mind. Don’t get pulled into the argument.
Enforce the consequence and then walk away. It is harder for them to continue arguing and WEAR YOU DOWN if you aren’t adding to the argument.
And if you keep the focus on the rules and what needs to be accomplished, you won’t be pulled into a no win power struggle with your teenager. As soon as your strong-willed teen thinks something is being “demanded” they will dig in and resist for all eternity!
So instead of saying, “You better get your homework done right now,” try “When will your homework be done, so I can take you to your friend’s house like you wanted?”
Giving Choices is the Best Discipline Strategy with Strong-Willed Teenagers
Give options! This was life changing!! You can bring your teen into compliance while still giving your teenager options.
For example, say you need your teenager to help you clean the garage. But instead of telling your teenager that they need to get into the garage right now and clean, give them options.
You may say to them, “We will be cleaning the garage on Saturday would you prefer to reorganize all the items once I carry them out of the garage? Or do you want to be in charge of carrying everything out of the garage?”
By giving your strong-willed adolescent options, you are directing their energy to figuring out what options they want to choose. You are giving them some healthy power and authority on the situation!
As I mentioned I told you I would tell you about THE book on parenting the strong-willed teen! The tip above came from the book called You Can’t Make Me, But I Can be Persuaded by Cynthia Tobias. This book was such a life-changer! I FINALLY felt like someone heard me as a mom and was giving me practical information that actually worked!
If you have a strong-willed child, you need to buy this book to have on hand! Parenting a strong-willed child is so challenging. Having someone on your team that can provide helpful information that works and helps to bring some peace to your home is priceless!
Even if you are thinking “I don’t like to read,” or “A parenting book can’t help me”, you are wrong. You Can’t Make Me, But I Can be Persuaded will benefit you even if you only read parts of the book, or you have never read a parenting book before!
Ask Your Difficult Teen for Their Opinion
Now, granted the idea of asking your strong-willed teenager their opinion on one more matter seems terrifying. But you will find that if you ask your strong-willed teen their opinion on the front end of a situation, they are surprisingly sensible.
Since most strong-willed children want to know the reason behind something and have LOTS of ideas, they will carefully consider the situation when asked their opinion. So if you are trying to get your teen’s help, ask their opinion.
When discussing how to handle a future discipline situation, strong-willed teens is often strict in suggesting a consequence for any potential future offenses. If your teenager does need a negative consequence, they will be more likely to accept their discipline since they were the one that suggested the consequence.
Raising an Amazing Strong-Willed Teen
When it comes to how to confidently parent your strong-willed teen, here are a few more things to keep in mind to keep your sanity.
Give Your Strong Willed Teenager Time to Come Around
As I mentioned before, try not to go toe to toe with your strong-willed child. If you pose things as someone wins and someone loses they will fight to the death. But if you give options and allow for them to come around to your idea they will work WITH you!
If your strong-willed adolescent makes a poor choice or says something disrespectful, give them a way out. Often I would tell my teen that what they said was hurtful or disrespectful. I would ask them if they wanted to try restating it again. Or I might say to my strong-willed child that I didn’t think talking now was working. We would talk later when they were more respectful.
At times, it felt like I was backing down or giving in, but typically my teen would go away and think about what they had said. Later, my teenager would be much more respectful and receptive!!
Push Your Strong-Willed Teenager Beyond Their Fear
Many strong-willed teenagers have such a high need to have control in their life that they fear the unknown. You will need to push them through several key life experiences to get them beyond their fear.
By the teen years, you are weary and want to avoid going to battle with your strong-willed teen. I get it! But this is one time your teenager will need you to push them. Help them apply for and secure that first job. Take them to explore various high schools, if they have options. Visit several colleges to encourage them to review their options.
My strong-willed teen fought me and fought me on calling someone to ask for a volunteer position. I had already talked to the person in charge and knew they needed and wanted volunteer help. And I was pretty sure my teen would love the work. So I kept after my teenager, despite their protests, fears and concerns. My teen FINALLY called and took the volunteer job. It is one of THE job skills they are getting paid to do today!
Give Authority Where You Can to Your Strong-Willed Teenager
Your strong-willed teen wants to be in authority. Give them authority wherever you can. Hand off an area of the house and let them know they are in charge! Check in and ask questions to keep them accountable, but try to do so without being disrespectful.
Put Your Strong-Willed Teenager Under Other Healthy Authority
As you can, wisely use other’s authority in your teenager’s life. Healthy mentors are great for every teenager. But as your strong-willed teenager is under other’s authority they will learn how to work and bend to authority in a respectful way. This will make your strong-willed teenager a better more empathetic leader in the long run. And when they come home worn out from working or playing hard, they are less argumentative!! Win, win!
Care for Yourself as a Parent to a Strong-Willed Teenager
Parenting a strong-willed child isn’t a job for the weak! A strong-willed child can bring you to the point of exhaustion, get you enraged in a matter of seconds and cause you to be worried and fearful about their future.
But you can do this and your strong-willed child is going to be an amazing adult…you just have to get them there:) So be kind to yourself! If you can find another mom friend that has a strong-willed child! No one understands your struggle more than another mom to a strong-willed teenager!
Here are a few things to keep in mind as you confidently parent your strong-willed teenager!
- Try not to feel guilty for how angry your strong-willed child can make you feel.
- Believe that if you are showing up to parent everyday, then you are one great parent!
- Give yourself breaks, where you allow yourself to be happy, even if your teen isn’t.
- Don’t be drawn into your strong-willed child’s fear and drama. It only makes it worse.
- Appreciate the intelligence and tenacity that your unique teenager has.
- Celebrate the little wins and release the parenting fails!
- Know that YOUR teen is going to be a fabulous, responsible adult!
How to Confidently Parent Your Strong-Willed Teen
Are you raising a strong-willed tween or teenager? Comment below and let us know how you are doing? Let us encourage or cheer you on!
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