When I was a child, I had a very strong will and a hot temper. Well-meaning people would tell my mom she needed to break my strong will or she’d be in for it when I got older.
My mom is a pretty compliant person, but that was one thing she was very stubborn about. “Absolutely not,” she told them. “God put that strong will in her and I will not break it.” She struggled through with me.
I was stubborn, resistant to immediate obedience, and always wanted everyone to see things my way.
My mom rarely saw the fruit of her efforts right away. But she persevered. She didn’t parent me the way others thought she should. She didn’t allow me to get away with disrespect or disobedience, but she also knew not to push too hard on issues that didn’t matter.
I’m so grateful.
And so is she.
She’s told me so many times, “Davonne, I am so glad I didn’t break your will. I’m so thankful I didn’t listen to the people. Your strong will is the most beautiful thing about you now. You don’t give up. You can accomplish anything you set your mind to.”
And, she got another wish too. In very frustrating moments, she’d shout, “I hope you have a child who’s just like you one day!” Guess what? I did 😁
As my mama used to say, “What goes around, comes around.”
So now I’m parenting my own strong-willed, passionate child. But I have something my mom didn’t have – I saw how her hard work paid off. I’m so far from perfect, but I genuinely try my best in life because my mom diligently taught me how to channel my will for good.
I’m teaching my child to do the same.
Are some days crazy-hard? Yes. Do I ever get frustrated and worried and want her to stop questioning every single thing and just calm down already?! Absolutely.
But my mom knew my strong will could be a wonderful thing if channeled properly. And now I know that same secret thing about my daughter.
In addition to the tips I’m about to share with you, I want to let you know that three books helped me tremendously with parenting my strong-willed child. They are:
- The NEW Strong Willed Child by James Dobson
- You Can’t Make Me (But I Can Be Persuaded): Strategies for Bringing Out the Best in Your Strong-Willed Child by Cynthia Tobias
- Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp
Moms of strong-willed kids, don’t give up! Don’t give in to them, but don’t give up either! They can use those God-given wills for amazing things some day if they just choose to channel their energy properly. We can teach them how!
Here are 10 tips for parenting your own strong-willed child:
1) Remember that you only have to stay strong for 2 seconds longer than your child.
That’s it – just 2 seconds!
“The rod and rebuke give wisdom, But a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.” Proverbs 29:15 (And no, this verse isn’t advocating child abuse. It’s advocating intentional and diligent training!)
2) Pick your battles.
Safety, respect, and family values are three battles worth fighting. Whether their shirt matches their socks? Not so much.
“A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1, NKJV
3) Ask God regularly to help you see the positives about your child’s personality.
“For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.” Psalm 139:13-14, NKJV
In fact, go ahead and insert your child’s name into the verses:
“For You formed (my child’s) inward parts; You covered (my child) in my
mother’swomb. I will praise You, for (my child) amis fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.” Psalm 139:13-14, NKJV
4) Give yourself a time-out when the moment is getting too intense.
Remember that, even when administering discipline, we are still called to be ambassadors for Christ.
“[The virtuous woman] opens her mouth with wisdom, And on her tongue is the law of kindness. She watches over the ways of her household, And does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; Her husband also, and he praises her:” Proverbs 31:26-28, NKJV (emphasis mine)
5) Stop parenting for approval.
Giving in to your child – or punishing them – because of what others think is not the way to parent any child, but especially not the strong-willed kids!
“The Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7, NKJV
6) Teach your children to honor God.
While we can’t force our kids to love God, we can honor Him with our lives, set a godly example, teach our children about Christian evidences, read the Bible together, and be actively involved in a Biblically sound church.
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:4-9, NKJV (emphasis mine)
7) Think about the future.
You may not see fruit in the moment, but consider the fruit later – if you teach your child how to channel their strong will for good, they can do amazing things one day!
“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. ” Proverbs 22:6, NKJV
8 ) Believe in your child.
I will often whisper to my own strong-willed child, “You are going to do amazing things for God one day. I don’t care if you’re a teacher or an astronaut or a stay-at-home mom, as long as you love God. Your job will only matter for a few years, but your soul will matter for eternity. I know you’ll choose well.”
“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man’s all.” Ecclesiastes 12:13, NKJV
9 ) Do something together that you both enjoy.
When we’re in the thick of it, sometimes the last thing we want to do is have fun. But we – and our child – may need the reminder that we love them and we’re a family and we can take breaks from the hard to just do something enjoyable!
“A merry heart does good, like medicine, But a broken spirit dries the bones.” Proverbs 17:22, NKJV
10) Know you’re the mom God chose for your children.
God gave your children to you, with your quirks and strengths and weaknesses. He knew you’re the mom they need. While you’re not perfect, you are the best mom for your kids.
“And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
If you have a strong-willed child, what has helped you? Share your favorite tip or resource in the comments!