Our Kids: Who's the Parent?

Cheyenne, Wyo. (KGWN) The following tips are courtesy Ronn Jeffrey of Youth Alternatives.

1.Who’s in charge? Don’t ask your five year old if she’s a strong-willed child. She’ll quickly tell you, “Who do you think, Mommy!” These children are both a blessing and a challenge. They will test their parents but when positively directed, they become terrific teens and young adults.

2. What exactly is a strong-willed, or spirited, child? Some parents call them "difficult" or “stubborn,”but we could also see strong-willed kids as people of integrity who aren’t easily swayed from their own viewpoints. Strong-willed kids want to learn things for themselves rather than accepting what others accept, so they test the limits over and over.

3. Often, strong-willed kids are prone to power-struggles with their parents. However, it takes two to have a power struggle. If you can take a deep breath when your buttons get pushed, and remind yourself that you can let your child save face and still get what you want, you can learn to sidestep those power struggles. Dr. Laura Markham provides some great examples on how to deal with strong-willed children.


1. AVOID POWER STRUGGLES by USING RULES: That way, you aren't bossing them around. For example “The rule is we use the potty after every meal and snack,”or "In our house, we finish homework before we watch tv."

2. Give Choices. If you push your child will push back. If you offer a choice, he feels a little more in control. Only offer choices you can live with. If going to the store is non-negotiable and he wants to keep playing, an appropriate choice is: “Do you want to leave now or in ten minutes? Okay, ten minutes with no fuss? Let's shake on it....And since it could be hard to stop playing in ten minutes, how can I help you then?”

3. GIVE YOUR CHILD RESPONSIBILITY OVER THEIR OWN COMFORT: “I hear that you don’t want to wear your jacket today. I think it's cold and I am definitely wearing a jacket. Of course, you are in charge of your own body, as long as you stay safe and healthy, so you get to decide whether to wear a jacket. But I’m afraid that you will be cold once we are outside, and I won’t want to come back to the house. How about I put your jacket in the backpack, and then we’ll have it if you change your mind?” Let nature take it’s course. Once she realizes she won’t lose face by wearing her jacket, she’ll be begging for it once she gets cold.

4. SEE IT FROM YOUR CHILD'S POINT OF VIEW: For instance, he may be angry because you promised you would take him to a movie and you forgot. To you, he is overreacting. To him, he is justifiably upset, and you are being hypocritical, because he is not allowed to break his promises to you, but you broke yours to him. How do you clear this up and move on? Your model for your child how to handle this situation by apologizing and reassuring him you will try very hard to keep your promises in the future.

5. DISCIPLINE THROUGH RELATIONSHIP...NOT PUNISHMENT: Kids don’t learn when they’re in the middle of a fight. Like all of us, that’s when adrenaline is pumping and learning shuts off. Kids behave because they want to please us. The more you fight with and punish your child, the more you undermine her desire to please you. are fighting for respect. If you offer it to them, they don’t need to fight to protect their position. And, like the rest of us, it helps a lot if they feel understood.

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