Strong Willed Child/Adolescent

By Amanda Lerchie

Strong willed children and adolescents are unique beings.  They are often courageous, self-motivated, and determined.  Life with these youngsters can be amazing yet challenging; especially from a parent’s perspective. Parenting children and adolescents with this kind of tenacity requires a determination of its own.  Many times, there exists a power struggle between authority and will.  Parents/caregivers can find themselves frustrated and powerless to say the least.  The endless exertion of wills often leads to exhaustion and self-doubt on the parent’s part. To make matters worse, parents may see themselves in their strong-willed child.

Understanding what motivates your child or adolescent can provide a glimpse into the inner workings of their thoughts and behaviors.  Many strong willed children and adolescents need respect and a way to communicate their needs.  According to James Dobson, author of The Strong Willed Child, children with this type of personality need parents who offer creative, firm, but flexible guidance.  Dobson also points out that respect can be shown to strong willed children/adolescents through allowing daily choices.

There are a few fundamental things to consider when parenting strong willed children and adolescents:

1)      Less is More

The language we use with our kiddos is crucial.  Creative, positive phrasing can make all the difference. Dr. Laura Markham recommends using short, repetitive phrases like, “I hear that you don’t want to ____? Can you tell me about that? Helping them stay calm while addressing the issue.

2)      It Can be an Asset

These “difficult” traits can become your child’s greatest virtues as an adult.  Many influential and forward thinking leaders embody these personality characteristics.  With proper guidance, they can learn to use these skills in a productive way.

3)      Connection is Key

Connection and balance with these children and adolescents is essential to their well-being.  Offering consistency and love can help them thrive.  Discover their passions and help them explore them. Reach out for personal or professional help if you find yourself stumped.


Additional Resources:

▪The Strong Willed Child by Charles Dobson

▪Whole Brain Child ▪No Drama Discipline ▪Brain Storm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain by Dr. Dan Siegel & Dr. Tina Payne Bryson

▪Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids by Dr. Laura Markham