By Melodie Veldhuizen
Does your child’s behaviour sometimes drive you up the wall? It feels as if he/she is out to challenge your authority on purpose. You experience his/her as petulant and naughty, while in actual fact he/she is merely strong-willed. These children are often also referred to as spirited, who will not let coaxing and flattery convince them to do something against their will or let go of specific behaviour.
A strong will in children could be genetic, or an acquired habit.
Test your child’s behaviour with the aid of the following characteristics to determine if he/she is actually just naughty or petulant and if he/she might be stubborn or strong-willed.
Characteristics of strong-willed children
· Do not give in to external pressure and aren’t fazed by opposition.
- Refuse to do anything against their will.
- Do what they want to do, in their way and when they want to do it.
- Insist upon getting their own way.
- Have a strong sense of what is right and wrong and will fight tooth and nail in this regard.
- Make their own rules and don’t hesitate to prescribe to friends and even adults.
- Have their own opinion about a matter and don’t listen to someone else’s opinion readily.
- Will learn things by trial and error rather than by following instructions.
- Don’t like instructions and prefer to be allowed to make their own choice.
- Have strong leadership qualities and are often bossy.
- Intense anger outbursts due to low tolerance levels and struggle to express their anger in a socially acceptable manner.
- Impatient and loath waiting, for example during a game, when they want something, or stand with you in a queue.
- Poor sleepers and every evening is a struggle to get them in bed and keep them there.
- Ignore warnings such as “Don’t climb up there” or “Be careful”.
- Do things at their own pace. They finish that which they enjoy in a flash, but move at a snail’s pace when doing something they hate.
- Insist on a reason for everything. They question every rule and decision and won’t do anything just because an adult says, “Do it because I so”.
- Can argue an issue forever. They enjoy becoming involved in a power struggle and will persevere with it stubbornly, sometimes to their own advantage because parents and other adults get tired and eventually give in.
- Don’t like sudden changes and hate stopping an activity before they have reached their goal or finished it.
- Have an intense need for acknowledgement and being listened to.
- Have a strong sense of independence and are very responsible.
- Usually they are highly sensitive, creative and intelligent.
How will these characteristics help them in their future?
· Determination causes them to not throw in the towel easily, which is why as adults they will also persevere to reach their goals.
· Passion, enthusiasm and zeal let them commit themselves fully to everything they do (parenthood, career and hobbies).
· Their sense of what is right and wrong will let them fight for what is fair, such as helping friends who are being bullied. They will probably also choose a career where social justice is important.
· In their childhood their leadership qualities may offend because they haven’t yet developed social skills. As adults, when they have acquired skills such as communication and cooperation, they can do well as entrepreneurs and leaders in their community.
· Persistence that emanates from inner strength, will always help them to conquer any challenge, such as learning a new hobby, obtaining a degree or running a marathon. It leads them to being successful in everything they tackle.
· Their enthusiasm and energy can exhaust you when they are still small. However, as adults this can be channelled in a positive manner in a high-energy career. They will also be excellent motivational speakers.
Although you as parent may sometimes despair, focus on the positive. You are actually privileged to have been made custodian of such a special child. He or she will one day make a change in the world.
Also read the article: How to handle your strong-willed child.
Aha Parenting.com. https://www.ahaparenting.com/parenting-tools/positive-discipline/Parenting-Strong-Willed-Child
First Cry Parenting. https://parenting.firstcry.com/articles/strong-willed-child-parenting-tips-and-more/
Mom Junction. https://www.momjunction.com/articles/effective-ways-to-deal-with-stubborn-kids_0076976/#gref
Mom Junction. https://www.momjunction.com/articles/strong-willed-child_00424026/
Parents With Confidence. https://parentswithconfidence.com/strong-willed-child-characteristics/
Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/za/blog/creative-development/201301/the-highly-sensitive-and-stubborn-child
Understanding Compassion. https://understandingcompassion.com/articles/your-stubborn-child-might-just-turn-out-to-be-more-successful-and-wealthier-says-study/?fbclid=IwAR09jXHO7-4EA3EtUk8_jvjf5O2JJMPHb8DgBXedE3ImhuDUyY3aKwwZkjs