Parenting Tips - Connecting With The Strong Willed Child

Children are born with their own distinct personalities that we need to know...
Children are born with their own distinct personalities that we need to know... | Source
Parenting is not for the fearful or fainthearted.
Parenting is not for the fearful or fainthearted. | Source

Bringing up a strong willed child

The Strong Willed Child, labeled so by Dr James Dobson, is one child we would all like to know better but wish we did not have to deal with. I am certain almost everyone of us have had to deal with such a child at one time or another.

Just, Who Is This Strong Willed Child?

This is a child who is self defined from the moment they enter the world. The first few months of their lives are probably the only ones in which they are subject to the will of others. When they turn a year, they begin to redefine themselves according to the guidance of their own hearts. They will show everyone around just how they want things done and jokingly defy instruction. As as a tease, they will get away with many things before you realize as the child turns three that they are merely stubborn in old fashioned terms, but strong willed according to today's more acceptable terminology.

The strong-willed toddler may range from the extreme of one who demands to have his way in just about anything, reek havoc when their needs are not met to the subtle types who will smack their friends just to control them when older people are not looking. Their search for control and to have their own way has started as an early crusade in those tender years. For the more subtle strong willed one, it is difficult for busy parents to notice and for the well meaning ones to accept their child is any different at all, they could even get away with it for many years. Normally, all you hear are reports from family or friends about the inability to comply where other compliant children do.

As the years pile on and children get into adolescence, their personalities become even clearer especially in those early teenage years when we are all looking for self-identity. The strong willed child who has received good teaching, parenting and direction rarely struggles to find themselves. Self-motivated and confident in themselves, they hardly suffer from the effects of peer pressure except the need to be in control.

If you are the parent of such a child, their childishness will wane to be replaced by the self-will of a teenager. Your child's disposition might change might change but their will, will not become less strong because of age. It will probably become stronger and more defined. So, do you brace yourself for the worst years of your life? Well, not really, not, if you are ready to invest yourself in your child and make the best of these years.

By nature, strong willed children can be sweet from one moment and turn into monsters the next, one rarely feels safe with them. And if you are an insightful parent or guardian, you are probably aware that these are kids are capable of being saboteurs just to prove their point, get even or get attention. Welcome and take a seat, you are not alone tasked with the responsibility of shaping the future of our world by directing the course of these difficult children who have the characteristics and potential of being future leaders.

Congratulations Mom, Dad or Guardian!

You have been picked to train a future leader in the name of an unpleasant strong willed child you would rather not deal with. If you knew from the outset this is the work you have, it would probably forever change how you look at that threat in your hallway!

There are plenty of resources online and in books especially one in particular written by Dr James Dobson "The Strong Willed Child" that you could read for more depth. My aim in writing this hub is to give you quick tips for parenting this child which are a direct injection because they serve a double purpose; one is to show you some of your child's most profound characteristics or strengths and two is to see how you can work with them to turn around your relationship and prepare that child for responsible adulthood and a more enjoyable youth.

Characteristics of the Strong Willed Child


This child is motivated from the inside, they do not need to be pushed to perform. Once they understand what is needed of them, they want you out of the way quickly so that they can remain to make their own mistakes and correct them. The strong willed child will find a way of getting around most problems and loves to work in solitude to produce desired results.

Based on this characteristic, give your child the resources they need to achieve what they set out to do, you will be surprised how well thought out most of their ventures and activities are. If you develop healthy lines of communication, other than wanting to control you, this child will look at you as a necessary party to their success. Your task will be even better is you seek to encourage and support than to try to break the will. Remember, broken things are hard to mend and they do not work so well. I do not think it is any different with the will if it gets broken. Rather look at it as redirecting.

I am sharing these tips in no particular order.


The strong willed child loves to create and find a lot of pride in producing original things. An opportunity, the material and place to create from becomes a necessity. Besides this, respect and genuine admiration will motivate this child to even greater and far better ventures. If you do not provide the materials or environment for innovating, this child will create and innovate using materials or things that they may not otherwise be allowed to use. Their creativity demands to be released and they should be given the chance to do so. Do not muzzle or restrain them, simply provide a conducive environment, advice, direction and a lot of admiration.


It is to the credit of the strong willed child that they rarely veer from the goal once their minds are set. In the formative years, your strong willed child will look up to you without really meaning to, to help maintain this focus by building a trusting relationship that shows a healthy interest in what they do. Whether it is school work, community, church or any other task, the strong willed child will maintain their focus and run further if they know someone is watching, interested and rooting for them as they go. In spite of their ability to focus on tasks, the lure to achieve can easily distract this child, so your help to stay focused on what matters is very essential. They might fight you, but remember that respect for one another and an understanding of what is going on will help a lot.


With an ability to process enormous amounts of information because of their solid stable personality, the strong willed child finds joy in challenges in just about any field of their choice. This child is capable of processing amazing amounts of information, analyzing and applying them at a rate that only one who is turned off to other distractions from around them is capable of doing. Provide a conducive environment and atmosphere for them to work in. They may be very interested in literature, maths, the sciences, music or any other area of their choice, help them to exercise their brain muscle knowing what they are good at and urging them gently in that direction.

The strong willed child is capable of turning you off completely just to exasperate you if they perceive you are trying to influence their choices against their will. We all understand that children need help to make decisions, this is one child who thinks they do not need your help. As a parent you have to be persistent and explain in clear and understandable terms why the child needs to pursue a particular route according to your wisdom. You may not always agree, but when it really matters, as a parent you must be resolute. Even if they may be antagonistic, the strong willed child is normally very capable of making solid decisions and understanding as long as they are provided with information that they can relate to and act on personally.


Gifted with a higher sense of direction, the strong willed child has definite leadership qualities in the raw, waiting to be cultivated. As a parent or guardian, give this child an opportunity to exercise that leadership by making it possible for them to develop their leadership skills both at home or wherever else they find themselves. They may be shy, but it is your responsibility to recommend them for tasks where they will develop their leadership skills or grow them. Give them plenty of opportunity within your relationships and at home to exercise their leadership ability. They will not become leaders when they are grown, they are becoming leaders each day they are growing up.

Have you seen children at play? Normally, there will be the child who is in charge of the team and making decisions on behalf of the others or simply providing needed guidance to the rest of the team each time they have activities. Every group needs a leader explicitly or implicitly, normally the leader just arises without being asked to resume the responsibilities that no one else may be taking care of.


Sensitivity to others or the environment is a natural given for the strong willed child. Because of this, they are able to respond to situations faster than other people who seek to comply and adjust to the status quo. Be very careful what you do to yourself, your partner or the community around you because each moment you are sending a message to your strong willed child on how life ought to be or is done in whatever circumstances you find yourself. There is therefore no better way of teaching the strong willed child than by the way you live.

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Comments 15 comments

donnaisabella profile image

donnaisabella 2 years ago from Fort Myers Author

Hi Jill, thanks for the feedback. I am so glad that this article resonated with you. I am happy I could share. I look forward to reading your hubs as well.

Jill Deibel 2 years ago

Thank you for this great Hub! I've also written two hubs so far about the strong-willed child because I have one of my own. Some days, I get SO EXASPERATED. I know we're raising a leader, but like you said, they are in the "raw" state and need their abilities redirected to the right path. Your Hub greatly encouraged me to continue persevering on the difficult days because our daughter is all that you said: self-motivated, creative, focused, smart, and a leader. I love how you highlighted the positives of the strong-willed character rather than paint them as monsters (that they might appear to be to others who've never tried raising a strong-willed child). You definitely have great insight and understanding to the dynamics of it all!

B. Leekley profile image

B. Leekley 3 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

Up, Useful, and Interesting. I'll read the book you mentioned sometime.

Ever sense I read them decades ago, I've admired the books SUMMERHill and FREEDOM NOT LICENSE and their author A. S. Neill. He designed his private school Summerhill to encourage children to be both self-motivated and considerate of others.

Are strong willed children born or made?

donnaisabella profile image

donnaisabella 4 years ago from Fort Myers Author

Hi Thumbi, that face in the picture just brings me so much joy! Actually it is not physical strength as much as it is the strength of resolve. Thanks for coming by.

donnaisabella profile image

donnaisabella 4 years ago from Fort Myers Author

Yes Hyphen, with great care and the watchful eye of the father, they sure can change the world for God's kingdom. My strong willed one is prone to transgress but she has a zeal for the things of God that is unmatched for a girl her age. Thanks for coming by and for the input, most appreciated.

donnaisabella profile image

donnaisabella 4 years ago from Fort Myers Author

TELLING them surely does not work so well, a lot of attitude there! Thanks for the feedback Simone.

donnaisabella profile image

donnaisabella 4 years ago from Fort Myers Author

Hey Brittany, thanks for coming by. I have been practicing this with my not so passive daughter! So far so good, I wish you the best with your daughter, the future leader!

Brittany Daniel profile image

Brittany Daniel 4 years ago from Cary, NC

This is so great! I have a strong-willed daughter, which is emphasized by the passivity of her sister. I struggle with finding ways to encourage the positive aspects of her nature while keeping her from being unpleasantly bossy. This is great advice. Thank you!

Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 4 years ago from San Francisco

To me, your last sentence says it all. Leading by example is the a great way to parent strong-willed kids, since TELLING them what to do isn't always going to make that much of a difference, hehee!

Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 4 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

This is a great description of the strong willed child. My son is very strong willed and loves to direct the actions of others, even in play. He is amazingly bright and goodhearted though. As you said, raised in a good, loving home a strong willed child can become a great adult. I believe they can change the world for God's kingdom plan.

thumbi7 profile image

thumbi7 4 years ago from India

Very interesting read!

I did not know that such a category exist.

Are they physicaly different? I mean physically stronger than the other children?

donnaisabella profile image

donnaisabella 4 years ago from Fort Myers Author

Thanks for reading Tammy, it is good to see you. I can see the VERY in your girl's strong will, I have a daughter like that so this is daily experience for me and I only pray that I will be a better person after I am done with the teenage years.

tammyswallow profile image

tammyswallow 4 years ago from North Carolina

Great hub. I raised three sons and I thought that was tough. Later in life I had a baby girl who is VERY strong willed. It is a very different experience. My goal is to take these qualities and hone them for something good. Thanks for writing this. It is interesting and helpful.

donnaisabella profile image

donnaisabella 4 years ago from Fort Myers Author

Hey Michele, thanks for coming by and for the feedback. I should make sure to watch that. To tell you the truth, I have been there and done some of those things and they do seem like the most logical thing to do in the moment. I am have been learning differently and I pray I keep listening to my own advice and those of others whom I learned from. Thanks once again for everything.

Michele Travis profile image

Michele Travis 4 years ago from U.S.A. Ohio

This is a fantastic hub. I just watched a Dr. Phil show this morning about parents who had children who they could not control. In the show, they taped the interactions of the parents and children. They were not at all like what you have in your hub. The parents screamed at their children, slapped, cursed, called them names and many other things. Have not seen the second half of the show yet, which will be on next week.

Your hub is wonderful. It shows people a lot of things they can do with their children, when their children are strong willed.

Wonderful hub, Voted you up!

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