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Battling the Beasties: How to Win Battles with Your Strong Willed Child

Updated on July 29, 2015
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Mom. Homeschooler. Mystery shopper. Editor. Wife. These are a few words to describe notyouraverageal. Her life is anything but average.

You'd Better Win!

Parents of strong willed kids will quickly find the best way to avoid problems is to not battle in the first place. It's important to choose your battles wisely, otherwise, you will spend your life upset and frustrated with your little beastie. Make a decision that you will only fight battles that are important. If the child will be injured, endangered or negatively impacted, then by all means, fight the battle. Otherwise, just let it go.

When you battle with your strong willed child, though, you'd better win. Otherwise, every battle will become harder and harder. Once they figure out how to win, they won't give up without a fight!

How can you always win your battles? Try these tips:

If You Say It, You'd Better Mean It!

Don’t make idle threats. I hear threats like these all the time, and I’m sure you do too.

“If you do that again, I am canceling your birthday party.” (You mean the one you’ve already sent out invitations for and bought all the supplies for? Yeah. I bet you will.)

“If you do that again, I’m going to call off the whole summer. We won’t leave the house again until school starts back.” (Really? Because that means you’ll be trapped inside with this lovely child for the next two months. Sure. You’re going to punish yourself like that.)

“If you don’t come over here right now, I’m going to spank you. I mean it. Right now……… Come over here. I’m going to spank you. I mean it! Come over here. Right now. This is your last chance. I mean it. IF you don’t come over here now, I will spank you. This is your last chance. I mean it.” (Do you? Do you really mean it?)

Beasties aren’t dumb. They know you don’t mean it, and they will call your bluff every time.

If you say it, do it!

If you say you’ll take the toy away, do it. Don’t keep saying it. If you say you will ground him, do it. You have to, or you lose all credibility. Think about the threats you make before you make them, because once you say it, you have to do it.

I don’t think I’ve ever been angrier at my husband than the time he threatened to take away TV for 2 weeks from my son. Of course, my son called his bluff, so my husband had to follow through. Then, I was left at home with the bored child who wasn’t allowed to watch TV. Those were the longest 2 weeks of my life.

Do Not Get Emotional!

Do not get emotional.

When a battle starts, it is very important to keep a level head. This is a tough one, because beasties are champion button pushers. However, you have to set your mind to the fact that you will not yell. You will not scream. You will not cry. You are the parent, and by golly, you will show him or her who is in charge. This one takes practice, but if you can learn to speak and follow through without emotion, you will see big results.

Remind Your Beastie That You Will Win.

From the time my first beastie was old enough to battle, I would tell him, “I don’t want to fight you on this, but if we battle, I will win.” Then, I made sure I won. Then, once the battle was over, I would tell him that I had won. I did not do this to be spiteful or to make him feel bad. I did it to remind him that I was in charge. Over time, what I found was, he battled me less and less, once he knew I would always win. By the time he was 6 years old, he typically did not battle me. Instead, he would start to argue or fight me, and I would say, “Who’s going to win?” He would typically back down. Now, at age 18, he still answers, “You will,” if I ask him that question. It was an effective method, but it only worked because I always won.

Does This Look Familiar?

It Takes Time.

I can't promise you your little beastie will stop throwing temper tantrums next week. I can't promise you it will ever truly end. My 14 year old still shows us an occasional fit. However, I can tell you, if you will be firm and consistent and follow these tips, the tantrums will become less frequent and less severe. Over time, if your child knows you will only battle if you mean it and if you battle, you will win, she will back down faster.

Just remember that strong will equals strong personality. Eventually, the same personality traits that are making you crazy will be the ones to make your beastie become an independent thinker. Hang in there, mama or daddy. You can do this!


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