I want to thank the wise young mom who brought the question all parents of future leaders ask about our strong-willed children.
“I’m a mild-mannered person who has an extremely strong-willed children. How do I cope?”
You can spot it, even before they talk, as soon as they begin to communicate with fussing and stomping. Certain kids are just born to be influential.
The real question for those of us with a strong-willed children is how do we get them to adulthood without a stint in jail. Us, not them. Okay, I am kidding a little. But strong-willed children truly test our patience to the point of snapping.
One of my favorite people on the planet is a very successful professional woman with a resume a mile long. I can easily imagine her tender mother’s bewilderment at my friend’s stubbornness and determined spirit as a child.
My favorite thing about her now is the way she enjoys her children, laughing at their antics and clapping the loudest at their successes. I bet her mother wore herself out worrying about my friend as a child, and yet, what a blessing she grew up to be. A tried and true friend, a beloved wife, and one of the best, most devoted moms I’ve ever known. Almost magically, strong-willed, independent thinkers grow up to be the ones who are visionary, determined leaders. If you are parenting a strong-willed child, here’s some encouragement for a positive perspective.
#1 Recognize determination. Stubbornness in a childish person becomes determination and perseverance in a mature adult. The same small kid who complained and challenged each of our decisions becomes the independent thinker. Independent thinkers grow up to create solutions while all the other adults in the room are scratching our heads.
#2 Value your approach. Likewise, never underestimate the power of a mild-mannered approach to life. Like my friend’s mom, you are instilling strengths into your child’s heart, not just her will. Strong-willed children will not be successful in life unless they learn to tone down their intensity. Your gentle, consistent, and relaxed coaching is another tool in their leadership toolbox.
#3 Laugh a lot. Humor, too, is a gift we want to share with the future leaders in our homes. Strong-willed children come with a treasure trove of hilarious stories along the way about their audacity!
#4 Stand strong. Remember, when our children stand against us, they are learning to stand alone, even as we gently and consistently rein them in. Even as we laugh along with their antics.
Stubbornness transforms into loyalty and faithfulness as humans mature. With your devoted and gentle coaching, your strong-willed child will grow up to be a leader who is loyal and faithful.
Cathy Primer Krafve, aka Checklist Charlie, lives and writes with a Texas twang. Comments are invited at cathykrafve.com.