Parenting the Strong Willed Child

She is fire and ice; my light and my world. She is the spitting image of me; tough, strong, and bull headed. It has not been a smooth ride with this child. She is a strong willed child, who likes to push her boundaries. Parenting a child with a strong will, will never be easy. We butt heads on a daily basis, but I have learned there are ways to get through to her. It takes a special kind of patience, one I had to work on, to healthily parent the strong willed child.

Parenting the strong willed child | Advice | Tips | Discipline | Love | Parenting |


Parenting the Strong Willed Child

My daughter is as stubborn and strong willed as they come. When she does not not get her way it can become a nuclear meltdown. I had to learn how to best parent her. It was a process, and I am still learning. So many things did not work, but I have found different ways that do. What you must remember is that each child is an individual. What works for one may not work for another, so take all “parenting advice” with a grain of salt. Tweak it to your preferences and make something that works for you.



I grew up with parents who implemented spanking. It did not happen often, but when it did I remembered it. For me, spanking seemed to work, so when I had a child that is what I though would work for her too. Boy, was I wrong. Spanking my strong willed child only escalated the situation. It would make her shut down, as opposed to straighten up. I ended up in an endless cycle that wasn’t working for us, so I gave up spanking all together.

Taking Away Toys

I would go into my daughter’s room and literally take ALL  of her things out of her room. She would be upset for a while, but it didn’t phase her for long. This strong willed little girl would just entertain herself in other ways. She is great at just sitting in her bed and talking to herself. Taking away her toys does work for a short period of time. She works to earn them back, but will revert right back to bad habits. While this isn’t a perfect method, it does have temporary positive effects. The trick it, the toys have to be put away somewhere the child can’t see them. If she sees the box in my room, she knows she will get them back eventually. The best way I have found is to put it all in trash backs and hide them in the garage.

Time Out

This seems to be the best method for MY strong willed little princess. She will kick and moan, but when given a chance to calm down quietly, the attitude improves. Once she is calm, I will get down on her level and talk to her. Not yell, talk. While she may be young, there are a lot of things that she does understand. I will have her try to explain WHY she was throwing a fit. Then I explain why she can’t do what she did, and tell her the acceptable alternatives to her actions.

Chore Chart

Chore charts have been hit or miss at my house. Some weeks they work great, and some weeks she couldn’t care any less about earning stickers. I keep trying though. This is a way for her to learn that her actions have consequences. When she does a chore or has a good day, she gets a sticker. Enough stickers and she can get a “prize” of her choice. Usually a dollar tree toy or a trip out for ice cream. When she does not complete her chores or has a bad day, she can lose a sticker and she knows that will set her back from her ultimate goal. It isn’t a perfect system, but over time it has been working more and more.




Yelling does not work with a strong willed child. I wouldn’t advocate yelling at ANY child, but none of us are perfect and it happens. Yelling only makes the situation worse. My daughter would yell back and try to be even louder and it would probably become a loud, viscous cycle.

Calm Conversation

I save this for AFTER both my daughter and I have calmed down. I will come down to her level and talk with her. One thing I have found to be important is to have her tell me WHY she did something. Then I will explain to her why her actions were wrong and what she can do differently next time. This seems to work extremely well for us. She feels like she has a say so and I don’t lose my temper. You may find yourself having the same conversations multiple times, but they will eventually get it.

Give Them Choices

Something that I have found works exceedingly well is to give my daughter choices. Now, children don’t need too many choices but two or three options seems to work best. I will let her pick from two lunch options, or two drink options. This lets her feel independent, but she isn’t overwhelmed with too many options at once. She knows those are the choices, and the only choices, there is no “other” option.

Show Them Love

This may seem like a given, but the strong willed child needs to be shown affection often. All children need affection, but I feel when a child is strong willed and stubborn, they start to feel like they are only ever getting in trouble. They need to know that they are loved even though they might need to be reprimanded more often. Strong willed children should know that you love them always, and your punishments are not to be “mean” but to teach them valuable lessons.

Parenting | Strong Willed Child | Discipline | Communication | Love|

Parenting a strong willed child takes patience and a lot of love. They can be needy, clingy, stubborn, and wild, but they are children who need love and guidance. These children need to learn their limits and experience downfalls. They will love fiercely and act out like crazy. I believe strong willed children are special. They may be difficult to handle at times, but with the right love and guidance, they will grow up to be the leaders of tomorrow.


  1. robin rue says:

    I don’t agree with spanking. I was spanked as a child and I have no idea how a parent could hit their kids. It DOESN’T work.

  2. Lauren says:

    I think an important thing parents who have a strong willed child should keep in mind is that this phase of parenting is just a phase. I’m not saying the child will grow out of being strong willed. But I do want to offer parents hope if they feel like they just cannot deal with it for one more minute. As parents, it’s important for us to take care of ourselves as much as it is for us to care for our kids. Especially if you have strong willed children, make it a point to give yourself a break every now and again.

  3. Janel Berchielli (@JanelB) says:

    I completely agree with you and I have a strong will child too. When I was in college I actually wrote a paper on why people should not spank their children. I didn’t get a lot of people to agree with me back then but I am glad that less people spank their children now as compared to older times.

  4. Kait says:

    Children aren’t in the plans for us, but I liked your take on circumnavigating what others might deem impossible! I’m glad you have found a way that works best for you 🙂

  5. Kristina says:

    I do time outs and taking items away right now. I have thought about spankings. I was spanked as a child with a belt about 2 times and after the second and seeing how serious my dad was I never acted out again.

  6. Jeanine says:

    A lot of my kids are strong willed. Like, VERY strong willed. These are really great tips. I do pretty much all of it. Taking things away seems to be the most effective right now!

  7. Terri Steffes says:

    I was a strong willed child. Spanking did work for me. Mainly because I was not the one in control. That doesn’t make it right. My dad later told me that he was glad I had a strong will, no daughter of his was going to be pushed around.

  8. Amanda Love says:

    I love this. It’s a little difficult because you want them to be strong willed, somehow. They can really use it in life. I think these are great tips for parents!

  9. Ana De-Jesus says:

    I was one of these strong willed children and your right showing love does help. I felt like I was always getting told off so showing a child you still love them is very important x

  10. Tereza says:

    As someone who doesn’t have children I find all your articles ever so interesting! They are all things I’ve never even thought existed – it totally makes sense though that children have different personalities which need to be catered for in a different way. Great article as usual! x

  11. Melissa says:

    All children need discipline in some way and I see you have tried a few different methods with varying success. I think the most important thing to change bad behavior is to follow through with punishment. I tend to cave in at times and my kids know me too well.

  12. Cindy Ingalls says:

    Time out can be a great tool but it doesn’t work for all children. I’ve noticed a new trend which requires kids to earn privileges back when they do something wrong. I think it makes them realize there are consequences for our actions. If you misbehave you don’t get to play with you games or have your favorite toy.

  13. Dawn McAlexander says:

    I just watched an episode of Dr. Phil where this guy was yelling and screaming at his stepdaughter. Dr. Phil put him in his place and told him he needed to calm it down and talk rationally to get the results he was looking for. I thought that was pertinent to your post.

  14. reesann723 says:

    My daughter just turned 6 and is still very strong willed. A big thing for me has been to just stay calm and be rational. The worst I get, it makes her crazier.

    • Jessi says:

      For sure! Every time she gets her little attitude though, I see myself in her because I was the same way lol can my mom lift that karma curse now hahaha

  15. Yasmin Ali says:

    These tips are so interesting from your perspective. Especially the spanking one! I didn’t expect that she would “shut down” but that’s interesting to see its not for all!

    • Jessi says:

      Yea, each kid is an individual…so what works for one might not for another… It’s just a matter of finding what works

  16. Heather says:

    It is definitely a challenge. My kids are all strong willed…I think they got it from me unfortunately. They all respond much better to positive reinforcement than me flying off the handle…so being calm and coming back to talk is a good option for me!

  17. CourtneyLynne says:

    Great suggestions!!!! With my child talking things out usually ends up being the best method. My hubby has a temper and will yell and 9 times out of 10 yelling does absolutely nothing. Talking calmly about what the bad issue was followed by a time out is my prefered route

  18. Renee @ The Good Hearted Woman says:

    I can so relate to this post! Like me, two of my five daughters were what could be termed “strong willed,” although I preferred the phrase “spirited child” when they were growing up. It isn’t always easy, but ironically, so many of the traits we struggle with in our children when they are small are precisely the ones we might hope for them as adults – tenacity, confidence, passion, intensity, and dedication are a few that immediately come to mind.

  19. Brittany Fryman says:

    When I was young, my mom took me to the doctor, and he recommended that she read a book named, “Parenting the Strong-willed Child.” Now I am in the same boat as you with a four-year-old who is stubborn and strong willed. I use a lot of these methods, but there are several I need to try. Thanks for sharing.

  20. Sarah says:

    I love the chore chart idea, we are definitely getting ready to implement one for my oldest son. I can’t wait to have some help!

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