Dealing with a Strong Willed Child – (Part 2)

Side view of Tiger girl
Side view of Tiger girl

In the 1st part of this 2 part post I shared the triads of my strong -willed child, Tiger girl. She is a child which really challenges me on a daily basis with her wit.

It is really amazing that a 3 year old  can be so certain about what she wants and really can wear your patience ultra thin.

Kids this age flare up  and tear easily when they don’t get what they want. It is very important to address this errant behavior at this stage or else it will get more difficult as they grow up.

It has taken many trials and errors before I’ve learned how to deal with her and minimize the amount of  conflict that she has with me.   Here are  two things I have learned so far.

1. Speak calmly and model desired behavior.

An Example of modeling the behavior you wish your child to display.

‘ I WANT that drink!!’ she would shout.

” I cannot hear you” I would tell her. ” You are shouting. If you are speaking nicely in a nice tone I maybe able to hear you better”.

” Can you say – Can I have the drink please?”  (This is repeated if there is no response from her or she still continues shouting)

She doesn’t not get the drink if she doesn’t ask properly and this is something that I have to be insistent on if she is to learn about proper etiquette.

After a few times Tiger girl would “get the idea” as she realize that shouting gets her nowhere.  She’s one smart cookie as these few days  it takes less then a minute for her to model the correct behavior so that she is able to get what she wants.

2.  It takes skill to play the waiting game.

When Tiger girl throws a tantrum and refuses to walk I will tell her that she has two choices either to walk or she can stay at where she currently is but don’t expect me to wait for her.

I make it clear to her that her current behavior is not acceptable and the reason why she is not getting the item (Ie: Ice- cream / soft toy etc).  I do offer her suggestions or alternatives to her initial request as I reason with her.

Sometimes she does start asking for alternative demands when her initial demand is not met.  She may or may not get her alternative request depending on how realistic they are.

Most of the time kids this age can be reason with. You just have to be a bit more patient and spend the extra 5 -10 minutes cajoling them.  They may not understand your intentions the first time around however after repeatedly testing you under similar circumstance they will start to realize that tantrums don’t work on you and cease doing it.

If we are at home and she starts throwing tantrums I will just walk away  and let her scream and shout after explaining to her that her behavior is not acceptable. She can go on for an hour and sometimes cry until she falls asleep.

As long as they are not in any physical danger I feel that it is all right to let them cry it out.  You have to stay firm and even harden your heart to their pitiful cries but it is something that has to be done to be able to “tame” them.

Tiger girl’s outburst have reduced a lot since I’ve adopted this method of addressing her tantrums. I’m not affected by her mood swings and the day is not spoiled for the both of us.

In the next post I will be doing a follow up on how Positive Affirmations have been working on Monkey boy and how Doggie boy has been faring in his  studies so far.

Post in this series

– Parenting with Less Stress ( An Introduction)

– Teaching Kids about coping with the fear of Failure (Part 1)

– Teaching Kids about coping with the fear of Failure (Part 2)

– Encouraging a Struggling Learner (Part 1)

– Encouraging a Struggling Learner (Part 2)

-Dealing with a Strong Willed Child (Part 1)

– Dealing with a Strong Willed Child( Part 2)

– An Update on Monkey Boy


15 thoughts on “Dealing with a Strong Willed Child – (Part 2)”

  1. I need to remind my boys to say please and thank you everytime. They don’t say it automatically 🙁

    I have the same tantrum problem with my junior. However, it is very difficult for me to let him cry out long with my parents interfering.

    If not for his bad temper and strong willed, he is quite a good boy

  2. I wish I would have been a little more on the ball with the yelling…sadly our whole family will yell from room to room not mad–just to lazy to move from room to room.
    The temper tantrum technique is the same I used too—I did walk away from my daughter once in a store she cried for about 30 seconds more as I walked away—I was in the freezer section and could still see her in the glass reflection— there was one other person in the section too I could tell in their face they had been there before…you are so right about how tough the little childs will can be—I’m always reminded of something I herd my grandfather say. “It’s easier to bend the branch if a small sapling then a mighty oak! It’s the same with children.”

  3. Hmm.. what does one do with a strong willed child when we\’re out? Joy is sweet like sugar but when she throws her tantrums, I stick to being firm but feel like all my energy has been drained without me doing anything.

    1. It is difficult to leave them alone when they are throwing tantrums outside due to safety factors but I do reason with them.. and if really have to carry them away to a safer place -ie the car where they get their timeout. It can get really tiring but it is worth hanging in there for both the child and yourself.

  4. Great tips, I know that we try to make sure that my son knows what is acceptable and what isn’t acceptable behavior. I try to give him options to choose from when there are opportunities for negotiation so that I am not always telling him “no”. The only time he doesn’t have options is when there aren’t any safe options or solutions to the problem.

  5. Good point about not letting their moods affect us (as much as possible, heh), otherwise it becomes a vicious cycle! Sounds like you’re doing a great job!

  6. it’s hard to go out with spirited kids. we’re very lucky to be living in Asia where the culture is family- and kid-friendly. the difference back home in people’s attitudes towards us (when they see toddlers in tow) on the airlines, in the streets, in restaurants is incredible. some places even ban children! our strong-willed child dropped to the ground in NYC’s Central Park and screamed for a solid two hours upon waking from his nap and nothing we could do or say helped. he’d pitch a fit if we poured too much juice into his cup – pouring out the rest doesn’t help.. it was a nightmare. here in Asia in those same situations my stress levels wouldn’t rise as much because passersby would understand, or come by with toys or candy or something to help me by trying to distract him.

  7. Ah, parenting a three year old can be a challenge. I have walked away from one or the other of my children many times as they were throwing a fit. It really helps both of you because then they learn how to settle themselves down and you don’t do something you will regret later.

  8. Good tips. When my daughter was this age, I used the “walk away” technique which was very effective with her. She was also a strong-willed child, but by being consistent, she has grown out of that and is now (at age 8) a very sweet and (mostly) compliant child.

  9. It is amazing how much energy and patience it takes to parent a strong willed child. Sounds like you are doing a great job. Keep up the good work.

  10. Yes, having a strong-willed child is really trying! I remember I used to be mad when my son doesn’t obey. Then, later I realized, we really just need to stretch our patience plus, talk to them and explain to them more.

  11. This made me think that I am wrong with my attitude to my son. whenever he shouted, I will shout on him also and easily gets mad. Thanks for this advice. Starting today, I will try to apply these tips.

    1. @Allan,
      I’ve learned that shouting doesn’t help and it only shows him the wrong notion that who that shouts louder or is more intimidating wins. Although there are times where I really wish to shout back at them I try my best to hold my tongue.

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