Strong willed children are great one to one in no stress times...they have the attention and the control. But see them in the morning routine, yelling, having a tantrum, not wanting to wear something or trying to fix their hair! Look out! Only a parent who has a strong willed child can relate to this scenario. If you relate to this, here are some tips for you...
1. When your child is already upset, telling them what to do will only increase this emotion. They WILL fight you! What and take to them later.
2. Kids want to be heard and understood so if you let them know that you hear and understand (not give in) this will decrease the emotional temperature or outburst. This is called Active Listening. You repeat back what you hear them saying in your own words while adding a feeling to help them feel that you "get it".
3. They are very bright and can out smart you. They generally have an answer and know how to put you in your place. Use this to your advantage. Ask them what they can do about their problem. Again, this gives them control and empowers them to solve their problem.
4. Allow them to help with the routine. If they help, they'll be more likely to follow through...it's their idea.
5. This type of personality has many emotions and they struggle with what to do with them. Together brainstorm ideas of how to express their feelings. Give some suggestions like: scream in a pillow, punch a pillow or get a punching bag, draw pictures, and older children can journal or use an app like "Mood Log" which will help identify a feeling and help track feelings. It's a great tool!
6. And lastly, important reminder...when you get upset, it increases their upset. Staying calm in the moment and discussing it after, is your best bet...in the No Problem area.
These ideas come from P.E.T. by Dr. Thomas Gordon. There are classes offered all over the world. Find a class by you at http://www.gordontraining.com/parent-programs/p-e-t-workshops-for-parents/#
I'll be starting a support group for parents of strong willed children. If you're interested, please email me at email@example.com
There is a balance between hovering and being unavailable.
This is what your teen needs.
Why do you helicopter?
Parents have their own feelings that may get in the way of how they respond to their child.
Hearing other moms’ talk can cause anxiety that you are not doing enough.
The social pressures of peers and college expectations or life success.
Fear of childs’ low self esteem-”they can’t do it”.
A scary world mentality- the world seems like an unsafe place.
Preventing failures- we don’t want our kids to fall.
Prevent our kids from feeling like we did or making mistakes that we made. Overcompensating.
Guilt- we may work too much, divorce situation, etc.
Consequences of helicoptering
Not having a resilient child- they don’t have experience in handling problems themselves.
Teen/child will have a high level of worry, anxiety and depression.
Low self esteem because the underlying message we send is “You can’t do it”.
Low level of confidence due to lack of personal successes.
Fear of the future because they also see the world as an unsafe place.
Undeveloped coping and problem solving skills.
Entitlement attitude that others must do for them as well.
What to do...The Balance
Submarine Parenting- being there when needed or it’s asked for.
Teach and guide and then step out of the way.
Offer problem solving skills but not solving the problem.
Our teenagers will wobble, they will trip, they will fall, and they will, finally, fly if we let them!
A mother comes to me at the end of her rope “I’ve tried everything and my daughter argues with me. She doesn't seem to like the word “no” ! I’ve heard this over and over recently. These strong-willed (Indigo) children are popping up frequently. “I say “These kids will be extremely successful adults with this determination.” They are the ones that know what they want and will argue for it until they wear their parents out and get it in the end. They are also very emotional and seem to have a short fuse and “lose it”~ 0-100 in seconds. Parents get exasperated!!!
These are the signs of these strong-willed children (they will have 6 or more) :
They feel different
Show signs of ADD
Need to know “Why”
Rebellious to authority
Trouble with their rage
Become easily frustrated
Trouble focusing on one thing
Love nature, plants and/or animals
“What can help?”, you ask. Well, these children do not respond to an authoritarian approach…this just puts them in fight mode. They also do not do well without boundaries, with a permissive parent. I once saw a young boy in my practice who was 8. He lived with his mom and his grandma. He was full of rage and did whatever he wanted in the house regardless of what was asked of him. When I took him in the play room, during a game of checkers, I asked him what he’d like to change at home. He said, “I want rules.” That was not what I expected. Together I worked with mom, grandma and the boy and we came up with a schedule and some chores that they all agreed upon. He responded well. This model is the win-win approach that Parent Effectiveness Training uses. I’ve been teaching P.E.T. for 25 years and I’m continually amazed by the responsiveness of the children and the gratitude parents have from learning these simple tools.
A P.E.T. class will be starting this fall, October 20, 2017 from 9:15am-12:00pm specifically for “Parents of Strong Willed Children.” This is an 8 week class. Call for more information (818) 991-8282. Coming soon~ a group for these children to learn coping skills.
by Stephanie R. Bien