All parents begin the real parenting journey with the terrible two’s, but parents of strong willed children don’t just get the terrible two’s. No they progress to the threatening threes, frightening fours, fearsome fives, sickening six’s………until elated at eighteen. Let’s learn a little about the strong willed child, mainly for those that are new at this - or just need someone to point out what you have already become familiar with…
Common Characteristics of Strong Willed Children: (taken from a list I was given once, but with a few modifications)
1. They lust for power and independence. (This often becomes the main issue when conflicting with a strong willed child. The need for power/control.)
2. They consider rules to be more like guidelines.
3. They don’t do things just because “you’re supposed to”-it needs to matter personally.
4. They refuse to obey - they seem to always have a few terms of negotiation before complying.
5. They almost never accept words like “impossible” or phrases like ‘it can’t be done.”
6. They can turn what seems to be the smallest issue into a grand crusade or a raging controversy.
7. When they are bored, they would rather create a crisis than have a day go by without incident.
8. They can move with lightning speed from a warm loving presence, to a cold immovable force.
9. They show great creativity and resourcefulness - seems to always find a way to accomplish a goal.
10. They may argue the point into the ground, sometimes just to see how far into the ground the point will go.
11. They are not afraid to try the unknown; to conquer the unfamiliar; to take what was meant to be the simplest request and interpret it as an offensive ultimatum.
12.They may not actually apologize, but almost always makes things right. (This characteristic causes many parents to fear they have some sort of psycho-path on their hands. The real question becomes how long does it take for a strong willed child to take personal responsibility for their bad behavioral choices? In my experience 10 minutes to a few days depending on how tenacious everyone involved is.)
13.They often miss the point of discipline and encouragement due to lacking the skill of informational inference.
14.These kids make INCREDIBLE adults, very self motivated and less influenced by outside pressure. So hold on, the light at the end of the tunnel is NOT a train.
It is important to remember these are common characteristics of the strong willed child - they are really not out to get you, and they sometimes cannot control their innate response due to these characteristics. A strong willed child’s primary goal is determining who has the power, not to make you feel like an unloved parent.
So who can we blame?
As much as I believe this is the grandmother curse, (you know the one “I hope you have a kid just like yourself”,) we might want to look at the statistics: There are nearly three times as many strong willed children as compliant, so nearly every family with more than one child has a strong willed child; and males outnumber females by 5%. So if you don’t have a strong willed child yet stop having kids as your probability increases with off spring. In my experience strong-willed parents have a higher chance of having strong-willed kids, possibly due to God having a sense of humor (but that is unproven at this point). There is also a high correlation between SWC and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Also unproven is the strong suspicion I have that there is a brain/behavior connection here. Unfortunately I have yet to find the neurological link between brain function and personality traits, but keep in mind neuroscience is still a pretty young field. Do be encouraged that I am searching the research fiercely and will share my knowledge as soon as it is reported.