I get calls sometimes where parents are having a hard time parenting their “spirited” child. What is a spirited child? Spirited or strong-willed is sometimes parents’ code for difficult or stubborn children. Some parents even view their spirited child from a religious framework and believe their child is filled with the wrong type of spirit. Many parents I hear from are just dealing with the normal behaviors of children. Parenting children can be difficult, especially during the ages of 2 to 3 when children are going through the critical task of asserting their independence. “I can do it” is their motto interspersed with “Help!” Our job is to help them become independent through our support.
If you are gifted with the uniquely strong willed child, consider it a blessing, according to Dr. Laura Markham, Parenting Your Strong-Willed Child.
Strong-willed children turn into terrific leaders. When their wills are not squashed, they grow in to adults with strong moral compasses and a keen sense of morality. They are the types of children who will not follow the crowd but what they are raised to know as right and wrong.
Handling strong-willed children kindly and teaching them the skills to negotiate is critical. Challenging and persistent, these children will make excellent advocates and cooperators as adults The challenge for parents is to re-frame they way they see and enjoy their strong-willed or spirited child. It is not our jobs as parents to crush anyone’s will, let alone the will of the children we are trusted to love and care for. Value the best of your child and your child will grow up to learn that he or she is perfect just the way they are, with gifts of their own and skills you have taught them along the way.