Behaviour & Emotions

Got a strong-willed kid? This one’s for you.

Strong willed kid this ones for you

Some kids are strong-willed, stroppy kids – if you’ve got one, you will know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t – then be very grateful. If you have a strong-willed child, be optimistic! Tricky kids often turn out just fine. They have fantastic energy and leadership potential – what parents need to do is not stomp on that powerful nature – their energy just needs to be steered in the right direction.

Celebrate the small wins

A key point is tricky kids can wear you down! Remember, parenting is a marathon, not a sprint, so manage your energy wisely. You have a lot of work ahead of you but you don’t have to do it all at once. Pick just one behaviour you would like to promote and encourage, and one behaviour you would like to reduce. Rejoice in your small gains in a few areas – over time they will accumulate.

Cool down and try again when normal brain services are restored.

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Take care of yourself

And you need self-maintenance to go the distance. Get enough sleep, simplify your world, have some fun, don’t feel bad about your child going on holiday with relatives or to camps so you can have a break, and look after your relationship with your partner.

Don’t talk when they can’t hear you

One more tip – it’s lovely to talk to your child but don’t do it when they’ve stopped hearing you. During an angry conflict, much of a child’s mental activity is taking place in the basement of the brain – the brain stem and amygdala. That part of the brain is fantastic for frantic battles – quick and reflexive – but it is very unsuitable for cool, reasonable and discussion. If your child is worked up and sparks are flying off him, they can’t hear your logical, clear advice.

Save your breath and energy – your reasonable, wise words are being addressed to a part of his brain that isn’t even switched on at the moment. Calm them down, let the emotions settle, and wait for the lights to come on in their cortex and frontal lobes. By the way, if you get steamed up too, your brain doesn’t work as well either. Cool down and try again when normal brain services are restored.

John Cowan

John Cowan

John Cowan is an accomplished author, media producer and seminar presenter. He's been a hospital scientist in neurophysiology, a youth worker, a social worker, minister, and parenting expert, but his primary passion is communication.


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