Managing the Strong-Willed Tween

If your child's strong temperament is getting to you, here's a plan

The strong willed tween can be a challenge to parent. KidStock/Blend Images/Getty Images

If your tween was born with a strong will, you're probably exhausted by now. Strong willed infants, toddlers, and young children can make parenting a challenge and can wear you down long before the teen years begin. But don't give up yet. Your tween's years as a strong-willed middle schooler require your full attention. To make it through these years, and the teen years to come, you'll need a plan.

The tips below should help.

Tips for Parenting Strong-Willed Tweens

Keep it Short: Strong-willed children often thrive on conflict and confrontation and they can draw out an argument for hours or even days. They also tend to be very good debaters. Be sure to keep any disagreements and arguments short and to wait to deal with your child until you have calmed down a bit. Less is usually more when it comes to communicating with your strong willed tween. Be direct, be specific, and don't allow your child to draw you into an epic argument.

Be Clear About Expectations: If your strong-willed tween thinks it's time to make the rules, you'll have to reclaim the throne of authority. Be clear about your expectations with your tween. Strong willed children will find loopholes and pounce on anything that's vague so spell it out if you have to. Contracts are always a good idea when dealing with strong-willed tweens.

Know The Dangers: Strong-willed children can be tempted to engage in dangerous behaviors, because that's likely to get a reaction out of you, and assert her own authority. Be sure you know the dangers that are out there, and be proactive in preventing your child from engaging in any activity that you think has potential negative blowback.

Follow Through: Follow through is so important when dealing with a strong-willed child. Once you establish your rules and expectations, be sure you also make clear what punishments or consequences will be doled out if your child refuses to follow your guidelines. Immediate follow through is important, and your child will likely try to negotiate or talk you out of them. Be firm. Strong-willed children can be persistent and convincing, so you'll have to be strong and stand by your guns.

Be Positive: The good news about parenting strong-willed children is they often grow up to be very productive and pleasant adults. Strong-willed children can be highly intelligent and creative, and many of them also possess leadership qualities. Of course, you'll have to get through the tween and teen years before you enjoy some of those parenting rewards. Just hang in there and know that you're helping your tween use her qualities for the good.

Reward Good Behavior: Strong willed children enjoy the rewards that any other child would enjoy, so be sure you point out good behavior and cooperation when you see it. If your tween steps up to the plate to take charge of cleaning the playroom, be sure to point that out.

Also, if your child shows leadership potential on the field, let him know that you're proud he's mentoring other players. Let your tween know that you value her personality and abilities, just be sure you also help you child develop them positively.

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