10 Surefire Signs You're Raising a Strong-Willed Child

Strong-willed children don't accept no without a fight.
Cultura/Robyn Breen Shinn / Collection Mix Subjects / Getty Images

Although all kids can be strong-willed sometimes, a truly strong-willed child exhibits certain characteristics consistently. Also referred to as “spirited children,” a strong-willed kid’s temperament is often evident from infancy.

Here are the 10 most common characteristics and behaviors of strong-willed children:

1. They Exhibit Intense Angry Outbursts 

While all kids throw temper-tantrums, strong-willed kids exhibit intense anger that doesn’t subside for a long time.

They have low frustration tolerance and they struggle to express their anger in a socially appropriate manner.

2. They Demand to Know Why 

One of the worst things a strong-willed child can hear is, “Because I said so.” They want to know why they can’t do something or why you’ve set certain limits.

3. They Can Argue Forever

Strong-willed kids don’t give up when they disagree. They love to engage in power struggles and their stubborn persistence often works for them as they tire other people out.

4. They’re Bossy

Strong-willed kids have a vision in their mind about the way things should be and they’ll often orchestrate ways to turn that idea into reality. They have no problem telling their peers where to stand or how to behave and they’re not shy about telling adults what to do.

5. They Refuse to do Things They Don't Want to Do

Don’t waste your energy trying to convince a strong-willed child to do something she doesn’t want to do.

Nagging, begging, and rationalizing isn’t likely to get you anywhere. Strong-willed kids will dig in their heels and refuse to budge.

6. They’re Impatient.

Waiting quietly or patiently isn’t a strong-suit for strong-willed kids. They hate waiting in line at the grocery store, they don’t like waiting for their turn when playing a game, and they aren’t interested in sitting in the waiting room at the doctor’s office.

They don’t want to waste a second waiting for someone else.

7. They Make Their Own Rules

Strong-willed kids aren’t interested in hearing your opinion about when it's time for bed. Instead, they’re likely to insist they’ll go to sleep when they’re tired. They prefer to make their own policies and set their own guidelines rather than follow an authority figure's rules.

8. They Insist on Getting What They Think They Deserve

Strong-willed kids struggle to understand the difference between a 'need' and a 'want.' Whether they want to play outside in the rain or eat a hotdog for breakfast, they’ll insist they should be able to do it. Even when they're getting the most, they'll insist they're not getting their fair share.

9. They Ignore Warnings They Don't Want to Hear

Tell a strong-willed child to 'be careful,' or 'use walking feet,' and if she’s not interested, she’ll simply ignore you. Strong-willed kids are good at using selective hearing and they easily tune out anything that doesn’t suit their needs.

10. They Move at Their Own Pace

Tell a strong-willed child she can go to the park and she’s likely to move like a bull in a china shop in an effort to get out the door. Tell her to get ready to go to the grocery store and she may dawdle for an hour. Strong-willed kids often eat fast and talk fast but then move at a snail’s pace when doing something they aren’t interested in doing.

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