Home About
Home About Training Connecting Disciplining

Disciplining a Strong-Willed Child With Love and Confidence

You are raising a mover and a shaker, a dominator, a world changer! Yup. Your strong-willed child is poised to make a huge impact on the world around him. And there’s no one better to train him how to make that impact a positive one… than you! Whether you feel equipped for the task or not, the task is indeed yours. He’s your child. All yours. 24 hours a day… yours! Disciplining a strong-willed child can be a challenge, but you have everything you need.

Let’s talk about how to summon the parenting skills you need for raising a strong willed child!

Is Disciplining Your Strong Willed Child Something You’re Ready For?

The answer may surprise you.

You may not be ready. You’re likely not ready because someone has given you a false definition of the term strong-willed.

In truth, disciplining a strong-willed child requires that your will outmatch hers.

However, likely not in the way you are thinking.

As I was considering the best way to chat with you about this, I felt like the first thing we need to do is understand a bit about this all-to-commonly-thrown-around term “strong-willed-child.”

What does it really mean for a child to be strong-willed, anyway? It’s kinda hard to know until you’ve parented a laid back kiddo AND a strong-willed child. Then the light bulb goes off and you can plainly SEE the difference.

To learn more about the three most common child temperament types, read here.

For instance, teaching one of my children to sit in a ONE MINUTE timeout at 15 months old, took me 45 minutes. 45 Minutes of putting him back in that chair every time he’d climb out, in order to accomplish one single minute of training. (for my favorite book on how to use time out correctly and effectively, click here)

Note: This site may earn from qualifying purchases through affiliate links at no extra cost to you.

Fast forward a handful of years and I’m walking through the same scenario with another child. Only this time, the 15-month-old sits in the chair and never even attempts to get down!?

mom and daughter happy sitting back to back because mom understands disciplining a strong willed child

Disciplining a Strong-Willed Child Can Take Time

Ah-Ha! Strong-willed child = 45 minutes to accomplish ONE minute’s worth of training. Laidback child = one minute to accomplish one minute’s worth of training.

Ding. Ding. Ding.

And therein lies the true definition of a strong-willed child. Disciplining a strong-willed child has nothing to do with coming in guns blazing, fingers pointing, and voice raised! Parenting your strong-willed child with effective strong-willed discipline has everything to do with your resolve being stronger than his own!

Parenting the Strong Willed Child Takes Perseverance

Your commitment to training your child up for a life of blessing must be dug in deeper than his heels are to getting his own way.

Does that mean your strong-willed child will forever be more difficult to train? No, a thousand times, No. The fantastic thing about a strong-willed child is that he is very results-driven.

So with a lot of intentional training and correctly disciplining a strong willed child on the front end, your power-house will likely grow to be a well behaved, great leader.

What’s the Key to Successfully Raising a Strong Willed Child?

YOU and Follow Through!

Outlasting, Withstanding, Relentless… You!

You can do it. It’s actually easier than you think. I love lay-it-all-out-there-for-me processes. So let’s just do that, shall we? Let’s put parenting the strong-willed child into a process. A nice strait-forward method, so you’re not left wondering about the effectiveness of your efforts. For my favorite book about disciplining a strong-willed child, click here.

Disciplining a Strong-Willed Child Effectively

Step One. Identify if your child is really strong willed.

Step Two. Understand the need for follow-through.

Step Three. Establish boundaries.

Step Four. Distinguish bad behavior.

*** this is tricky for parents of strong-willed kiddos. Your strong-willed child will NEED to be led and instructed by authority figures throughout his life. So it’s important he knows how to submit to his authority and understand his position.

It’s also important that you be your child’s cheerleader and step in to say, “He is not trying to be defiant, he is simply not communicating appropriately” when necessary. Don’t be afraid of either task.

Step Five. Relinquish some responsibility.

Strong Willed Child Characteristics to Look Out For

There are a few issues that inevitably arise while disciplining the strong willed child. Sometimes, despite your best efforts, these hazards make it feel as though you’re doing something majorly wrong. You’re not. These are just more areas to train and not a cause for concern. Let’s bring them out into the open, so they’re not so scary!

#1. Be on the lookout for grey areas.

Strong-willed children are prone to manipulation and negotiation. Your strong-willed child is typically SO convinced that he is right, that it doesn’t always “feel” wrong to him to manipulate to get his way. You’d be amazed how young this begins to happen.

An example of this would be; telling your child that he’s “all done” when screen time is over. But instead of shutting everything down and playing with toys instead, he may turn the iPad off and turn the TV on instead. Arguing that he thought you meant it was time to be done with the iPad, not necessarily ALL screens!

While this sounds like some advanced manipulating, I’ve seen it begin in children as young as four years old. This is why it’s SO important to be crystal clear in regards to rules and boundaries, eliminating as many grey areas as possible.

#2. Hop off the train at explanation station!

Your strong-willed child will naturally be crafty with words. She’ll be good at drawing you into a conversation about the “why’s” and “how’s” of your parenting. Don’t do it! Don’t get caught up. This kind of conversation, when presented in a defiant way, is a method of getting out of taking responsibility for herself.

The shortest answer to any unwarranted question from your child is no answer at all. When you feel strongly that an explanation for any instruction or consequence is in order, provide the explanation with as few words as possible.

#3. Stay humble.

Your strong-willed child may come off as a know it all. Help him navigate the waters of confidence vs. arrogance by setting a good example.

If you find yourself always needing to have the last word, you are making things worse. When it aggravates you that your strong-willed child thinks he’s right all the time, take a look in the mirror. Actions speak louder than words. You do not need to prove you are right to anyone. Particularly your child.

About the time you find yourself getting really good at expressing a spoken expectation, delivering praise or consequences accordingly and doing it all with as few words as possible, will be the same time your child’s behavior dramatically improves!

Summing-Up Strong-Willed Child Discipline Techniques

I want you to walk away with a few truths burned heavily in your brain, so let’s revisit them, one more time.

Having a strong-willed child is a blessing. This kid of yours has monumental potential! He simply needs you to show him the way with effective strong willed child discipline. This is significantly easier than you think.

Shift your thought process away from verbal over-correction and toward silent follow through of cause and effect consequences. Lastly, be aware of common misunderstandings you and your child are likely to have. You rule the roost. Make certain that is clear. At the same time, know your child’s heart.

Lastly, you have everything you need to parent and discipline your strong-willed child. Don’t feel ill-equipped because you are not as obstinate as your kiddo. Often times, it’s the laid-back Mommy who has the easiest time, because she is good at keeping her cool. Get good at keeping your cool and win the “battle-of-the-wills!”


Hi there! I'm Mama Duck,

I'm a stay-at-home/work-at-home, homeschooling Mama of 4 beautiful kiddos, wife to my loving husband, Parenting Coach, Speaker, and Writer. I adore the sound of my children's giggles, that first sip of hot coffee, and a snuggly blanket fresh out of the dryer. Here on Faithful Parenting, my heart is to equip mamas with the skills, knowledge, and biblical wisdom to raise fantastic kids and build a tethered family!