Independent, Strong Willed Child

I have to admit, I’m in a bit of a quandry with my daughter, who is 7. She is very strong willed and thinks she knows everything. It really hurts my heart because she’s not teachable. I’ve read Dobson’s Strong-Willed Child and Bringing up Girls, but I’m still at a loss as to how to deal with her. While I admire her independent streak, I want her to realize that not knowing is okay as well. Any ideas?

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i have read those as well and my daugther is also very strong willed and i have a hard time with consistency. i am reading dare to discipline with a friend and i am going to try out some new positive reinforcements with her this week. i do understand your defeat and have been their for sure.

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For clarification:
Are you most concerned about her academically or are you concerned with discipline and family life?
Have you taken a look at her strengths and weaknesses? If there was just one area that you would like to see improvement, what would it be?

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All I can add to the conversation is to say YOU ARE NOT ALONE! My daughter is fairly well behaved in the “classroom” learning setting - she excels at academics and book smarts, but as far as every day life, she is very strong willed, still throws MAJOR tantrums, is quite bossy with her brother, etc. (it’s possible she has a bit of Aspergers…)We are very consistent, but at 6 1/2 her behavior and lack of self control with her behavior are still the same as when she was a toddler. Her younger brother already surpasses her with his coping skills (I know… don’t compare children) Anyway - I have no solutions, but I’ll be keeping my eye on this for responses from other people. And remember, you’re not alone! :slight_smile:

it’s more about discipline and family life, although academically, if I could get her to like school it would be a lot easier.

She’s just so determined to do everything her way. I can see where this is heading, because I have a niece who is the same, but grown. She’s 18 and is making very bad decisions, but no one can say anything because she will not listen. I’m concerned that Nora will grow up the same. I want her to have that determination and drive, but to also have a teachable spirit and understand that she doesn’t know everything. It’s been weighing heavily on me for the past few months.

I had/have a strong willed child and it was horrible when she was younger. It got to the point where she was 5 years old and would literally lash out at me and hit me, she did what she wanted when she wanted etc… I was scared to take her out of the house in case she decided to have a tantrum in public or church. My husband and I started watching a series of DVDs and the biggest thing I took from it was taking time out to spend with your children to talk with them, have devotional time with them, let them know they are important and loved and watching your tone of voice. Are you harsh with her? (sometimes that happens naturally out of frustration for the strong willed child- believe me when I heard/read about that I noticed that from the moment I woke up until bedtime my tone was already annoyed before anything even happened.) There was a lot of things that my husband and I realized we needed to change first and as we changed DD started to change. She is so much better yet still VERY strong willed and we still have some issues with it but the change is so dramatic you wouldn’t know it was the same child. Recently I also put in a subscription for the positive parenting course and hope that will also help. I don’t know your exact situation but I hope this gives you some hope.


I would focus on her attitudes. She must show herself respectful when you are talking to her or explaning any school matter, even if she knew it. She must obey your instructions. Any deliberate disobedience or disrespect to you should be corrected. You are the leader, God has given you that authority. If she is strong willed you must be stronger. Make some rules about the behavior and the attitudes you expect from her and make her keep them. I would recommend you to study the book of Proverbs and all the Letters in the New Testament. The Bible is a treasure of wisdom about raising children. I also love all the Dr. Dobson’s books.
On the other hand, I would look at the curriculum you are using. Is it too easy for her? That could be a reason to think “she knows everything.” Maybe she is a very smart girl and she need something more challenging. Or maybe a curriculum with minimum parent intervention could help if she use to be so independent. Hope this help! God bless you!

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@Txmom72 Oh, my heart hurts for you! Grab all your prayer warriors & pray! My mom read The Strong-Willed Child because of me & I remember feeling so burdened as a child to get everything right & be perfect (unrealistic expectations I put on myself & still do too often). She wrote that I was quite “independent” in my baby book ;). Hmmm. I will be praying for your daughter to have a teachable spirit. I like all the suggestions here so far. I turned out okay, but it’s hard for me to ask for help & I do love to be in control! I pray you see some changes soon as I imagine being the mama is not fun.

I had to get creative in order to have some healthy, happy learning in our house! My main goal was to not let my son’s and my personality differences become cause for power struggles and angst. While not being a doormat or letting my child rule the roost… I did honor his personality, parent with conviction and never crush his wonderful spirit! I did all this by feeding his desire to control and choose – all by MY rules! So I set the parameters and the mom-approved choices and then let him decide. I’m thinking this would work in your situation. Without having to say to your daughter that it’s ok to not know something, the lesson can still be taught. Maybe just rephrase it. Ask her what she would like to know more about and then go about researching that. As she comes up with things she would like to learn, she is (in a round-about-way) admitting that she doesn’t know something. She’ll feel a sense of control and also experience how much fun it is to figure out something new. Possibly this would feed her sense of control and boost some confidence in new found “expertise”!


Parenting Insight You Can Use Now
Children who make decisions with intensity tend to be labeled “strong-willed.” At the end of the day, their parents feel as if they’ve been engaged in hand-to-hand combat—and that the child often wins at the parent’s expense! Most parents consider a strong will a negative personality trait because it often creates resistance and frustration in family life. Yet, in reality, it’s the strong-willed kids who are often better equipped to succeed, be creative, and face adversity.

Children with strong wills have the potential to become the next generation of leaders. They have their own ideas and plans. They know what they want. They’re persistent, confident, passionate, and determined to succeed at whatever they choose to do.

Leaders have an agenda, look for ways to incorporate others into their plans, and have a high need for control in life. Balanced with graciousness, leaders become treasures because they make things happen, create organization out of chaos, and motivate people to action.

Unfortunately, it’s hard to raise a leader. These kids tend to have their own ways of doing things and like to tell other people (including their parents) what to do. A strong will keeps a child moving in a certain direction in spite of obstacles. Often these children need bigger barriers or tighter limits to teach them that those boundaries are firm.

Don’t be discouraged by the effort it takes to teach a strong-willed child which limits not to push. The strong-willed child accomplishes things in life, because the roadblocks that might hold others back are no match for this kid’s determination. Your job is to help him know the difference between obstacles to overcome and limits to live within.

A strong will can be an asset… as long as the heart is in the right place.

This parenting tip comes from the book Parenting is Heart Work by Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN.



Thanks. We’re getting better, but sometimes it’s so hard!! I’m going to check out that website.

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You’re welcome. I read this today and remembered your post.
That website in very insightful and I appreciate receiving their tips via email.
I’m sure their books are great, and I can’t wait to read some of them.
I’ll say a prayer for you as I pray for my own struggles with my children too.
Also, check out as right now she’s doing a study on child rearing and you can start at any point at the first day of it, whenever you are ready. Hopefully this is helpful. May God give you wisdom and strength and patience and love necessary.

I am in the same boat as you. I have 3 girls and my oldest at 6 1/2 is strong willed, bossy and insecure. I know I raise my voice too often with her out of frustration. I am trying to get her to do her morning routine independently which she loves but it has to be on her terms. As much as I want to homeschool her, sometimes I am at a loss of how I can get her to learn. I cannot correct mistakes because she breaks down and it seems like she is thriving on negative attention. i am constantly sending her to her room to cool down. Her behavior is draining me and taking away the positive attention from her younger sisters. I sometimes consider sending her to school so she can learn to adjust in a group setting and have self-control. Need help as well!!!

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I know your frustrations! Been there done that, if you read my comment earlier in this post you will see we had it bad. Like you our DD did not like to see us correct her work, even now sometimes she has issues with my saying something is wrong and she would tell me that she did it correctly and she has an answer for everything. Having a strong willed child is not easy, you don’t want to break that will because it can be used for good, however they also need to learn to respect authority. Right now I am teaching her to answer simple questions (not school related) with yes or no answers. I.e Did you do something wrong? (Yes or no with no other explanations usually because that leads to blaming others or saying she was not to blame for anything)… then we talk it through, otherwise it turns into a big event. Sending your daughter to school may or may not help, sometimes it is a character issue that you need to help her with. She is still quite young that it could be an ‘easy’ fix… I use the word easy for lack of a better word, it’s hard work but not as hard as it would be for an older child. I hope that you find a way to work this out for you and your family.

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