Parenting 101: Tips and tricks for dealing with a very strong-willed toddler

The question of nature versus nurture often comes up when dealing with children. When discussing a child’s behaviour, I don’t think it’s a matter of it being one or the other but more of a combination with a little personality thrown in to the mix. We are who we are, even at a very young age and as a parent of a very strong-willed child, I had to adapt and work with the behaviour and personality to survive and here are some tips and tricks that I have learned a long the way.

Temper tantrums

Yes, I was that mom in the store with their child on the floor in complete hysterics flopping around like a piece of sizzling bacon. Yes, I was that mom with their child refusing to go in to class at daycare and causing a shoe stopping scene for everyone to see. If I have learned anything as a parent, I do not get embarrassed and I most certainly do not hide my face in fear of others judging. Ultimately, we all have bad days and mood swings so that of a toddler is no different. The difference is, unlike a toddler, we are able to control our emotions, where as, they might not be. They might not truly be able to express themselves and so all their emotions turn in to an explosive outburst. Patience! Patience is a virtue. Give them the time and space they might need provided they are safe and not hurting anyone and let them get it out. Fighting with a toddler that in the moment can’t explain themselves is pointless and waisted energy. Also, from my experience, it only aggravates the situation.

Handing over control

Often strong-willed children need to feel like they have control, like they have power. I know with my little one, ordering him to do something or fighting him on something is not going to go over so well. Over time, I have learned that If I make him part of the solution, he feels like it was his choice. If its his choice, then he doesn’t fight... as often. A win win for both mom and toddler. In our case, my son has a very strong opinion and will often fight with you on principle. So, for instance, in the morning, he picks out what shirt he will wear and I will pick out the rest of his clothing. For snack time, I give him 3 options. From those three options he decides which one he wants. If I were to just give him a snack, obviously that’s not going to be the snack he wants and a fight would be inevitable. So, I just work with it to try and avoid an argument. Most importantly, pick your battles! We really can’t win them all and if you argue everything, then when no actually means no, it might not have the same effect.

Bedtime wars

Bed time was always a struggle in our household. For my little guy, it also comes down to him needing to have control or a say in the situation. What we have discovered is that if we allow him some quiet time, or as he calls it “lamp time” in his room before the lights are turned off, followed with a 15-10-5 minute warning, it gives him a chance to unwind and again, some control over the situation. After a long and stimulating day, don’t we all need to slow down and unwind a little? Once the count down ends, he knows that he has been given a little bit extra fun time and now it truly is time for bed. It definitely helps reduce if not eliminate the bedtime war.

I don’t know about you but I can’t fight all the time. Who has the energy? I have struggled with how to deal with my stubborn little one and in the end, I have decided to find a way to work with the behaviour and avoid working against it. They are who they are and their little personalities need to be embraced no matter how challenging at times!

Robyn Maxine Eidinger loves a challenge and looks at every obstacle that comes her way as a way to grow. She's not only a mom of 3 but she is also a certified personal trainer, writer and a health enthusiast. With one foot in front of the other Robyn is finding her way through her life's passions and sharing her experiences with her readers.